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Interview With Walter Cronkite

Aired September 10, 2003 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, legendary newsman Walter Cronkite. For over 40 years, millions have known him as the most trusted man in America. An dhe'll give his take on Iraq, the war on terror, Scott Peterson, all the headlines. The one, the only, Walter Cronkite is here for the hour. He's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Couple of notes before we begin with Mr. Cronkite. Last night we had said that John Ashcroft would be with us tonight. He will be with us tomorrow night, along with victim's advocate John Walsh. Sharon Stone will be with us on Friday.

And throughout tonight's program, we're going to take a look back at some of our coverage of 9/11.

How do you like doing a column?

WALTER CRONKITE, FORMER "CBS EVENING NEWS" ANCHOR: Well, I find it a little more work than I had expected, but it's a joy to be back at the typewriter, as it were. It's a computer nowadays. And to get my thoughts on paper and share them with the people. I hope the people appreciate my sharing my thoughts with them.

It's been a very interesting thing. We're getting great deal of reader reaction. Thousands of letters that -- I had hadn't expected that much of a response. So that's rewarding even though a few of them are, "you dog, you."

KING: What led you to do it?

CRONKITE: Mostly the tenor of the times and the fact that I had time to do it. I do a lot of documentaries, as you know, and other things. But there still was some time on my hands. And I am deeply concerned about the nature of the world today and where we're going. It gave me a -- somewhere I could vent that feeling and those attitudes.

KING: And in your opening column, you admitted to be being a liberal, saying also that most reporters are probably liberal. But you also said that you are nonetheless disapassionate. However some on the right have used this as an example of biased media. How do you react?

CRONKITE: Well, I think that's a mistake because this is a column. This is an opinion column. And opinion columns, I assume, are supposed to have opinions. And the -- as such, that's editorializing. We know that. That's not supposed to be unbiased necessarily.

Now that doesn't mean that the rest of the press away from the op pages and editorial pages are prejudiced or unfair. I don't think this's so.

KING: When you did a broadcast, were you able -- can you honestly say, with all those years, that you were able to leave you out of it?

CRONKITE: I think so, yes. Yes, I really do. I believe that in reporting the news, personal opinion -- this is something that journeymen reporters -- I'm talking about people who have had sometime at it, who have been to journalism school and studied the ethics of journalism, and so forth, live with. They understand that. They understand that we all have prejudices, but we also understand how to set them aside when we do the job. This would be the same as a doctor who perhaps didn't like a particular patient's attitude and perhaps his looks or his religion or whatnot. But when he opens him up, he does precisely what the profession requires him to do.

KING: The editorial aspect, though, is you choose which story runs first, what runs second. And that comes from the history of judgment rather than an area of prejudice.

CRONKITE: Yes, indeed, it does. And there are some kind of rules of thumb for that, too. That which interests most of the people is the story that is most -- is the No. 1 story of the day, either interests them or should interest them.

KING: That's your decision.

CRONKITE: Not that is where a little editorial judgment comes in. We cannot be simply a mirror to the world. We've all got to set an agenda of what is most important to lead this broadcast, if you please or leads the piece in the newspaper on the basis of the fact that we have a responsibility to call these things to people's attention, whether they or -- this is the first piece they're going to want to read or not.

A lot of people turn to the gossip page, the tabloids first regardless of what the headlines said in the big type on the front page. And we can't help that. But we can, in our agenda, of the limited amount time we have for an evening news broadcast, we can set that agenda.

KING: As a newsman, though, do you understand even from where you came from that Kobe Bryants and the Scott Petersons of the world are stories?

CRONKITE: Oh, sure. Sure. The human interest story. It's a human interest story. They're -- how stars affected by their new perhaps fame. And, how they performed in their private lives, I suppose is interesting. They submit themselves to that when they get into that business. I'm not sure that the private lives of those of us would prefer to be out of the public eye is fair game for the press. But that's another story. KING: Before we talk about Iraq and other things current, do you like the state, the current state of electronic news?

CRONKITE: Basically, I do. Yes, I do. I think I'd like to see the traditional networks have more time in their prime broadcast, their evening broadcast. Peter Jennings, and Dan Rathers and Brokaws are excellent reporters. Very good people. And their staffs are. But they're not given enough time.

KING: You'be been fighting for that for years.

CRONKITE: Indeed, we have. And the problem is basically with the local stations that walk a time there at the evening is the time when they make a lot of their money with local news. And they're not about to give up that time for network news.

KING: Has cable news taken a lot of the impact away from network news?

CRONKITE: Of course. Quite a lot. Quite a lot. And the fact that it's a 24-hour service and very well done by CNN and some of the others, the -- that certainly attracts a lot of viewers who otherwise would be with a network.

KING: So what you don't like is the time allotted. Anything else you don't like?

CRONKITE: No. Not necessarily. I do think that the networks could use their magazine time which is now in prime time...

KING: Every night.

CRONKITE: Every night, yes. Something on every night there. That was a -- that kind of primetime which we begged for in my day and we never got, they have now. But unfortunately, the pressures at that hour of the night on the networks to entertain is so heavy that the network news departments are forced into a -- stories that I think are less important than the interpretive kind of piece they could do feeding on the evening news and taking the time that the evening news doesn't have to explain what these important things are all about.

KING: When you watch it, Walter, do you miss it?

CRONKITE: Oh, yes, of course. Everyday. Every minute of the day I miss it because it's things develop, I hear them on the radio. I see them on the Internet. I wish I could get my hands on that story, you know.

KING: Want to go in and do it?

CRONKITE: It's the old -- it's the old firehorse, you know, that when the bell rings, you want to go.

KING: How is your health?

CRONKITE: My health is remarkably good for a man of my advanced years, I'm afraid to say.

KING: How old are you?

CRONKITE: 86, thank gosh. Isn't that incredible? You know, I tore my Achiles tendon ...

KING: I remember.

CRONKITE: ...two years ago. I was playing tennis at 84. I was challenging ld King Hoken (ph) Norway, I think, who played into his 90s and I was hoping to beat his record and then tore my Achilles tendon and the daily tennis is out now. And I still limp a bit with the results of that. And, that makes me feel so darn old when I limp at all. You know, otherwise I'm great shape.

KING: All right. We're going to discuss a lot of current issues with Walter Cronkite, the legndery journalist, former anchor and managing editor of "The CBS EVning News." His weekly newspaper column is syndicated through King features Syndicate. And, by the way, he'll be receiving the lifetime achievement from the News World Internatioanl next month in Dublin.

Back with more after this.


CRONKITE: Good evening from Paris. Tonight, this broadcast originates from outside the United States for the first time.



CRONKITE: This wall was begun 2,300 years ago. And the first 10 years, the labor of 300,000 men went into it.



CRONKITE: His mission to Moscow, a weeklong meeting in the Kremlin with the leaders of the only nation whose power rivals that of the United States.



CRONKITE: This is Walter CronKite reporting from Bien Tian in Laos (ph).



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CRONKITE: The Tete Offensive is is still at its hot spots (ph), and one of them was that once beautiful old city.

The Communism intentiton was to take and seize the cities. They came closer here at (UNINTELLIGBLE) than anywher else.

It was a tough fight. It was house to house, door to door, room to room.


KING: We're back with Walter Cronkite. John Ashcroft will be here tomorrow night. He's, as you know, going around the country on behalf of the Patriot Act. What do you think of that Act?

CRONKITE: I think it is disastrously severe. When you darn well know that we must be exceedingly careful these days and we need new rules and regulations in order to be as safe as we possibly can be from the terrorist threats, but the Patriot Act goes far too far. Far too far. The -- I think the secretary -- the attorney general's trips around the country indicate that they realize that there is a lot of opposition and concern about the extravagance of the Act.

One of the principal things that bothers so many of us is this incredible business of giving the FBI the right to go into any library, any bookstore, and look at all of their records to find out what people are reading, what individuals are reading. Clearly it is the reverse side of freedom of speech and press. This is the freedom to think, the freedom to research one's faith. What business does the government in doing that? If they have legitimate reason, they have a suspect in mind, then they could go to a court and get the proper authority to do that kind of search which is in the law anyway. But they are waiving all of that. They don't have to go to court at all. They are -- doing a pro forma thing of going to a particular court in this regard, but that court is closed to public examination. The public isn't permitted into the court, and its rulings are not even printed. And actually, it's a rubber stamp for the FBI's to go anywhere they want.

KING: But you do understand reaction to peril?

CRONKITE: Oh, of course.

KING: I mean, Lincoln suspended habeus corpus. We put Japanese Americans in interment camps.


KING: Both of which are highly anti-constitutional.

CRONKITE: Sure, as this is, as what the attorney general is doing now with the Patriot Act. There are moves in Congress, as you know, to amend that act so that some of these more heinous, I would say, actions, which severely impact upon our freedom as Americans, and in that case we've got to balance certainly our protection from the terrorists and our own freedoms. If we destroy our own freedoms in order to protect ourselves from the terrorists, what is the value of protecting ourselves from the terrorists in the first place if what we think of as America is gone?

We can't put up with that, it seems to me. And also, you know, this whole idea of patriotism is a very important part of the course of our souls, our very bodies. But it's got to be defined very carefully.

The charge of those who are unpatriotic because they disagree with the government at any given moment on any given issue is very likely a false accusation. The individuals who are parading -- or did parade in Vietnam situation -- opposed the war, those people were being patriotic in their parade because they believed that that was what was right about America, to not be in that kind of a situation, not be in another country and getting involved in its affairs. Their interest was in America doing the right thing by their rights.

Were they wrong? Well, I don't think you can determine that. They may very well have been right, as it turned out. So they were just as patriotic in their reaction...

KING: But they got labeled. McGovern, a great World War II hero...


KING .... got labeled kind of as a peacenik...


KING ...and he fought bravely.


KING: And got shot down. Put bombers over Europe. And it's kind of weird.

CRONKITE: Yes, yes, of course.

KING: Do you think it's going to pass as is?


KING: I mean, do you think it will be amended?

CRONKITE: I think it may be. That's a tough one. That's a tough one. It's tough for politicians to do anything that would seem to challenge something called the Patriot Act, that the administration is for, there's that pressure to be on the -- quote -- "patriotic side," which is what I'm arguing about -- that the patriotic side could be either side.

KING: It's hard to say "I am opposed to patriots."


KING: All right, let's move to Iraq. What's your overview of this whole situation, to this minute?

CRONKITE: My overview is that we are, of course, deep, deep in this Iraqi mess, and my heart really sank as, intellectually, as I understood what had been going on up to that time. But the president's speech the other night, acknowledging for the firs time that we're there for a long time, and we're going to suffer casualties and it's going to cost us -- he said $87 billion. We all know that's only a downpayment on what this is going to cost before we can conveniently exit Iraq.

I had a -- I had this terrible kind of a aura that surrounded me at that moment, a sinking feeling that, here we go again. It's -- I was thinking of four years of World War II, of the five years in Vietnam, of all of those years that we're facing of this particular conflict.

KING: Let me pickup on that. One second. We're talking with Walter Cronkite. If I have to tell you who he is, you are on another planet. We're remembering 9/11 as well, and as we go to break, looking back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the scene was basically -- I mena, I've never been through a war zone, but that's the only thing I can compare it to. You know, just a total devastation.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nightmare. Total blindness. Choking feeling. Just covered in dust, rubble, smoke, everything.



UNIDENITIFIED MALE: I drove under a truck. That's how I got away from it.



KING: We're back with Walter Cronkite.

Were you opposed to the war in Iraq? Were you opposed to going?

CRONKITE: Yes, I was. I was indeed.

I felt that we were not giving the inspections time enough. I felt there was a mistake going unilaterally. I thought it was a great mistake to bypass the United Nations, and I think we've been proved -- those of us who felt that way -- right. If we'd stuck with our -- with the United Nations in the first place and played along with them and gotten their permission eventually, making some concessions, of course, to the French, the Germans and the Russians, but at the same time getting a United Nations action, we wouldn't be in this mess we are in now. It would already be internationalized.

KING: But Saddam Hussein would still be running that country.

CRONKITE: Maybe. I'm not so sure of that. I don't -- I'm not so sure that we wouldn't have gotten the United Nations' approval if we'd gone at it perhaps a little more diplomatically, if we -- had the president had not in that original speech he made, where he made a perfectly good case for going into Iraq, but he ended that speech by saying, "On the other hand, it doesn't matter what you do at the United Nations. We're going in anyway, unilaterally."

Well, that was hardly the way to get an agreement out of the United Nations.

I think we might have done it if we'd played our hand a little differently.

KING: What are you -- what's your worst fear about the current situation?

CRONKITE: Well, my worst fear is that we are indeed inspiring a hatred greater than existed before among the Arab peoples for the United States and out intervention in their affairs, as they would interpret it.

The -- as much as they might have agreed, many of them, that they should get rid of Hussein and his regime, we have in a sense overplayed our hand, and they're angry. The occupation is going to take longer than we had anticipated and we had planned for, unfortunately.

And we are not getting their public services back in shape, like you would think that the efficient Americans could do. They don't have enough water, they don't have enough electricity. We are permitting sabotage to continue as even just yesterday saboteurs set another oilfield on fire.

We haven't handled this very well.

KING: What's the end game?

CRONKITE: Well, the end game is that we're going to have to get this thing internationalized, one way or another. I hope that this time when we go to the United Nations, we put it a little more diplomatically than we did before.

We're having to eat crow, is what we're doing, and we might as well admit it. We're having to go to the United Nations and say, "We're sorry, the way we treated you before. Now come along with us. Now come along -- now that we're in the hole, now it's going to cost you more. Now it's going to cost you more people, more troops than it did before, but still we need you desperately. Please help us."

KING: Do you think this is a mistake or do you think we were misled?

CRONKITE: By whom?

KING: By the administration, weapons of mass destruction and the like, fed to the United States.

CRONKITE: Oh, yes. I think we were misled. I think it's a question seriously of whether that was deliberately done or whether it was just their vocabulary got ahead of their thinking.

KING: Do you think they wanted to go to war in Iraq?

CRONKITE: Oh, I don't have any doubt about that, no. They saw this as a necessity and they were making whatever case they could to convince us all that we had to go and go then.

KING: Why would you want to go war? Why would you want to go to war?

CRONKITE: Well, I think we can accept that as an honest situation on their side, perfectly, talking about the government, this administration's side.

I think the president was convinced that Hussein was a living danger to us, and had to be eliminated. And that's a perfectly legitimate objective. It's kind of how we were then led into it, and the planning, which, obviously, we know now was inadequate and has led to the situation we have today.

KING: When you watched Jennings on Monday night and Rather last night, talk about going there ...

CRONKITE: Oh, boy.

KING: ...would you have gone?

CRONKITE: You bet, in a minute, and this Achilles tendon problem -- if I couldn't run fast, I don't think you ought to be facing mortars anywhere, Iraq or anywhere else. And I couldn't do that. I'd be limping around.

KING: But the newsman in you wanted to be there?

CRONKITE: I wanted to be there very, very much, and I admire what Jennings and Rather did, and have done. And you had some marvelous clips of their reporting from there. I thought they did a great job on your program.

KING: Our guest is Walter Cronkite. Lots more to talk about with one of the great journalists and, for a long time, the most trusted man in America. He now writes his syndicated column for King Features.

We'll be right back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's frustrating because you never expect when you come to a fire. When I was coming in, I thought this was going to be a tough high rise job. Never in my wildest imagination did I think these buildings were going to come down. I really believed in my heart that we were save people not to carry our (UNINTELLIGIBLE) brothers out.

You know, it's one of those things that -- there's some great firemen, died in there and they had knowledgeable fire officers, tremendous men, and you know, I just -- I really can't describe the sorrow that all of us feel.



KING: We're back with Walter Cronkite.

What about the study the Center for Media and Public Affairs of the coverage of this war? They found CBS NEWS was 70 percent positive toward the American effort. FOX 60 percent, NBC 53 percent. And on 34 percent of the on-the-air comments on ABC were positive. In othe rwords, there's ABC, the least positive, CBS, the most positive. What do you make of that?

CRONKITE: Well, I don't know.

KING: Surprised?

CRONKITE: I don't watch every one of them every night, naturally. We used to. In my CBS days, we couldn't wait to watch the opposition. I don't do that nowadays. I don't have that many sets in my home.

I still wear my CBS cufflinks.

KING: I noticed.

CRONKITE: After 53 years of service at CBS, I'm still very loyal to them and I like what they do.

The -- I can't compare them because, as I say, I don't watch them all.

KING: What did you think of CBS's coverage?

CRONKITE: I thought CBS's coverage, it seemed to me, was fair. I think I might agree to some degree -- agree to a small degree that perhaps they were a little heavy on the American side, but it wasn't to my mind in any way oppressive.

KING: Weren't all the great reporters of World War II heavy on the Allies side? CRONKITE: Oh, of course. Of course. And I think that there is a natural situation there. I don't find it wrong. Some people, purists, object to those of us on the air referring to the effort as "our effort," as "we" are doing this and "we" have suffered these casualties.

I accept that. We are a national network. We are not the National Broadcasting Company, but we are a nation with these three networks, and four if we include FOX these days, five with CNN, whatever number we have now.

But the -- when you get into a network of this kind, we are all for our success, for heaven's sakes. We've committed our troops. We've committed our forces. That has been a decision made whether we like it or not.

Now our troops are out there on the battle line, taking their licks, their casualties. In that case, we are certainly with them, and the politicians all have to make that disclaimer always. Today -- I heard the debate last night, for instance, of the Democratic candidates for the nomination, and everyone of them, in how are you going to vote on the $87 billion, they all had their disclaimer first. "We've got to support our troops" and "I am in favor of supporting our troops," and then they got into their criticism.

You've got to make that disclaimer almost. It is part of -- now there is something, I would say again, against patriotism. There is a declaration of the patriotic thing. It is impossible, once your troops are committed anywhere, to say that you favor their losing. You can't do that. You don't feel that way and you're not likely to feel that way.

So I don't object to showing some favoritism toward your side.

KING: But you can't let it affect your reporting. If the other side has a limited victory somewhere you have to report that.

CRONKITE: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I'm not suggesting in any way distorting the news. No. In no way.

KING: Right. Something you've covered, I guess your whole career, and it's still a primary story. Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel that is the Mideast?

CRONKITE: No. I do not. And that is the depressing thing today.

You know, today's headlines, my gracious, here's two more Hamas attacks...

KING: You almost expect that.

CRONKITE: Yes. And of course, the Israelis go right back and respond as they -- certainly their will is to do. And so this thing goes on and escalates again. It's now in an escalating stage again, where for a while we thought we were on a road to some solution there. The amount of the money that the president has earmarked out of that $87 billion for Afghanistan is totally inadequate. Totally inadequate. We're going to have to put a lot more money in there and quickly. That situation is deteriorating rapidly because we have not gotten in there and spent some time and money and effort to rebuild their economy and give them some reason to hope. We're just feeding the Taliban.

KING: The Arabs and Israelis, that just keeps going on and on and on. It seems to the outside world incredible, that people would blow themselves up, take lives and teach their children to hate other children. I never met a mother that wanted her son to die.

CRONKITE: No. It's amazing isn't it? Amazing.

KING: Does the -- should the United States do something more than it's doing?

CRONKITE: In that respect, yes, we can. Yes. We can put a lot more money into aiding the Arab nation -- they're among the poorest nations on the planet, in educational facilities, in housing and all the other things that would elevate their lives and show our interest and sympathy with their problem. If we make friends instead of enemies, I think that would be a major help.

KING: While continuing this support for Israel as well, right?

CRONKITE: Oh, of course. Of course, yes.

KING: Our guest is Walter Cronkite. We'll be right back and talk a little domestic politics right after this.


CRONKITE: I'm just back from the biggest assignment that any American reporter could have so far in this war. And when we were permitted to write, there was plenty to report.



KING: We're back with Walter Cronkite.

What do you make of the story of the day, Governor Dean of Vermont, former governor?

CRONKITE: Well, I think he's doing quite well. I thought in the debate last night, and the previous debate, he showed up well, along with other candidates alongside of him as they were each answering much the same questions. I thought he showed up well.

KING: Are you surprised?

CRONKITE: Somewhat, yes. He came out of nowhere and without any record on the national scene that we could compare to anything in the past, and therefore I think he's a surprise, but I thought he did quite well.

I thought that really all of them did fairly well last night. I was impressed with the field. It was perhaps better than some people thought it might be.

KING: Do you think -- do you have a forecast as to who might emerge? Do you think General Clark might come in? What's your general thoughts on this?

CRONKITE: I have a feeling General Clark is going to come in. All of the vibrations are tilting the Ouija board that way. The -- it seems to me that he's going to come in, and I think he will make a quite powerful candidate.

His military record, of course, long-time commander at NATO, and he's got apparently strong opinions about the war and what we've been doing wrong. This coming from a general will have greater impact than that coming from the civilians.

KING: Do you believe the president is beatable?

CRONKITE: I believe that today he is.

KING: You do?

CRONKITE: I think that the war, for one thing, the cost of the war...

KING: But the Americans support him 60 percent about the war.


CRONKITE: Well, I don't think they have to support the president to support the war. The war is there. The -- if the Democrats should win, they are going to inherit that war. They're not going to turn away from Election Day and call in the troops and walk out. They can't do that. So they're going to be stuck with it, and that is why Wesley Clark would have a shot at it.

But also, there is the economy, of course, as everybody knows about. We know, with the millions of unemployed, and I don't think, no matter how the trickle-down theory works with the tax cut finally reaching the people at the lower levels, even if that shows some effect, it's not going to be enough to wipe out the memories of this long period of unemployment among so many people. And not just unemployment, but a depression.

KING: We're going to know the candidate fairly early with the way the primary is setup. I think by March, well before the convention, we'll know the candidate. This is therefore going to be a long campaign, isn't it?

CRONKITE: It's going to be a long campaign, and it's going to be a dirty campaign, I think.

There's the -- I think whoever survives this primary season among the Democrats is going to, as we can see already in these two debates and their previous statements, they're going to take on the administration in every aspect -- the planning of the war, the ingrained intention to go into Iraq no matter what, and the inability to make it work once we're there. That's going to be the headline.

KING: What do you make of California?

CRONKITE: Well, you live there.

KING: Yes, I do.

CRONKITE: So, I can't here with you and with a national broadcast say what I've been reading in the papers about California. I'm sure that those people who criticize Californians simply because they've gotten in this ridiculous mess must be wrong.

I like California. I enjoy it. I have a lot of dear friends out there. Visit it every chance I can get. But this misuse of democracy...

KING: The recall, you mean.

CRONKITE: For the recall -- is dangerous -- is a dangerous move. If other states adopt that similar thing, our elections mean nothing.

KING: We'll take a -- let me get a break, and we'll come back with our remaining moments with the never dull Walter Cronkite, one of the legends in American broadcasting.

As we go to break, another memory of 9/11.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As I was getting married this weekend and what my fiancee, Josh Rosenblum (ph) here, was up in the building and he's missing with the rest of them. And all my family, my friends that were up there I have known forever. So please, if anyone has any information...



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He called me at 10 to 9 and said our buildinghas just been hit by a plane. Turn on the news.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of...


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I changed the channel and I saw what happened and I said, Oh, God, John. Please get out of there safely. And he said, I love you. I have to go. And he hung up.



KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Walter Cronkite.

Are you surprised that Schwarzenegger is not ahead? The lieutenant governor is ahead.

CRONKITE: No, I'm not particularly surprised. It's a Democratic state. The vote has always been very heavily Democratic out of California the last 20 years. The -- Bustamante is a fairly popular lieutenant governor. He makes a pretty good case for the Democratic side, I think.

I personally would like to see the recall fail. I have no particular -- I'm not carrying a dossier here for the present governor, but just to preserve the democracy and the way it works. If you can recall the governor anytime that you decide that he's not functioning well, you're going to have chaos around the country.

KING: You ever get tired of all the awards you win? You've got to go to Dublin next month.

CRONKITE: Well, no. You don't get tired of them, no. Particularly when you get to travel to Dublin to receive them.

KING: So the recognitions are still thrilling to you?

CRONKITE: Sure, of course. Of course. You can't deny that. I don't know how any man could deny it.

KING: How would you do breaking in today?


KING: How would you do breaking in today?

CRONKITE: Very poorly in broadcasting.

KING: Really?

CRONKITE: Well, I think so. These younger people today who wish to be journalists are aiming for the broadcast area all along, and I think they're probably very good performers in that regard.

I had the good fortune of having many years in print journalism, United Press, Scripps Howard Newspapers, before I ever got into television. As a consequence, I brought a firm journalistic background to broadcasting, but I didn't have any particular talent for it except what naturally just fell into place. So I think that I'd have to be auditioned with a whole bunch of young guys -- if I were that young, maybe I could make it.

KING: There was nothing like that Murrow team at CBS, though, right?


KING: Is that the greatest assemblance of broadcasters ever?

CRONKITE: I don't think there's any question about it. And I wasn't a Murrow boy.

KING: You came right after.

CRONKITE: I wa s-- I knew Murrow very well and knew him in World War II, in London, and we were friends, but I didn't join CBS until after his Nuremberg trials, two years in Moscow, Moscow bureau chief. I was the bureau chief because I was the only representative in Moscow.

But the -- so I came in after the wartime formation of the Murrow team. I had nothing but admiration for every one of those guys. They were great. Sevareid and Collingwood, you could name them all.

KING: Are you the last one left from the aftermath of all of that? Doug Edwards is gone.

CRONKITE: I suppose that -- oh, yes, he was great, too. He was the one I succeeded at "Evening News" and it was too bad that they moved me in instead of him, in a sense.

I was pleased, but I felt that he was an excellent broadcaster and a good man.

KING: No one set a concept as did Walter Cronkite, and one of the proudest achievements of my life was getting the Walter Cronkite Award from the Interfaith Alliance, that you presented it. I will never forget. Thank you, Walter.

CRONKITE: Take care, old boy.

KING: Walter Cronkite. They don't cut them like that -- there ain't no cookie cutter cutting that one anymore, baby.

As we go to break, we had lots of great artists who performed tribute songs for us during the aftermath of 9/11. Tonight we leave you with some of those emotional moments.




(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE with our special guest, Walter Cronkite.

Tomorrow night, John Walsh returns to these cameras. The famed advocate of victims' rights. We'll also spend some moments with the attorney general of the United States, John Ashcroft.


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