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Taylor’s voice reminds viewers of Walter Cronkite during impeachment hearing

The legendary broadcaster trended on Twitter as William B. Taylor Jr., acting ambassador to Ukraine, testified on the first day of the televised impeachment inquiry

Left: William B. Taylor Jr., acting ambassador to Ukraine; right: Walter Cronkite. (AFP/Getty; CBS Photo Archive/The Washington Post)

William B. Taylor Jr., acting ambassador to Ukraine, testified Wednesday in the first public hearings of the House impeachment inquiry. For many watching online and on television, this is was the first time hearing Taylor’s voice.

And that voice, a steady baritone with a hint of folksy comfort, sounded very familiar.

He sounded like Walter Cronkite, the legendary broadcaster who anchored “CBS Evening News” for nearly two decades and retired in 1981. The similarity was so uncanny that within hours of Taylor’s opening statement, “Walter Cronkite” was trending on Twitter.

The Washington Post’s Matt Viser noticed it:

As did MSNBC’s Chris Jansing:

As did plenty of viewers outside the media world watching from home:

If you want to hear Cronkite for yourself, here is a 2018 Post video explaining Cronkite’s role in Americans’ perceptions of the Vietnam War. Cronkite speaks at 1:37 and 2:20.

CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite went to Vietnam to provide viewers with an assessment of the war’s progress. His one-hour special report aired on Feb. 27, 1968. (Video: Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

And here is a clip from Taylor’s testimony Wednesday.

Ambassador William Taylor on Nov. 13 testified that he had never seen a president condition foreign military assistance on that president’s political interests. (Video: The Washington Post)

The New York Times’s Astead Wesley didn’t make the Cronkite connection, but he still admired Taylor’s dulcet tones:

Which brings up another interesting comparison with history — the Senate Watergate Committee hearings in 1973. The chairman of the hearings was Sen. Sam Ervin, a North Carolina Democrat mostly known at the time for being a defender of segregation.

The hearings became a major television event, with about 85 percent of U.S. households watching at least part of the 319 hours of testimony.

Nixon and Clinton faced televised impeachment hearings. Now so will Trump.

And to those watching, Ervin was the star of the show. Viewers became enamored of his deep Southern drawl, which he used to quote Shakespeare and regularly remind everyone with faux humility, “I’m just a simple country lawyer.”

Ervin’s voice became such a cultural touchstone that he recorded an album, “Senator Sam at Home,” in which he told jokes and stories, and even performed “spoken-word” versions of popular songs.

You can listen to the full album here. His rendition of “Bridge Over Troubled Water” begins at 2:33.

Perhaps next we can expect Taylor’s version of Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts.” Or at least, since Taylor doesn’t appear to have Ervin’s quirkiness, a ringtone of Cronkite’s famous tagline:

“And that’s the way it is.”

Read more Retropolis:

How the Founding Fathers saw impeachment and ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’

‘I’m a political prisoner’: Mouthy Martha Mitchell was the George Conway of the Nixon era

Nixon and Clinton faced televised impeachment hearings. Now so will Trump.

That time Nixon released doctored transcripts during Watergate