Oct 1 1989

Cronkite for Hire

Once labeled “the most trusted man in America,” former CBS anchor and current board member Walter Cronkite has come under attack for accepting $25,000 from the extremist, industry-sponsored American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). For that fee, he narrated the pro-pesticide documentary, Big Fears, Little Risks, which aired on PBS stations this summer.

In the documentary, Cronkite pooh-poohed consumer fears of pesticides as “chemophobia.” Without the pretense of balance, the film presented only the views of scientists who support ACSH’s anti-environmentalist, anti-regulatory positions. Cronkite added some ridicule: “Can we find ourselves placing a hazardous warning label on every salt shaker in America?”

The documentary was indirectly funded by pesticide-makers Dow and Monsanto, pesticide promoters like the National Agricultural Chemicals Association,and right-wing financiers such as Joseph Coors and Richard Mellon Scaife (Columbia Journalism Review, 9-10/89).