CBS News Anchor Walter Cronkite Was Once Famously Voted the Most Trusted Man in America — CBS’s Scott Pelley Explains Why That Could Not Happen Today

Feb 15, 2017  •  Post A Comment

In an unprecedented joint interview with all three anchors of the three broadcast network evening news programs — CBS’s Scott Pelley, NBC’s Lester Holt and ABC’s David Muir — Variety senior TV editor Brian Steinberg asked about the differences between the broadcast news landscape of today and that of decades ago, when Walter Cronkite and Frank Reynolds were among the network anchors.

Pelley noted that Cronkite was famously voted the most trusted man in America, but added: “That could never happen today because we live in a much more skeptical society than we did in the ’60s and ’70s, and I think that’s, largely, a good thing. I think the American people are asking all of us to be transparent and to explain our process to them so that they can see how we know what we know.”

Pelley also commented: “We’ve all talked about how relevant we are in this Internet age … that never before in human history has more information been available to more people. But it’s also true never in human history has more bad information been available to more people. So one of the reasons all three of our broadcasts have been growing over these last six years or so, I believe, is because people are looking for brand names. They’re looking for people that they can trust. They’re looking for people that they know worked all day long trying to get the story right and to make it nice and concise and understandable.”

We encourage readers to click on the link to Variety near the top of this story to read the in-depth interview with all three anchors.

Here’s a look back at Cronkite in action in November 1963, posted by CBS …


  1. This article makes me sick in so many ways. First, Scott Peley, the worst anchor of any of them, is the only one quoted. Next, it’s freaking apples and oranges. It’s all about advertising $$$ now. Who cares about what’s right or wrong. I love David Muir, but the actual news time in his broadcast is < 10 mins. The rest is set up and keep them watching for the NEXT story (or in other words, stay tuned to watch the commercials). WC is spinning like a top in his grave!

  2. Not a fair comparison: when Cronkite was anchor, the CBS News division was a protected crown jewel under Paley, and he was one of many credible journalists. All of them learned from field experience–often, WWII coverage. Nowadays, training begins in a communications program at a college or university, a far less satisfactory training ground. There was the culture, too–a hero’s quest to tell stories in context, with clear presentation of relative importance, and so on.

    The environment is very different today, but there is always the potential for a truly gifted group of journalists (nobody does this alone) to assemble the necessary corporate support, deep field experience, superior writing and research, and culture to far exceed expectations. It is akin to waiting for the new messiah, or for Godot? That’s overstating the challenge–these people do exist, but we need an unencumbered news organization to cultivate the next generation.

  3. The news media is no longer regarded as an impartial service reporting facts. They have become totally partizan in lockstep support of all things Democrat! Even before Dan Rather ran with phony stories about President Bush, the mainstream media conglomerate was well on their way to losing public trust. The just completed election cycle and the aftermath going on now continues to tarnish the industry that brought us through WWII, flights to the moon and the tragedy of a president being assassinated. Now – participating in federal felonies to publish information they hope will damage the new Trump administration is acceptable to the established mainstream news outlets! It is time to refuse to support this any longer. Let sponsors know you disdain for partisan news and politically bias reporters.

  4. Pelley is correct about one thing. There are many more sources for information today than ever before. Because of that people are better able to assess the facts and come to their own conclusion of what is right. But it also prevents the networks, Hollywood, Fox News or any other group from forcing their opinions and what they think is the correct way to act and think. All the American people want is the facts. We are capable of making our own decisions. The network that realizes that and provides that opportunity will be the leader in the news business and “the most trusted “.

  5. It seems everyone is missing the most obvious reason it wouldn’t happen today, which is that Walter Cronkite is dead.

  6. Just because there are more sources for news available doesn’t make it easier to find the “truth.” In fact, it makes it harder. The truth is becoming the proverbial “needle in the haystack.” I still find the greatest purveyor of “truth” in the news to be local TV stations. The farther UP the food chain, toward the networks, the farther you get from the “truth.” Ironically, this started way back with “Good Ol’ Walter” injecting his “personal” feelings about the Vietnam War into his nightly broadcasts. We’ve known the New York Times has no credibility for YEARS. But in 2016, they finally took their mask of objectivity off and claimed “We can no longer be balanced in our coverage. Trump must NOT become President. Therefore, we will shade the truth often, and sometimes outright lie to you, our readers, to save you from yourself.”

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