Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Way It Was: Walter Cronkite Remembered

An American icon passed away Friday. Walter Cronkite, once called "the most trusted man in America" has passed away at age 92. He is remembered as the pinnacle of journalistic professionalism and integrity, due to his even-handed reporting of the facts as they are, without spin or hidden agendas ready to leap out and pound the viewer over the head. He knew people expected the truth, warts and all, and that's what he endeavored to achieve.

“Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine.” - Walter Cronkite

This is why viewers trusted him. He stuck to the facts. He left the opinions and spin control to pundits who were clearly identified as opinion providers, not newsmen. There is no doubt that he had opinions, but he recognized the absolute necessity of separating those from his obligation to stick to the facts and report the news as objectively as he could, not only for the sake of his viewers, but to preserve the integrity of the news itself. He defined the role of Anchorman like no other before or since. The term itself was created for him, and no one else wore the title like he did.

This is in sharp contrast to the yellow journalism and petty guttersnipes that have infested the news organizations of today. It is absolutely inexcusable how the press has allowed itself to degenerate to such depths of mediocrity, saddling itself with carrying water for political hacks whose ideals are half-baked at best or worse, place the future of our American civilization in grave danger of collapse and ruin.

Journalism and Mass Communication, as a profession, has sunk to levels of distrust usually reserved for used car or insurance salesmen. Even politicians, the new slave masters for so many "reporters" in the field today, rate higher in the public eye, which isn't saying much at all. How can you report the news and be credible if you're in bed with the very subjects you are reporting on? The line between reporter and commentator has been blurred so much that the two can no longer operate separately. And this has killed the primary objective of journalism: to report the truth.

“Our job is only to hold up the mirror - to tell and show the public what has happened.” -Walter Cronkite

There will never again be another man in whom the American people can trust to tell the truth. What a sad reality we must learn to live with.

And that's the way it is.

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr.
November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

An Independence Day Message

The Gnu Herd is having a muted celebration of America's Independence this year.

Not only because of the loss of our freedoms thanks to a runaway Congress hell-bent on instituting Soviet-style Communism whether the American people want it or not; an activist Judiciary who can no longer comprehend the concept of Equal Protection under the Rule of Law; a rank-amateur of a President who cannot form a single cogent thought on his own without the hidden hand of a teleprompter behind the throne; a fawning - nay, fellating - press frittering away its trusted obligation to report the whole truth as it is, in favour of carefully scripted, over-choreographed press conferences that avoid the truth altogether; and a plebeian voting population that is completely incapable of rational thought, their hearts set upon, just as in Roman times, bread and circuses. These things happen throughout the course of human history, and it is the fate of our generation to relearn these lessons all over again, so our progeny can pick up the pieces of our ruined civilization and start afresh.

No, our sadness goes deeper and more personal: we lost a favourite uncle this week. Mrs. Gnu's uncle passed away at the end of June after a quick decline in health. We mourn his passing and the loss of his presence in our lives. He was almost 80 and had lived a good, happy life, loved by all who knew him.

He was also a veteran of the Korean War and this brings me to the heart of my message. Veterans stood up to be counted to perform a sacred duty to their country, and whether they were drafted or volunteered, they did not run away. These men and women fought hard in all corners of the globe to defend our freedoms, our country, our way of life from enemies of all kinds: Communism, Fascism, National Socialism (look that one up, little children, and never forget), Islam, and in many cases just stepping in to do the right thing while the world stood by and talked about the weather (Grenada, Liberia, Somalia, Serbia, Lebanon, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Panama, yeah the list goes on and on to the continuing shame of the rest of the world). Veterans performed their duty with honour and they deserve our enduring thanks.

The veterans of Korea have largely been forgotten, stuck as it were between the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers. Their contribution to our heritage is no less important however. They deserve our heartfelt thanks just as much as any other group that stood to defend our country. My wife's uncle had lots of stories to tell about his times on the peninsula at the 38th Parallel. We heard about triumph, tragedy, comedy, boredom, sadness and danger. We learned a lot about what it means to answer the call of duty, even in the face of rising voices of complacency, cowardice and political abandonment, which would become even more shrill and irrational in the coming decade for another war.

Most people do not know anything about the Korean War except for the TV comedy, M*A*S*H (a great show in its own right, but hardly a record of the true story). Try finding someone who can tell you what MiG Alley was, or where Pork Chop Hill is located on a map - not because they read about it, but because they were there and remember what it was really like. If you're lucky enough to know a veteran, take the time to sit a spell and listen. Their story is part of our folklore, a personal deposit into the archives of American history, and a fast-disappearing one at that. Don't let their voices go unheard, their experiences lost with the dimming of years and fading of memories. Don't just hug a veteran, listen to them tell their tale. They have an important contribution to the history of our nation, and if we disregard their lessons, we may find ourselves repeating the tragedies they suffered through.

For all true Americans, serving abroad in uniform, holding down the home-front, and standing up for the shining ideal that is the Spirit of America, we extend our wishes for a Safe and Happy Independence Day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day

A holiday postcard to all of our friends North of the Border...

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.