A Forbes columnist explained on Fox News just now why Bill O’Reilly might not replace Walter Cronkite in the hearts and minds of Americans (emphasis mine):

FOX NEWS’S MARTHA MACCALLUM: You know, I saw a poll somewhere online that asked, now that The Most Trusted Man in America has passed away, that’s what [Cronkite] was called, who is The Most Trusted Person in America now? It really got me thinking. I saw some of the names that popped up on this list. I’m wondering, Pete Snyder, what do you think? Is there one Most Trusted Man — Man or Woman, I should say — in the country right now?


PETE SNYDER (“New Media” CEO): Martha, I don’t think so. Think of what’s happened in the media industry and where people are going. It’s so fragmented where people are looking now, cable news, online, sampling a million and one different things to make their own opinion. That’s what Fox News is about —we report, you decide. I don’t think people need the voice of God anymore… It’s a plurality of folks that people trust.

MACCALLUM: Who would you name besides me?

SNYDER:…I’m sure the president would be up there. He’s not someone I particularly trust but many Americans right now do…

MACCALLUM: What do you think, Dan?

DAN GERSTEIN (Forbes columnist): I think Pete is right…

MACCULLUM: Bill O’Reilly is what you were going to say, right? I know Bill believes he’s one of the Most Trusted People in America. And I bet he probably is. Oprah Winfrey was on that list as one of the Most Trusted People in America.

GERSTEIN: I think Pete is right about the impact of the fragmentation of the media. But I also think another factor is the intrusiveness of the media. We know so much more about people’s lives, the nitty-gritty of it — we know some things* about Bill [O’Reilly] that we might not have known 20 years ago —that affects people’s trust. So I don’t think you’re going to see anywhere near the universal trust we had in someone like Walter Cronkite…

Cronkite, we hardly knew ye; There can never be another Cronkite?

*These “things?”

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.