Frank Rich comments in his most recent column on the “lazy journalism” I tried to describe last week. He does a much better job than I did.

That’s why the past week’s debate about whether there could ever again be a father-figure anchor with Cronkite’s everyman looks and sonorous delivery is an escapist parlor game. What matters is content, not style. The real question is this: How many of those with similarly exalted perches in the news media today — and those perches, however diminished, still do exist in the multichannel digital age — will speak truth to power when the country is on the line? This journalistic responsibility cannot be outsourced to Comedy Central and Jon Stewart.

Moving as it may be to repeatedly watch Cronkite’s famous on-camera reactions to J.F.K.’s death and the astronauts’ moon landing, those replays aren’t the story. It’s a given that an anchor might mist up during a national tragedy and cheer a national triumph. The real test is how a journalist responds when people in high places are doing low deeds out of camera view and getting away with it. Vietnam and Watergate, not Kennedy and Neil Armstrong, are what made Cronkite Cronkite.

The main problem I had with David Gregory’s email last week was that he was trying to be a friend to Governor Sanford and the staffer(s) at the expense of what he is actually paid to do. And if David Gregory can’t be tough when a governor’s steamy sex secrets are exposed, what are the chances he’d speak truth to power when presented with more substantive tests? Not good.

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