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Legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite gravely ill

June 19, 2009

Legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite, 92, long known as the "Most Trusted Man in America," is gravely ill, according to multiple CBS News sources and published reports.

According to Mediabistro's blog, TVNewser, the network began updating his obituary more than a week ago; a CBS News executive had no comment to TVNewser on the reports of Cronkite's failing health.

One of the most recognized and honored journalists in America, Cronkite anchored the "CBS Evening News" for 19 years, when he was replaced by Dan Rather.

Cronkite remained a special correspondent for the network through the years.

The St. Joseph, Mo., native got his start as a battlefield correspondent during World War II for the United Press. In 1950 he came to CBS radio as a Washington correspondent.

Cronkite jumped into the fledgling TV news world in 1962 when he was named anchor of the 15-minute "CBS Evening News," which became the first 30-minute network newscast the following year with Cronkite at the anchor desk.

From the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to publicly questioning U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War to the landing of the first man on the moon, Cronkite was known for a tell-it-like-it-is reporting style that was often tinged with genuine emotion.

Thought of as the dean of broadcast journalism, Cronkite's style has long been the hallmark of television reporting. A journalism school at Arizona State University was named for him, and a number of industry awards are in his name, too.

In addition to leading the "Evening News" to perpetual first-place ratings, Cronkite gave the country one of the best-known catchphrases in TV history with his nightly sign-off, "And that's the way it is..."

TVNewser quotes Cronkite speaking on his own mortality from a 2006 interview:

"When you get to be 89, you have to think about it a little bit. It doesn't prey on me, and it doesn't keep me awake nights. Occasionally, when I'm upset about something else, I think, 'My gosh, I don't know if I should do this or that because I'm not sure I'll be here that long to enjoy it.'"