Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some Recent Deaths

Robert McNamara (1916-2009)

A genius organization man who became head of the World Bank, he will always be remembered as a kind of tragic figure for his role as U.S. Defense Secretary during much of the Vietnam War. McNamara later admitted publicly that he was wrong about Vietnam, earning plaudits in some circles and scorn in others. The latest and most enduring image of McNamara is probably that encapsulated in Errol Morris’s 2003 documentary The Fog of War (which also boasts an excellent Phillip Glass score).

Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)

The most iconic of all anchormen (take that Ed Morrow). Cronkite was "the most trusted man in America", but was ironically forced out of his job by CBS to make room for Dan Rather (big mistake). A New York Times columnist in his 80’s, Cronkite (a devout Episcopalian) served as chairman for The Interfaith Alliance.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (1921-2009)

The Kennedy sister who helped found The Special Olympics (the latest of which was held here in Boise). Wife of Sargent Shriver, first director of The Peace Corps and 1972 Democratic vice presidential candidate (one of two).

Robert Novak (1931-2009)

He seemed to attract controversy fairly regularly, and whether you love it or hate it, he was influential in the creation of the current format of cable news (so you probably hate him). He did have a sense of humor though and I appricate the title of his last book: Prince of Darkness: Fifty Years Reporting in Washington. Novak died from the brian cancer he’d been fighting for roughly a year.

Don Hewitt (1922-2009)

Another grand old man of the news, only here focused on the production side as the creator of 60 minutes. A major influence on the life of Mike Wallace.