Letterman’s Cronkite Turn

Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 11:07 am

Forty years ago, in September 1968, the North Vietnamese launched the Tet offensive — which changed mainstream America’s view of the Vietnam War. In living rooms across the nation, Americans saw a gruesome display of how powerless the United States forces looked as they struggled to gain control over a millitary conflict they would not win.

It was then that Walter Cronkite, the CBS news anchor who narrated the daily events for millions of people each night, called Vietnam “unwinnable.” In the White House, President Lyndon B. Johnson said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”

Now, we are in a different kind of war, one where U.S. financial insolvency seems at risk. Looking at this crisis, Sen. John McCain has said he would suspend his campaign. This included canceling an interview with CBS “Late Show” host David Letterman last night. Letterman said McCain was preparing to head to Washington in an effort to save the country.

The reaction was something the likes of which we’ve never seen.

A furious Letterman called out McCain and, without using the word “liar,” ran live feed of McCain preparing to do an interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric at the precise moment he was taping.

In addition, Letterman lashed out at McCain’s decision not to have his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, take up the campaign slack while McCain was in Washington.

Letterman even suggested this was all linked to McCain’s recent fall in national polls. “When you call up at the last minute and cancel, that’s not the John McCain I know,” Letterman said. More than once he suggested that “something smells right now.”

Now, Letterman is no Cronkite. He’s not even Ed Sullivan.

But he is the face that millions of Americans see before turning in for the night. For years, McCain has appeared on his show, even announcing his intention to run for president on the program. And to have the affable Letterman visibly boil and go on the offensive showed that, perhaps, McCain, whose campaign has stumbled since the beginning of this economic crisis, is in bigger trouble than one would think.

Perhaps McCain won’t say, “If I’ve lost Letterman, I’ve lost middle America.” Does Letterman even say his audience is “middle America?”

But one wouldn’t be surprised if the Republican candidate began to smell a strong odor seeping into the vents of the Straight Talk Express.



Troy Aldrich
Comment posted September 25, 2008 @ 6:07 pm

This is the True McCain. McCain only does things that help McCain. Well he just Stubed his toe here.

Jason Apa
Comment posted September 25, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

The Tet Offensive began in February of 1968. Tet is a Vietnamese Holiday at the beginning of the year. Get your facts straight. But still, not a bad article.

Comment posted September 25, 2008 @ 6:25 pm

Remember the old TV show Dallas? Someone asks JR Ewing how he can live with himself.
He answered “when you give up integrity the rest is easy”. 'nuff said.

Comment posted September 25, 2008 @ 7:17 pm

watershed moments come at strange and unpredictable points in our campaigns — especially this one. Dave's twirling over McCain is no exception. kudos to Pappu for the great observations.

Comment posted September 25, 2008 @ 7:38 pm

Its now been just over 24 hrs since Dave went off and look what's happened:

McCain hung around NY, giving speeches and interviews, obviously in no real hurry to get to DC & handle a problem he obviously doesn't get.

He did not suspend his campaign, quite the contrary.

He had no solutions or help to offer and no real place in committee meetings he wasn't part of.

Where Congress was close to an agreement before McCain got there, it has now fallen apart.

Washington Mutual is failing.

Thank God McCain jumped in to take the lead, huh?

Comment posted September 25, 2008 @ 7:44 pm

I am probably the only person I know who felt that Letterman HELD BACK. He should have said, “Your poll numbers are slipping, so you pull a stunt.” Instead, he hinted and hemmed and hawed and talked about things “not smelling right,” but that was about it. He didn't just SAY IT. “McCain is afraid.” And even though he drove home the point that Palin should have been able to step in, a MUCH BETTER point would have been, “Shouldn't the president of the United States be able to handle more than one crisis at a time? Why did McCain suspend his campaign? Is he not capable of debating Obama AND coming up with solutions of the economy? How will he deal with two wars (Iraq, Afghanistan), the crisis in Darfur, renewable energy, job loss and health care if he has to 'stop campaigning' over one crisis?” THAT is what I wish Letterman would have hammered home. Instead, he gave credence to McCain's (lame!) move by saying, “Fine. Suspend your campaign, but put Sarah Palin in there for you!” Sorry, Letterman. Your rant fell short and was not enough about how LAME McCain was for suspending the campaign in the first place. Letterman is getting way too many props for his reaction, IMHO.

Comment posted September 25, 2008 @ 8:00 pm

You weren't the only one to see this parallel: http://policomic.wordpress.com/2008/09/25/dont-…

Comment posted September 25, 2008 @ 8:33 pm

Keith Olbermann had this article on his show today.. Kudos Sridhar.

Comment posted September 26, 2008 @ 12:40 am

Dave isn't Cronkite or Sullivan you are correct. He is Dave. He has his own connection with millions and has always been the best since Carson at what he does. I think he is also funnier and more intelligent than Johnny, and that is saying something. Dave is from Indiana and in Indiana when you say you are going to be somewhere to meet somebody, you better show up. Another example of how McCain and his bunch of rats who are running his deal, just don't get it. They don't even get, that of the people you don't want to piss off on TV, Dave is at the top of the list. He'll drive this home…night after night. Dave also has to be pissed at the CBS brass who let this happen. He takes them on all the time also because he can. He makes the network millions, and he knows it. As he likes to say..”Can you believe it, I'm the only one on CBS right now..” Thanks dave for putting that phony on the carpet and kicking him around. He's pathetic!

L John Puhek
Comment posted September 26, 2008 @ 11:33 am

Like Cronkite, Letterman is way off, disrespectful, and wrong! The Tet offensive was militarily a victory, but our negative & sensationalist press spun it into a loss. As a result of the press's political correctness in Viet Nam, 3 million civilians died at the hands of Communists in South East Asia after we left in 1975. This is Cronkite's legacy and ALL who supported his views (including myself at the time). I'm man enough to say I was wrong. I'll bet that off the air, Letterman is a miserable chump. Finally, Dan Rather got caught for his lies – Letterman works for CBS. CBS leans to the left, what do you expect from CBS??

Comment posted September 26, 2008 @ 12:56 pm

Wouldn't you call it disrespectful for John McCain to lie to Letterman saying that he was flying back to Washington to address a crisis when in fact he taped a different interview during Letterman's timeslot and didn't fly to Washington until the next day? How is Letterman the one being disrespectful there?

I assume your 3 million civilian death tally is refering to the Cambodian-Vietnamese War that broke out after we left Vietnam. Are you aware that in that conflict, the Vietnamese were actually fighting AGAINST the Khmer Rouge, which had already slain around 1.5 million people within its borders and was making encroachments into Vietnam? To presumably blame the Vietnamese for the slaughter they were opposing would render your argument suspect at best. And if that's not where you're achieving your “3 million civilians died” claim, then I welcome you to explain–specific statistics and citations would be appreciated.

Comment posted September 26, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

Fact is, McCain lied to the man. He should not have done that. Now he has to square with his own blunder.

B Shepherd
Comment posted September 26, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

Cronkite spoke truth to power, and is an icon to those of us who think of the media as the voice of truth whose duty it is to shine light on events, rather than echo the Govt and the right wing spin machine as in the lead up to this latest disaster we find ourselves in.

I will make no judgment as to your being a man or not because of your views. That is like saying one is not for America for not agreeing with the latest war. It’s a false argument. And you calling names in regard to Mr. Cronkite says more of you than of him. I don't have to defend him. A nation listened to him and trusted him. He earned that.

As to who leans which way…. The media as left wing has been a myth to make all new right wing since Reagan allowed right wing Corps to buy all the networks. You’re just buying the right wing line. It’s so obviously a load. CBS leans left…? You make me laugh. Any effort at the truth is a communist plot to some of you or at least that’s how you will paint it. It’s called framing the argument. And it more name calling. It’s simple. Just like your reasoning. Rove like. And effective only with the uneducated using a compliant press. As in the selling of Bush as a leader, war in Iraq and now McSame and “I can see Russia from my house!!” Palin.

Sandra Shepherd
Comment posted September 27, 2008 @ 5:09 am

It was a relief to hear David Letterman speak out about Mc Cain blatantly botching the expected interview on his show. There seems to be alot of numming wow moments with McCain and it seems that he is just lip syncing the past. It doesnt seem like he is making a real effort at all,almost like he is confident that he will ride right in. It is obvious that he will just walk past the struggling americans, not even caring to give them a hand up, rather dropping or cutting the the safety rope. Obama is obviously strategic and to say that he wouldnt be able to handle this is ridiculous, he is not alone, he walks with the power of many beside him.

Dave f
Comment posted September 27, 2008 @ 12:45 pm

You are the stupidest people ever. You compare Cronkite to Letterman. Walter Cronkite was a well respected man. Letterman is a not so funny comedic entertainer. My god you are Idiots.

stan hilliard
Comment posted September 27, 2008 @ 1:01 pm

I think this just about the stupidest far reaching article I have ever read. Maybe now you will insult the late Paul Newmans memory by comparing him to Carrot Top.

stan hilliard
Comment posted September 27, 2008 @ 1:04 pm

Frank. Get off that Indiana midwest values crap.

Comment posted September 27, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

I am not comparing anyone, I respect John Mc Cain, but feel that their has been desceit in the past here and do not want that way of doing things to continue. Why did they not give the real reason for the war, why are we so in the dark about it all. It seems that McCain is focusing on issues that are not going to have a positive effect on the people that need it. I think if they were more honest about what there motives were, people would want to be a part of it. It is a scary time with such unrest about the safety of us and now you ask your self, is this such a difficult decision to bail this out, when all that money has been going to provide for this war, and it just doesnt seem to be a problem.

Joseph IraqVet
Comment posted October 3, 2008 @ 11:00 pm

McCain lost Letterman. McCain lost me , a life long Republican. I respected McCain for a long time and I can related to Letterman's sentiments. Forget the comparisons, and you don't have to call it Letterman's Kronkite turn. It's Letterman's turn, and it is a significant.

Joseph IraqVet
Comment posted October 4, 2008 @ 6:00 am

McCain lost Letterman. McCain lost me , a life long Republican. I respected McCain for a long time and I can related to Letterman's sentiments. Forget the comparisons, and you don't have to call it Letterman's Kronkite turn. It's Letterman's turn, and it is a significant.

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