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The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, say that in November 1969, Cronkite encouraged students at Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., to invite Maine Sen. Edmund Muskie to address a protest they were planning near Cape Kennedy (now known as Cape Canaveral). Cronkite told the group's leader that Muskie would be nearby for a fundraiser on the day of the protest, and said that "CBS would rent [a] helicopter to take Muskie to and from site of rally," according to the documents.
The claims are contained in an FBI memo recounting a confidential informant's report on a November 1969 meeting of a Rollins College protest group called Youth for New America. The group was planning rallies near Cape Kennedy on Nov. 13 and 14 — the latter being day of the Apollo 12 launch from Cape Kennedy, which President Nixon would be attending — as part of a nationwide Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam. That protest action culminated in a huge march on Washington on Nov. 15.
A CBS News spokesman declined to comment.
The memo is included in 72 pages of FBI files pertaining to Cronkite that were recently released by the bureau. The FBI claimed late last year, two months after Cronkite's death in July 2009, that all its records on the newsman had been destroyed in 2007 — which raised suspicions that the FBI may have deliberately shredded embarrassing files on its surveillance of journalists during the Cold War. The new records appear to be from files that didn't focus specifically on Cronkite's activities but that included mentions of the newsman. Among the other incidents in the newly released documents are a 1966 criminal investigation into CBS News for allegedly airing obscene language during coverage of civil-rights unrest in Mississippi; applications for Cronkite and others to travel to Cuba and China; and surveillance files on subjects who met with or were interviewed by Cronkite.