So Jon Stewart was rated America's Most Trusted Newscaster in a recent unscientific poll. I'm reflecting on this ten days after the death of Walter Cronkite, the man they used to call "the most trusted man in America," the man who narrated the golden age of television.
Of course, Cronkite retired more than 25 years ago, and to tell you the truth, I hardly remember him. I was born just 11 days before the historic moon landing, and I didn't really get into watching the news until my second decade of life.
However, I love Jon Stewart. Just because he's funny doesn't mean he's joking. But what about the other serious newscasters? We sure have a lot of them with all these 24-hour news channels. And all these cable stars share one quality -- they are pretty to look at. Or, make that two qualities -- they are really just commentators reacting to events. Or, make it three things they share -- they all publicly lamented the passing of Walter Cronkite as if he was their personal friend and mentor.
Really though, I'm skeptical. This outpouring of admiration for Cronkite seems insincere. If these guys admire him so much, they should emulate him. Instead they function as talking heads who lazily amplify every talking point from corporations and politicians. The most pompous cable news pundits may speak of Cronkite as legendary yet look back at the era as quaint. News is a big business now. No time for ethics or research.
It's a cliche to say it's all about the money, but I'm a bit worried that the current generation won't have their own moon landing moment to look back on. Instead they'll look back and reminisce about the quality reporting of To Catch a Predator. Yikes.