Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite ... 1916-2009

This is a picture of Walter Cronkite. My friend Eric and I used to say we'd never date a girl who couldn't name all four Beatles. Funny how these concepts get thrown to the side of the road under the effect of extreme stimulus. Like rats undergoing electric shock experiments.

Anyway, this is a picture of Walter Cronkite. I wonder how many people under 40 could identify him.

Anyway, this is a picture of Walter Cronkite:

And this is a sightly edited version of my post from the beginning of the month:


Me? I'm carrying around one of those blue plastic bags that The Times gets delivered in, just in case. I'm talking, of course, about the gag-inducing media spectacle that will commence upon the death of Walter Cronkite.

I remember sitting around home the other day watching Michael Jackson videos on MTV for an hour or so, reflecting that it was, to a large degree, Jackson and his interest in melding his performance skills with lavish video production that made MTV what it was--as opposed to what it is. It made me sad for a time gone by, if it's humanly possible to feel sad about the excresence that is MTV now. But, in the end, who gives a shit about that?

Walter Cronkite, and by connection the state of televised news, if such a thing even exists anymore, is another and (to my mind) far more important story. And the fact of the matter is, the journalistic values that Cronkite and his kind stood for--essentially the same sacred covenants of blah, blah, blah that used to govern print journalism as well, and were simply carried, by print journalists, over to the emerging phenomenon of television news--exist almost no place on television now. You think maybe the network evening news shows ... but really that's more hoping for the best than accepting the reality.

You fantasize that CNN is a bastion for real news, except that they were unconscionably slow in upgrading/downgrading Jackson's condition from "in coma" to "dead"--even while my friend Earl was on the phone saying "I'm telling you, he's been pronounced dead" while I'm saying back "He can't be dead. CNN says he's still in a coma."

Then, continuing with CNN, there's the now-famous Geoffrey Raymond debacle regarding their picking up something that said about me that was obviously false and running with it on Campbell Brown's evening show--presumably their flagship--as if it were fact, cast in stone. Walter Cronkite never would have done that.

And now the man is perilously close to death. Which, I suppose, at 92 is okay. My father used to tell me that anything over 75 was gravy, so good for you, Walter.

And what we will see, upon his death, is eulogy after eulogy about the greatness of the man and the importance of the journalistic values he practiced so well; offered, with great sanctimony, by people who have, by and large, completely abandoned those values in the name of money. In the name of shareholder return. Shareholder return--that most American of concepts, responsible for screwing up more of the world than perhaps anything other than organized religion.

News for money and the chicks for free.

Get ready to vomit.

I'll leave you with this classic post from November 27, 2007, posted after I had closed my first annotated painting, "The Annotated Murdoch":


The Murdoch Annotations

Dave from Richmond suggested I list the annotations on the face of Big Rupert.

Good idea, if perhaps a little labor intensive. Nonetheless, herewith, blah...blah...blah, more or less across the top, then down the left side, then down the right (just a reminder--only WSJ/Dow employees got to write in red):

Fox is what we call yellow journalism
Got Freedom of Press?
UNFAIR and IMBALANCED. stay away
Don't hate the player, HATE THE GAME
(something in Arabic)
Free Speech for Painters
You rule!!
Can you remember the day you stopped caring? K.
Keep the peace!
Excellent city (signature illegible)
Fox News not news at all
Love the WSJ
TRUTH, JUSTICE, CHAL-METTE (sig. illegible)
sup. not smart. SUP!!!
leave WSJ alone!!!
Whos in control?
News is sacred
Great portrait
Fair and Balanced?
God save us all from Murdoch (sig. illeg.)
Good luck, Denise.
Keep the WSJ out of this scumbag's hands.
Bite Me.
"awesome" vision. Good (illeg.)
Say No! (to drugs) I mean to Murdoch!
Love lives Strong (initials)
Go softly into the night
Looks Great
Don't be biased!
Preserve the public trust!
Geoff Great Job
Lenny Thacker (something)
Peace Dorian Carmen
Spain (initials)
Don't mess with the WSJ
(something in French) magnifique!
If it ain't broken don't fix it!
Death and taxes (initials)
Welcome Rupert!
A thing of... well... a thing
God bless the USA
Power must be controlled--Rupert calm down FDNY (sig. illeg.)
Great news (something)
82 degrees and sunny
News should be unbiased.
Sanjaya and you, perfect together
Good job.
Not fair + never balanced!
You go Rupert!!
Please don't break our hearts
I care to not have DBs run the news (DB=douche bag)
Britain is with you Geoff!!! All the best. Hogsham Boys
I don't care (with a circle around it)
My viewers/readers are a brain-washed cult &I know it. But so what?
All the news that's fit for an ultra-conservative media baron to print!
I'll eat your lunch too! Mike Bloomberg
Very nice
The total spin zone!
Keep our independence. Stay away (signature illegible because the person came back the next day and xxx'd it out)
May the best choice be made
Nuffa reddy.
Good move!
Great work Great artist
Beautiful!! (sig. illeg.)
"What will people think... What I tell them to think"
Keep Page 6 out of Page 1
Enslaving the world one outlet at a time.
Stay away from WSJ
Short the Eur/USD until Jan' 08 M.S.
We want truth liberty and the American way
Integrity is out the window!
give me liberty or give me death
high facts
C * * T
Go back to Midtown
WSJ is a public trust. Don't lose it.
$ $ $
I (heart) NY Esp. today.
Keep speach free! Good work
Vielfastt ist gut/Einfaltt schlecht!/Das gilt auch fur/Mein augen (very approximate rendition)
Your hot! (heart) Christina

And there we are. 91 comments total; 17 by WSJ/Dow Jones employees; with the last being my favorite. I'm only human. I wonder if Christina is coming to the opening.
Do you see the annotation in red that reads "News is sacred"? On the painting itself it's located right above Murdoch's head, almost 12 noon on the button. It was written by a young editor at the WSJ. He only had time to write the "N" before ejaculating something along the lines of "Shit, there's my editor!" He then ran over to the Sabrette's stand, bought a dog, waited for the editor to go inside, came back and finished his annotation.

News is sacred. Of all the people talking about the late Walter Cronkite, ask yourself how many of them honestly believe that. Then get ready to vomit.

Now he actually IS dead, I'm listening to Campbell Brown (the same nitwit who reported that I was taking my portrait of Eliot Spitzer on tour to the hotel room in which Spitzergate was born--lifting a humorous post almost word for word from!!!) on CNN, and I want to vomit. I don't know if it's irony, or hypocrasy, or deep sadness ... but it's palpable.


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