Walter Cronkite, the iconic television journalist often referred to as "the most trusted man in America" during a tumultuous era that included the Kennedy assassination, the civil rights movement, the U.S. lunar landing, the Vietnam War and Watergate, died Friday evening at his New York City home after a long illness. He was 92.
As a reporter and eventually the anchorman of the CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981, Cronkite -- with his signature sign-off line, "That's the way it is" -- came to dominate television news like few before him and no one since.
"It's hard to imagine a man for whom I had more admiration," Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes said on CNN. "He was a superb reporter and honorable man."
Cronkite was the one who broke the news to Americans that President John F. Kennedy had been shot Nov. 22, 1963, interrupting a live CBS broadcast of a soap opera.
Five years later, Cronkite returned from a trip to report on the war in Vietnam and declared on television: "It seems now more certain than ever that the bloody experience of Vietnam is a stalemate." Then-President Lyndon Johnson, hearing that comment, reportedly said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost America." Soon afterward, Johnson announced he would not seek re-election, CBS News reported.
Cronkite, who also had a passion for the U.S. space program of the 1960s, died just three days before the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, another historic moment linked with his reporting.
"For decades, Walter Cronkite was the most trusted voice in America," said President Barack Obama in a statement. "His rich baritone reached millions of living rooms every night, and in an industry of icons, Walter set the standard by which all others have been judged."