On July 20, 1969, three American men landed on the moon. As we approach the 50th anniversary of this giant step forward for mankind, there will be no shortage of TV specials looking back on the day. CNN, Discovery, National Geographic Channel, PBS, and the Smithsonian Channel are just some of the networks planning specials. It is only fitting that TV networks will mark the achievement in the weeks leading up to the anniversary, given the role TV networks played in bringing the nation together in the summer of 1969.
Expect to see a lot of Walter Cronkite, CBS News’ anchor of the era, in the lookbacks. When Apollo 11 launched, he was host of the top-rated broadcast news program, having eclipsed longtime NBC rivals Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. In fact, Cronkite’s CBS audience for the moon landing was more than the combined total for NBC and ABC that day, further cementing his legacy as the leading TV newsman for the next decade and “the most trusted man in America.”
Cronkite grew his leading viewership base in the decade leading up to the moon landing via his coverage of President John Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, followed a few years later by his reporting on the deaths of Robert Kennedy and then Martin Luther King in 1968. Read More