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The Most Trusted Voice In America


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Title: The Most Trusted Voice In America
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Published: Jan 11, 2021
Author: Various Authors
Post Date: 2021-01-11 03:47:43 by Gatlin
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#1. To: tankumo, All (#0)

Who is the most trusted voice in America?
By Dennis Romboy

You have to go back a few decades to remember when Walter Cronkite was the “most trusted man in America.”

The venerable Cronkite anchored the “CBS Evening News” for 19 years before retiring in 1981.

His kind but authoritative baritone guided viewers through some of the most traumatic and dramatic events of the 20th century, including the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy; the civil rights movement in the South; the first man to walk on the moon; the Vietnam War and Watergate.

In 1972, prominent pollster Oliver Quayle wanted to determine the level of trust people had for those running for public office that year, including Richard Nixon, Ted Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. Inexplicably, the CBS anchorman who ruled the network news ratings was added to the list.

Cronkite won out, though the survey didn’t ask about his rivals John Chancellor of NBC or Harry Reasoner of ABC.

CBS newsman Walter Cronkite is interviewed in his office at the CBS broadcast center 524 West 57th Street in New York, Feb. 3, 1981. Marty Lederhandler, Associated Press That was enough for CBS to brand its news anchor “the most trusted man in America.”

Deserved or not — media critic Jack Shafer wrote in a column after Cronkite’s death in 2009 that his trust index score “seemed impressive until you considered the skunks polled alongside him” — the label stuck.

An Obama administration statement on Cronkite’s passing read in part: “He was someone we could trust to guide us through the most important issues of the day; a voice of certainty in an uncertain world. He was family. He invited us to believe in him, and he never let us down.”

Is there such a person in America today?

Do Americans even trust each other any more in this climate of bitter partisan politics, opinionated news outlets, cheating sports stars and unscrupulous business moguls?

When Cronkite ended the evening news with his signature tagline, “And that’s the way it is,” that was how it was.

Not so anymore.

Of course, there were only three major TV networks and PBS in the country doing news broadcasts when Cronkite was on the air. Daily newspapers were more local or regional than national, limiting readers’ exposure to different voices.

The internet and social media brought access to seemingly unlimited sources of information — and misinformation — competing for people’s attention. Many news outlets have aligned themselves with one political philosophy or another. Americans trust voices they agree with and disparage those they don’t.

Former President Barack Obama recently told The Atlantic that when he finished his memoir, “A Promised Land,” he worried about the degree to which the country does not have a common baseline of fact and a common story.

“We don’t have a Walter Cronkite describing the tragedy of Kennedy’s assassination but also saying to supporters and detractors alike of the Vietnam War that this is not going the way the generals and the White House are telling us. Without this common narrative, democracy becomes very tough,” he said.

Millennials see the world differently than Baby Boomers who see the world differently than the dwindling Greatest Generation.

In querying many people from various walks of life about who might be America’s trusted voice today, a wide collection of names came up: Michelle Obama, Bill and Melinda Gates, Elon Musk, Taylor Swift, Tom Hanks, David McCullough, Oprah Winfrey, President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Is it really weird that the only person I can think of is Dolly Parton?” said Utah Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson.

Maybe not.

The 74-year-old country star reemerged on Netflix, was the subject of an NPR podcast, donated $1 million toward coronavirus vaccine research, dropped a new song — “When Life is Good Again” — and has 5.1 million followers on Twitter, where she posted a reassuring message of hope amid the pandemic.

But like many others, Parton appeals to a limited audience, not the masses. And some of them also generate a lot of strong negative feelings.

So after a little head scratching, the answer often was no one fits the bill.

“Unfortunately and even a bit ominously, we do not have a most trusted voice in America right now. Each of us, in our own lives, can point to people we trust because they have earned it — whether certain family members, local civic or church leaders, teachers or coaches — but not a voice for all of us,” said Kael Weston, a Utah author and military instructor who spent seven years with the State Department in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Republicans view most media as untrustworthy — except Fox News, study finds Understanding ‘pink slime journalism’ and what it reveals about conservatives and liberals Says Florida-based independent pollster Scott Rasmussen, who co-founded ESPN earlier in his professional career, “I do not believe there is any trusted person or resource remotely close to Cronkite in today’s world.”

Rasmussen asked people in a recent survey to identify which of the following news sources they considered unbiased: the New York Times, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, PBS, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post. None topped 30%. “None of the above” was the choice for 36%.

Natalie Gochnour, an economist and associate dean at the University of Utah business school, settled on a thing rather than a person. (Swift was her second choice — “aged well” as an artist, terrific albums this year, spoken out on important social matters.)

Her choice: National Public Radio.

Her reasoning: The most important factor to me in this decision was to look at America’s next and rising generation. I asked myself the question who is a trusted voice for millennials, the largest generational group in America with over 72 million people?

Gochnour said in her experience, millennials frustrated with the “alarming and sensationalized” voices of cable and network news turn to NPR as a trusted source of information during a period when trusted sources are needed.

All things considered, that might never be more true than during a tumultuous 2020.

Certainly Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, would be at the top of some lists. Fauci has calmly guided the nation through the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis with understandable explanations and straight talk.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, testifies during a Senate Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Hearing on the federal government response to COVID-19 on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington. Graeme Jennings, Associated Press

Former Democratic senator and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman said the most popular broadcasters now are trusted mostly by those who agree with their political opinions.

“That is very different from Cronkite because we didn’t know what his political opinions were,” Lieberman told the Deseret News.

Lieberman, who also identified as an independent Democrat, said it’s hard to find a broadly trusted leader in government or even religion today.

“So, the name that comes to my mind is Bill Gates — successful, smart to the point of being wise, nonpartisan, and an enormously generous and strategic philanthropist and global problem solver,” he said.

A new Gallup poll in an open-ended question found Americans are most likely to name President Donald Trump and Michelle Obama as the most admired man and woman in 2020.

But that’s not the same as most trusted.

When you Google “Who is the most trusted person in America?” Tom Hanks tops the list of results. That’s because Reader’s Digest in 2013 compiled a list of 200 American opinion shapers, leaders and headline makers from 15 professions, including entertainment, politics, media and business, for a nationwide public opinion poll.

Hanks emerged atop the magazine’s “100 Most Trusted People in America” list as a result of the survey. Sandra Bullock finished as runner-up.

That was more than seven years ago. It doesn’t appear that there have been many attempts since to identify the country’s most trusted voice. And maybe there isn’t one.

Cronkite himself didn’t seem to put too much stock into the title, telling USA Today in 2002, “Trust is such an individual thing. I don’t think it’s definable.”

After Cronkite died, New York magazine put together a list of the “new” most trusted person in America: Winfrey, Hanks, Colin Powell, Gen. David Patraeus, Jay Leno, Warren Buffett, Jon Stewart, Michelle Obama, Suze Orman and Tom Brokaw.

Some of them might make the list today.

Buffett, the 90-year-old investor, business tycoon, philanthropist and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, is the choice of former Health and Human Services secretary and GOP Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt after some thoughtful consideration.

Leavitt described Buffett as a widely known icon who is respected as among the best in the world at what he does. Buffett, he said, is essentially nonpolitical and leads by giving much of his fortune away.

And perhaps a characteristic most critical to being a trusted voice, Leavitt said Buffett is able to speak truth to power.

In 2008, the New York Times ran a story with the headline, “Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America?”

When Americans were asked in a 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press to name the journalist they most admired, Stewart, the entertainer/fake news anchor, came in at No. 4, tied with the real news anchors Brian Williams and Brokaw of NBC, Dan Rather of CBS and Anderson Cooper of CNN.

Last year, the American Conservative posted a story with a more definitive take.

“Joe Rogan: The Most Trusted Man in America,” read the headline. A comedian, television host and UFC color commentator, his podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” is one of the most popular in the country and tops the Apple Podcast charts.

But is he really the most trusted person in America? Is Hanks? Is Oprah? Is Gates?

Is anyone?

RIP Walter Cronkite’.

https://www.deseret.com/utah/2021/1/9/21542674/trusted-voice- america-bill-gates-oprah-obama-dolly-parton-taylor-swift-tom-hanks

Gatlin  posted on  2021-01-11   3:49:09 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: tankumo, All (#0)


How did Walter Cronkite become “the most trusted man in America”?

Walter Cronkite was born in St. Joseph, Missouri on November 1, 1916. Walter and his parents, Helen Lena and Dr. Walter Leland Cronkite lived in Kansas City, Missouri until the age of ten, when his father moved the family to Houston, Texas for a dentistry job.

Walter first was thrust into the world of journalism as a 16-year-old student at San Jacinto High School when journalism instructor, Fred Birney, named him the editor of the school newspaper. After working for the paper for a few years, Birney secured Walter a job as the Houston Post’s correspondant to the University of Texas in Austin when he was just 19-years-old. Walter also attended The University of Texas, where he worked on the Daily Texan student newspaper.

Young Cronkite

Cronkite dropped out of college in the fall of 1935 after starting a series of newspaper reporting jobs. At this point, Cronkite got his first taste of broadcast journalism. He became a radio announcer for WKY in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The next year, he was hired at KCMO radio station in Kansas City, Missouri as the sole member of the entire news and sports departments. It was at KCMO that Cronkite would meet his future wife, Mary Elizabeth Maxwell, better remembered as “Betsy”. Betsy and Cronkite would remain married until her death in 2005.

Cronkite joined the United Press, an international news agency and wire service, in 1937. In 1939, Walter was sent overseas to cover the events of World War II where he became known as one of the best American war reporters. In his time overseas, Cronkite covered important events such as the Normany Invasion, the Seige of London, the North African campaigns, and the Battle of the Buldge during his time with the United Press. Cronkite was one of eight journalists who were chosen by the United States Army Air Forces to fly bombing raids over Germany in a B- 17 Flying Fortress as a member of a group of journalists called the “Writing 69th”. After the war was won, Walter covered the Nuremberg Trials and continued to work as the United Press’ main reporter in Moscow for two more years from 1946 to 1948.


Cronkite joined CBS News in its new television division in 1950 after being recruited by Edward R. Murrow. Cronkite began to work at WTOP-TV, the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C.. Cronkite served as anchor of the 15-minute late-Sunday-evening newscast Up To the Minute from 1951 to 1962. It was at CBS in the 1950’s that Cronkite was first referred to as an “Anchorman” a new term that instantly stuck.

From 1953 to 1957, Cronkite hosted the CBS program You Are There which reenacted historical events using the format of an old news report. Another assignment was The Morning Show, CBS’s attempt at challenging NBC’s Today in 1954. Cronkite would interview guests while chatting with a lion puppet named Charlemane about the news.

Cronkite was also the lead broadcaster of CBS’s coverage of the 1960 Winter Olympics. It was the first time ever that an event like the olympics was televised in the United States.

On April 16, 1962, Cronkite replaced Douglas Edwards as Anchorman of the CBS Evening News, a job for which would transform him into an american icon. Cronkite was in the right place at the right time; a year after becoming anchor the program expanded from 15 minutes to an unprecedented 30 minutes. Walter Cronkite had become the anchorman for American network televisions first nightly half-hour news program. In an era where ABC, NBC, and CBS were the only broadcast networks, Cronkite had become the predominant voice and face of american news media. This exposure granted him unparalleled influence over the American public.

When Cronkite first took over as anchor of the CBS Evening News, the program was chronically behind NBC’s Huntley-Brinkley Report in ratings for most of the 1960s. Late in the decade, RCA made a decision to not fund NBC news at the level that CBS was willing to fund CBS News. Because of this, CBS earned a reputation for having greater resources, accuracy, and depth to their broadcasts. Cronkite’s history with United Press wire service aided this perception of unbiased reporting, and in 1967 CBS Evening News beat The Huntley-Brinkley Report in viewership.

After reporting on the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 moon missions, Cronkite received the best ratings of all the network anchors, and made CBS the most-watched TV network for the mission coverage. During the moon landing broadcast in 1969, nearly two out of three american homes were tuned to CBS to hear Cronkite report on the events. The next year, Chet Huntley retired, and the CBS Evening News began to dominate the American TV news audience.

Walter Cronkite would continue to be top-rated until his retirement announcement in 1981. Cronkite is today the broadcast journalist by which all others will forever be compared. It is somewhat astonishing to believe today that Cronkite, a news anchor, was surveyed as “the most trusted man in America”, since todays mainstream media is so heavily dissected and criticized on a daily basis.

Cronkite trained himself to speak only 124 words per minute, about 40 less than the national average, to help viewers understand him. In Cronkite’s eyes, it was his job to report the news, not what he thought of the news. Cronkite is famous not only for his impartiality and journalistic integrity, but the few recorded instances of emotion he expressed on air. These instances, including the moon landing, assassination of JFK, and his editorial about the stalemate in Vietnam humanized the Anchorman, and helped earn him the fond nickname of, “Uncle Walter”. Americans really felt as if Cronkite was a member of their family, and for good reason, for 20 years nearly 25 million americans tuned into CBS everynight, to hear Uncle Walter report the days news.

Walter Cronkite was always first a journalist, but became an American icon and a true celebrity.

Walter Cronkite died in July 2009 at the age of 92 due to complications related to dementia.

https://blogs.uoregon.edu/frengsj387/who-was-walter- cronkite/

Gatlin  posted on  2021-01-11   3:57:51 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#3. To: tankumo, All (#0)

The Most Trusted Freshman in America

Upon graduating from Houston’s San Jacinto High School in May 1933, Walter Cronkite went on a road trip in a late-model Dodge with class buddies to the Chicago World’s Fair. The fair’s motto was “Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Adapts,” and it was held on 427 acres on the Near South Side of Chicago, along Lake Michigan. While Cronkite enjoyed hearing the Andrews Sisters sing live and studying dwellings in a Homes of Tomorrow exhibit, it was the See Yourself on TV interactive display that owned his enthusiasm.

“They were inviting people to come up and be on television,” Cronkite recalled. “Naturally, being the ham I’ve always been, I stepped up immediately.” Standing stationary in front of a newfangled contraption called a television—really just a twitching little screen—Cronkite looked into the camera and goofed off, playing two clarinets at once like Benny Goodman gone mad. Besides the clowning around, all that was noticeable on the screen was some Texas barber’s idea of a haircut. Yet this thirty seconds of World’s Fair camera time allowed Cronkite—who would go on to anchor the CBS News from 1962 to 1981—to comically brag that he was on the tube years before Edward R. Murrow.

At that point, however, journalism was a long way from Cronkite’s mind. When it came time for college, he enrolled in the mining engineering program at the University of Texas at Austin. Like many Houstonians, he dreamed of huge fortunes in the oil industry. But he was prone to sleeping late and soon discovered that learning the intricacies of hydraulics, mineral determination, and blasting was a complex business. By October 1933, it was brutally apparent that the physics in Professor C. Paul Boner’s class was too complicated for Cronkite to master. In the ne’er-do-well fashion of youth, he preferred attending stadium-rattling Longhorn football games and Dixieland stomps to dull science classes.

Instead of living in a dormitory, Cronkite moved into the Chi Phi fraternity house at 1704 West Avenue. It was the former home of Colonel Edward M. House, Woodrow Wilson’s closest adviser. The editor of the Daily Texan was a Chi Phi named D. B. Hardeman. Cronkite became fast friends with him and began contributing to the paper. Determined to be the big man on campus, Cronkite went to every social function imaginable, usually with Vance Muse Jr., a high school classmate who now wrote a column for the Daily Texan called Musings. In letters to his mother, Cronkite boasted of dating popular girls from the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, including Louise Rhea, “the campus big shot of Fort Worth,” whom he brought to his fraternity’s formal dance one year. Later in Cronkite’s life, the humorist Art Buch­wald took exception to the anchorman’s overdrawn boast of prowess with Longhorn women, claiming that his friend graduated from the University of Texas a “magna cum virgin.”

Encouraged by his fraternity brothers at Chi Phi, where he cut a popular figure, Cronkite ran his only political race—for freshman class vice president. His campaign slogan read “Freshmen, Vote for the New Deal Ticket. For President—GEORGE ATKINS of North Texas, Halfback of Football Team. For Vice-President—WALTER CRONKITE of South Texas, Daily Texan staff. FAIR—SQUARE—INDEPENDENT.” He was beaten badly. What made the licking unbearable was that Joe Greenhill, a friend from San Jacinto High School and one of his Chicago trip companions, was the ballot-box victor (Greenhill would later serve as chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court from 1972 to 1982). Losing punctured Cronkite’s whole big- man-on-campus facade and sent him looking for another way to make his mark.

And so, having turned from mining to politics, he now turned from politics to journalism. His path, however, was still unclear. Getting paid by the word was a hard racket during the Depression, and studying the communications industry—learning how to be a radio operator, for example—made only slightly more job-market sense. To really make it in the fourth estate, you had to develop a brand identity, like Walter Lippmann. You had to have a well-rounded knowledge of politics, economics, and international affairs. When a popular gossip columnist such as Walter Winchell, of the New York Daily Mirror, took to radio, beginning his broadcast with “Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. America, from border to border and coast to coast and all the ships at sea,” it was clear that a global radio revolution was under way. A sense of the world, it seemed, was a prerequisite for an aspiring broadcaster. But Cronkite was too lackadaisical with his studies for that. He never even learned a foreign language. If UT stood for anything to Cronkite, it was partying at the Chi Phi house. “I missed a lot of classes,” Cronkite admitted.

But he found a home at the Daily Texan nonetheless. And while most of his articles for the paper were of the calendar-event kind, he did score a coup with an interview of Gertrude Stein at the Driskill Hotel. Accompanied by Alice B. Toklas, her famous partner, Stein was in town to give a public lecture. If one were to pick a high point of Cronkite’s fledgling journalism career in the thirties, it would be his profile “Miss Stein Not Out for Show, But Knows What She Knows.” Cronkite took a real shine to Stein, who was dressed in a “mannish blouse, a tweed skirt, a peculiar but attractive vest, and comfortable-looking shoes.” Calling Stein a “modern,” Cronkite enthused that the famed author of Three Lives was a twentieth-century-thinking woman visiting a nineteenth-century-thinking Austin. “She is genuine,” Cronkite reported after his 45-minute interview with Stein. “The real thing in person.”

Writing newspaper articles now became Cronkite’s primary focus, and he fashioned his identity from the work. Using his Daily Texan clippings as bait, Cronkite secured a job freelancing articles about campus life and the Legislature for the Houston Press. He developed a keen interest in politics and often wore a soft fabric suit with a shining watch chain across his vest and two-tone wing tips, which he never polished. In time, he was contributing well-crafted columns to several other Texas newspapers as well. If these papers offered anything, it was a pittance (for one column in a local paper, he received 90 cents). But college cost money, while journalism usually paid him.

Except it didn’t pay him much. So when he was offered $75 a week (more than his father made as a dentist) to announce horse races at a bookie joint, he seized the opportunity. It was a dangerous, mob-related job. The sawdust-floor establishment smelled of smoke and rye. He made acquaintance with shady characters—gamblers, drunks, and con men. “I’d never been in a place like this before, so I gave them the real Graham McNamee approach, described the running of the race and all,” Cronkite recalled. “A mean character ran this place—a guy named Fox. . . . [He] came chasing into the room and asked me, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing? We don’t want entertainment! We just want the facts!’ ”

Cronkite was a bit of a card, a jocular egotist wanting to please and show off in front of adoring crowds. Unfortunately, people simply didn’t see Cronkite as he saw himself. When he went out for the leading role in a UT Curtain Club production, he was cast instead as a stodgy, middle- aged doctor. Cronkite considered himself colorful, even dashing; other people thought of him as Mr. Beige. What Cronkite came to understand, during nightly rehearsals that went on from seven till midnight, was that he’d never become a Broadway or Hollywood star. To his peers he was simply mundane.

So he abandoned the stage in favor of a field in which everyone could be an adventurer. Broadcast radio was entering its own golden age during the Depression, with live programming on stations all through the day. Local stations needed singers, musicians, announcers, and whipcord personalities, along with Christian clergy to give prayers and pundits to speak on world affairs. Each U.S. radio station created a carnival in its studio. The four radio networks—CBS, Mutual, NBC Blue, and NBC Red— provided regional or national programming in the evenings. Cronkite’s best asset in 1934 was a budding reputation as an authority on sports—a boon in tackle-hard Texas. Years later he recalled that he failed his freshman engineering class at UT in part because he couldn’t fathom the workings of a pulley. Yet he had a good memory for football rosters, baseball box scores, and horse-racing numbers.

In 1935, while still a UT student, Cronkite was hired by KNOW, a major AM radio station in Austin, as “the man who gets behind the campus news.” It was a heady prospect, since he wouldn’t merely be a reporter but the “talent”—earning a dollar a day. The fact that Cronkite landed the job at KNOW, whose studio was in an alley behind Sixth Street, without any real radio experience indicated that he could sell himself. Later, the station asked him to write and read a sports report every Tuesday and Friday at 5:15 p.m. As an added perk he got to drink free 3.2 percent beer. In his memoir, A Reporter’s Life, Cronkite writes eloquently of how incredible it was to be alive in the “crystal days” of radio, reading the Western Union baseball score ticker. “One could tell a wireless faddist,” Cronkite recalled. “He or she was the one whose eyes were rimmed with dark circles from having stayed up all night, when reception was best, bringing in distant stations.”

At KNOW, Cronkite was shackled by the same conundrum that faced all radio at the time: corroborating facts was difficult. His boss, Harfield Weedin—who later became the general manager of Lady Bird Johnson’s Austin radio station, KTBC, and then the West Coast head of CBS Radio— warned Cronkite of abusing the airwaves with erroneous babble. Nevertheless, Cronkite was expected to read aloud sports scores with flair, even though he didn’t have the actual play-by-play color at his disposal. Because the wire services didn’t provide access to these game results, Cronkite had to be cunning and resourceful. A local Austin tobacconist, who encouraged patrons to linger in the shop and smoke, paid for a ticker service to provide up-to-date box scores, which were then transcribed to a blackboard. Cronkite would study the blackboard and memorize the teams, the scores, and the highlights for his broadcasts later. His modus operandi was ragged, but it worked.

In the spring semester of 1935, after two years at the University of Texas, Cronkite dropped out. At the time, college was still considered a luxury, not a birthright, and given Cronkite’s steadily diminishing returns, the family couldn’t afford the UT tuition. He had lost the opportunity to be a college-educated man.

Although Cronkite never earned a UT degree, he always considered himself an alumnus. “Hook ’em, Horns” forever. Because the Daily Texan had allowed him to write feature stories as a budding reporter, he remained extremely loyal to the university once he made it big at CBS News. UT’s burnt orange and white colors were his coat of arms. In the nineties, he lent his signature voice, pro bono, to a whole host of public service announcements promoting the university. If you attended a Longhorn sporting event during that decade, you’d see the huge face of Cronkite suddenly appear on the JumboTron, making appeals for financial support for the athletic teams. On a couple of occasions, when asked who his best friend was, Cronkite would jokingly name Bevo, the university’s Longhorn mascot.

Later in life he told his daughter, Kathy, who lives today in Austin, that he was embarrassed because he had never graduated. Kathy pointed out that even without a college degree, he had nevertheless become the best TV broadcaster in American history.

“Yes,” Cronkite shot back, “but if I had gotten a formal education, I could have been the kaiser!”

https://www.texasmonthly.com/articles/the-most-trusted- freshman-in-america/

Gatlin  posted on  2021-01-11   4:05:27 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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