Without Walter Cronkite, the Primetime Emmys might not exist as we know then. In a piece in the L.A. Times’ The Envelope, Tom O’Neil, who wrote the wonderful "The Emmys" book, recounts that incident and more. To read the entire piece, click here.
Here’s a short excerpt. To find out what happened go to the entire article:
"Even though Cronkite was ‘the most trusted man in America’ and former president of the TV academy (1959-60), he kept losing the news Emmy to NBC stars Chet Huntley and David Brinkley during the early 1960s. The reason was obvious.
Emmy winners were determined by a popular vote and the peacock web was the most popular TV network. But the Emmy result was so unpopular with CBS News Chief Fred Friendly that he finally got fed up, became most unfriendly and screamed, ‘Boycott!’
Not only did CBS pull out of the Emmys over the Cronkite snubs, but Friendly recruited ABC to follow, which was easy to do since the alphabet web was furious about seldom winning any Emmys at all thanks to its third-rank Nielsen status.
Suddenly jilted by two of the three TV networks, the Emmys and the TV academy were dead."