Direction in an Age of Confusion
There is a certain amount of wisdom that simply comes with ‘age’ for most of us. While I’m sixty-eight years old, I’m still young enough to learn a lot more life lessons. At the same time, the lessons I’ve learned have been through a lot of trial and error, and the purpose of the Blog is to share them with you.
Adlai Stevenson said “Journalists do not live by words alone, although sometimes they need to eat them.” I think that’s a significant quote, pertinent to these days and times of our lives. ‘Journalism’ lost its luster during the Viet Nam war. When Walter Cronkite died (July 9, 2009) the media and national accolades lasted days, well beyond the funeral. Even now, there’s a hushed reverence when most journalists and post-Viet Nam era ‘boomers’ hear his name.
Watching the mainstream network news, clearly I am a very small minority who opines about Walter Cronkite’s movement away from journalism. I wrote an article about him in 2009, that I’ve never published or circulated – but will partially share today in this Blog. The assessment that I wrote then, about his negative impact on journalism, has only fortified my belief in marginalized journalism initiated by Mr. Cronkite in 1968.
War correspondent Mr. Cronkite became a ‘pundit’ with a meaning provided by Merriam-Webster dictionary: 1) a learned person: Teacher, or 2) a person who gives opinions in an authoritative manner usually through the mass media: Critic.
Further, if you know that the origin of the Hindi word pandit, referred to respected India teachers and leaders. Pandit is a term for a ‘wise person’ in Sanskrit meaning ‘learned’ and ‘sages’ (thinkers, intellectuals, scholars, mystics). By the 1800s, English translation speakers began using ‘pundit’ as reference to other sagacious (knowledgeable, shrewd, clever) individuals. Now most often used with cynicism or irony, to refer to ‘informed opinion makers’ (such as political commentators and newspaper columnists) who shamelessly share their personal views as accurate and factual, on just about any subject that accommodates their beliefs to persuade others to believe as they do.
Journalism, otherwise previously by Merriam-Webster as: 1a: the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media, b: the public press, c: an academic study concerned with the collection and editing of news or the management of a news medium, or 2a: writing designed for publication in a newspaper or magazine, b: writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts of description of events without an attempt at interpretation, has morphed by adding c: writing designed to appeal to current popular taste or public interest.
No, that definition is not journalism; it is the definition of editorial A journalist’s writing is characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation, or creative license. It is a ‘report, hence the word ‘Reporter’).
My personal opinion is that our news nationally and internationally is primarily created and controlled by ‘political pundits’. From scores of players ‘editorializing’ instead of factual journalism, manipulated by design to appeal to a current popular taste or public interest.
Walter Cronkite was a news correspondent icon, ‘the most trusted man in America’ before Americans entered Viet Nam.
President John F. Kennedy began sending 1,000 military advisors there in 1959, (my father was sent as an advisor then), and the Green Berets (400) in 1961. By 1963, 16,000 military advisors, By 1964, 23,000 ‘advisors’ and based on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, President Lyndon B. Johnson, ordered the first combat units with troop levels to 184,000. (My brothers were two of them—volunteer Army.)
North Viet Nam was aided and funded by the Republic of China, and the Soviet Union, and other communist allies.
South Viet Nam was aided and funded by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand, and other anti-communist allies.
Yes, it was a politically motivated war.
Walter Cronkite went to South Vietnam to research a news report on the Tet Offensive. Then, decided to inform America how the enemy, North Viet Nam & Viet Cong were ‘winning’ and broadcast his ‘evidence’ on February 27, 1968. In part, provided herein:
“Tonight, back in more familiar surroundings in New York, we’d like to sum up our findings in Vietnam, an analysis that must be speculative, personal, subjective. Who won and who lost in the great Tet Offensive against the cities? I’m not sure. The Vietcong did not win by a knockout but neither did we.....
But is increasingly clear to this ‘reporter’ that the only rational way out then will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy, and did the best they could.” “This is Walter Cronkite. Good night.”
The broadcast cast doubt over the country’s leadership decisions, and over time distrust of our internal politics goals and objectives, hawks versus doves, fueled riots and loss of military support, (especially over the involuntary service: draft). Over 58,000 U.S. military personnel died in the Vietnam War.
Mr. Cronkite erred in 1968. Five years later, the North Vietnamese signed the Paris Peace Accords on January 27, 1973, to end the Vietnam War. So the war ended, with the agreement that South Viet Nam would be an independent country (with a right to choose its governing system by its citizens). We withdrew, rightly so.
However, two years later, in 1975, the North Vietnamese Army broke the Paris Peace Accords Treaty, and took control of South Vietnam. President Ford refused to go back into war in Vietnam (trying to honor the treaty). Socialist Republic of Vietnam is a communist governed country. Again, my opinion, rightly so.
Walter Cronkite left the airport in New York, destination Viet Nam, a journalist. He returned a political pundit—based on his own words, and forever altered journalism; the Freedom of the Press that has affected the Security of our nation.
How? The elements of our government are Constitutional Rights -- one being Freedom of the Press, but based on the Viet Nam war, journalists turned political pundits. America’s ‘internal politics’ have been seeded with errors, opinions, editorially changing and causing conflict within our own country?
If we are to trust our media-- how do we know what is truth or personal agendas? It is our individual responsibility to educate ourselves, fact from fiction, journalism from editorial, non-partisan versus partisan, and support all of the Freedoms guaranteed by our US Constitution, including The Press. – We are not a ‘democratic’ or ‘communist’ structured government, we are a Republic, by the people, for the people. That’s a fact.
Within my syllabus, here is the next segment continuing from last week:
Structure: Internal Politics 1) Areas of Change, 2) Basis, 3) Methods of Change, and 4) Intended Results
Group of people are elected to work equally and freely for the same cause,
The public good-- without personal or party prejudice
Method of Change:
· Party Antagonism, bargaining & trading Votes,
· Stalling legislation or Recessing without Voting,
· Lobbyists entertaining Legislators
· Campaign funding by Special Interest Groups
· Media Exploitation of Journalism vs Political Pundits Alignment
& Artificial Polls
· Public Division
· Loss of Necessary and Priority Public Interest Legislation
· Legislation is governed by and for Special Interests
· Increased Taxation
· Unreasonable Expenditures
· Budget Deficits
· War & Conflict & --putting military personnel in harm’s way (19 years+)
· Military either under-funded, ill-equipped, or ill-placed through non-alliances
· Justice system ‘Constitutional Law’ stricken with non-oversight resulting in ‘Activist Judge Bench Laws’
· Presidential non-support breaks down American citizenry and the
· Worldview of our ENTIRE LEADERSHIP, our integrity, abilities, and
· Worldview of us by China, Russia, Middle East, they consider us vulnerable, especially Terrorists (already proven by 9/11)
Now, it is time to decide for your answers to these four questions:
What was your life like twenty years ago? Ten years ago? Five?
Is your life better or worse? Quality of life, peace, stability, health, in what ways….
Is society and community around you is as a whole, better or worse?
If your life and the lives of your children or family, in the future is to be determined by your decisions and actions of ‘today’, what are you going to change? Or do?
“Choose carefully and wisely, logically, it doesn’t have to be this way.”