Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A Cronkite moment for Iraq?

Americans of a certain vintage will remember Walter Cronkite's decision to call for an end to the war in Vietnam as a critical turning point in bringing US involvement to an end. We don't really have a Cronkite anymore. It's hard for younger folks to understand how pervasive his influence was, how large the role of any network news anchor was in shaping public opinion in the days when there were no cable networks, no 24 hour news programming, when a handful of broadcasters were in virtually every home, every night.

Although media ownership is increasingly consolidated, media influence is increasingly fragmented. There's still one mainstream outlet, though, that appears in every community, carrying the same message everywhere. USA Today holds a unique place in the media spectrum as the only truly national newspaper, the one you can pick up in a convenience store anywhere.

That's why I think the column by USA Today's founder Al Neuharth that appeared three days before Christmas may be Iraq's 'Cronkite moment.' When Neuharth writes...
"Support Our Troops" is a wonderful patriotic slogan. But the best way to support troops thrust by unwise commanders in chief into ill-advised adventures like Vietnam and Iraq is to bring them home. Sooner rather than later. That should be our New Year's resolution.
...people who will never read a lefty blog or trust the New York Times are going to get the message.


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