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