"The universe is not only queerer than we imagine, it is queerer than we can imagine." ~ J.B.S. Haldane
Journalists - Walter Cronkite
The recent passing of a media icon has left open a void felt by more than one generation, and I do not refer to Michael Jackson. Rather, it is the respected newsman Walter Cronkite. As CBS's evening anchorman for nearly twenty years his experienced professionalism and paternal demeanor earned him the title of "most trusted man in America". Welcomed by millions into their living rooms each evening, his measured voice imparted the notable occurrences of the day, be they troubling, triumphant or tragic. One moment is stamped indelibly upon a nation's psyche. Raw emotion marked an uncharacteristic but entirely forgivable lapse in composure when he delivered the stunning confirmation of President Kennedy's assassination while visiting Dallas in 1963.
In tribute, an eight-part retrospective documentary Cronkite Remembers has been re-broadcast on the Discovery Channel. Taped over a period of three years in the early nineties, these fascinating memoirs recall a career begun in 1935 and spanning six decades; tumultuous, volatile, pioneering times filled with change and upheaval which forever altered the courses of history. Through insightful commentary and often humorous anecdotes he shared incidents and conversations never intended for the camera, and in doing so deflated, without malice, the balloons of mystique surrounding those who wielded the power of their day. The recollections are as diverse as the eras that spawned them. Remembrances of social unrest, political chicanery, civil rights demonstrations, oppressive military regimes, combat, war trials, slayings of world and religious leaders, the advent of the atomic age, the rise of rock and roll, and the fall of the Berlin Wall are tempered by lesser-known portraits of individual courageousness, defiance, loss, optimism and perseverance.
Befitting his stature and caliber as the premier journalist of television's golden age, Walter was accorded access to a venerable roster of prominent persons. He interviewed every president from Franklin Roosevelt onward, as well as many foreign heads of state. Diplomats and despots, senators and soldiers, citizenry and celebrities, movers, shakers and news makers, Cronkite sat with them all, asking the astute penetrating questions his viewers had come to expect. It was due to the network's extensive coverage of NASA's fledgling space program and his own enthusiasm for the missions, that he became so strongly identified with that agency and its endeavors. As Apollo 11 successfully delivered the first men to the moon on July 20, 1969, another unforgettable scene was recorded for posterity when he was unable to find the words to convey the grandeur of the momentous achievement.
Walter Cronkite's integrity and dedication to unbiased journalism are still held as standards throughout the industry. His reputation for accuracy and credibility was unassailable, which makes the revelation of a little-known episode all the more startling when the details emerge. According to the claims of one controversial source in 1973, while researching facts and conducting interviews for a proposed special on the UFO phenomena sweeping the land, Cronkite allegedly related his own personal encounter.
In the 1950's, as part of a pool of reporters, he and others were brought to a small South Pacific island to observe the test of a new military missile. Security was extremely tight; no cameras, no recorders, no broadcast transmissions, no exceptions. Press information consisted of hand-outs and a prepared statement. Any additional information would need to be taken down the old fashioned way, with pencil and pad. After a brief inspection of the new system, the group was taken to a safe observation area and just as the rocket ignited, Cronkite and fellows witnessed the appearance of a disc-shaped craft some fifty to sixty feet wide.
Dull gray in color and having no apparent means of propulsion, it began hovering about thirty feet from the launch site. Security personnel with dogs hurried to the area as the missile lifted off. A blue ray of light shot from the craft, immobilizing the closest guard and his animal while the rocket floated to a height of about seventy feet before exploding. Immediately, the UFO vanished and the soldier and dog were freed. A flurry of activity ensued as medical attendants rushed onto the scene and took the stricken pair away. The astonished reporters were hustled into a concrete bunker by grim-faced, silent sentries where they remained for over a half hour, until called forth for a briefing delivered by an Air Force colonel.
The explanation they were given was a poorly fabricated tale of a "staged" test. Stress was laid heavily upon the standard nominal governmental assurance that any sighted UFO's were unlikely to be extraterrestrial, but rather advanced top-secret military aircraft. The preceding "demonstration" had been arranged to illustrate how shocking such technology could be if viewed outside its proper context. If such reputable and level-headed men as they could be taken aback, then surely they saw the need for cooperation in downplaying UFO reports since unfounded rumors and wild speculation over alien nonsense could lead to mass hysteria or other equally problematic scenarios. Of course, after the bizarre event a complete media blackout became effective, justified by the fact that it all had been set up for the reporters' benefit simply to gain their reactions, and promises of future exclusive coverage for Air Force projects never materialized.
There is no proof to substantiate any of these purported claims. Indeed subsequent inquiry into the credentials of the source who initially published the account revealed a questionable history of fringe element associations, misleading or falsified information and alleged criminal activity. In 2006 the veteran journalist denied the story to respected UFO researcher Richard W. Heiden, yet the mythology had already taken firm root and could not be displaced. Many believe that Walter Cronkite, "the most trusted man in America", witnessed an up-close visitation from advanced alien craft, an event far more significant than anything else in history, but he failed to report a single word on it...and that's the way it is...in the world of PARANORMAL CURIOSITIES.