John Facenda was Philadelphia’s favorite newscaster when I was growing up. He was suave and debonair, kind of like a Cary Grant with a voice that captured your immediate attention whether it be about shenanigans going on in city government or sports actions through NFL replays.
I believed him. I trusted him. I wanted him to guide me and the rest of us Philadelphians as long as possible.
I’m not sure when he retired. It must have been before the assassination of JFK because I remember switching my allegiance from the old WCAU television station to CBS and the man who turned out to be the most trusted person in America – Walter Cronkite.
Walter was my hero, particularly, when he helped so many of us get through Kennedy’s death and the reshaping of America in the rebellious 1960s. He was never afraid of getting at the truth and we owe him a great deal for helping to bring an end to what was then longest war in America’s history when I was a young soldier.
He showed the television audience some of the coffins being brought back from Southeast Asia and it touched a nerve. He started to question the real purpose for engaging in the war. We were lied to by our president about the Gulf of Tonkin. Our military leaders also lied and it wasn’t until the Pentagon Papers that we eventually learned the truth the government kept from us.
Another CBS journalist that earned my respect was Dan Rather. He spoke truth to power for many years until some of his sources either dried up or failed to support him when he tried to show how a sitting president not only got out of fighting in the Vietnam War by getting help into the National Guard, but eventually went AWOL during his hitch in the military.
CBS failed to back up Rather’s reporting, and he was forced to resign. He went underground and has resurfaced recently when truth needed to be offered about another president, one who disregarded real facts and labeled all criticism of him as “fake news.”
The truth will indeed set us free today and good broadcast journalists will help us once again. Lets just keep our eyes and ears open for our hearts to take it all in.