CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite offered his advice and his news division’s resources to anti-Vienam student organizers from Rollins College in 1969, according to FBI documents uncovered in the latest Freedom of Information Law treatment from John Cook.
Mr. Cook, formerly of Gawker and now of Yahoo!, has found information about a phone call between Mr. Cronkite and student activists in which he gave them advice about organizing and offered CBS money to rent a helicopter. The helicopter would bring Maine Senator Edmund Muskie to the site of a protest that the students were planning at the launch of Apollo 12 at Cape Canaveral (then Cape Kennedy). President Nixon would also be present at the launch.
CBS News would stay to cover 36 hours of the protest and provide an “open mike,” according to a report from an FBI informant involved with the student group. The conversation is at least fourth-hand by the time it gets to Mr. Cook.
Mr. Cook checked the story with Mr. Cronkite’s son Chip.
Chip Cronkite, Walter Cronkite’s son, told Yahoo! News it’s highly unlikely that his father would ever have made such an offer. “It doesn’t have the ring of a reliable story to me,” he said. “Particularly at a time when FBI informants often told the FBI what they wanted to hear. I think it would be outside of what we know about Walter Cronkite and CBS News’ practices.”
It is unclear if Senator Muskie utlimately appeared at the protest.