06/05/2012 12:41 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Way It Was: Douglas Brinkley on Walter Cronkite

When Walter Cronkite declared, "That's the way it is," almost every weeknight from 1962 to 1981 on the CBS Evening News, it was easy to believe him. After all, the man was from Missouri. And it was here that the man who had covered stories all over the world -- he worked up until died, in 2009, at age 92 -- learned much of his journalistic trade.

According to Douglas Brinkley's new biography, Cronkite, the St. Joseph-born "Most Trusted Man in America" never really left "Kaycee" behind, even when the memories weren't that pleasant. (Brinkley speaks at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library.)

Cronkite covered World War II, President John F. Kennedy's assassination, Vietnam, Watergate and the Reagan administration. But before all of that, the 20-year-old reporter lost his job at KCMO-AM in late 1936 simply for double-checking a story.


"His boss [Jim Simmons, KCMO program director] told him one day that people were jumping from City Hall in a fire, and Cronkite wanted backup sources for it," Brinkley tells The Pitch by phone from New York. "The manager of the station said, 'I'm telling you it is. I'll do it myself. My wife says it's true.' They got into a bit of an argument, and it turns out that Cronkite was correct about it." The fire turned out to be minor, and there were no fatalities. The station fired Cronkite, Brinkley says, "because he stood up to his boss, and the story was bogus.

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