Walter Cronkite steamed over Web page jest

DAYTON, Ohio - Walter Cronkite to Tim Hughes: That's NOT the way it was. 

The former CBS anchor says he considered suing when he found a
fabricated tale and "spitting" image of himself on Hughes' "Walter
Cronkite Spit in My Food" Internet home page. 

Hughes pulled the page on Thursday, posting in its place a notice
saying, "It was never my intention to hurt anyone." 

The newsman once dubbed "the most trusted man in America" said in a
telephone interview from Chicago on Thursday that he was
stunned several months ago when he spotted the page and an accompanying
fable about a tipsy, cussing Cronkite accosting Hughes
and his wife at a Florida restaurant. 

"I punched up Cronkite just to see what was on the Internet and stumbled
on this scurrilous article," Cronkite said. "The whole thing is
just so outlandish. ... I don't think I've ever spit in my life." 

It was a joke, Hughes said Wednesday. 

The 28-year-old Internet applications developer from suburban West
Carrollton admits he made the whole thing up, doctored a photo
of Cronkite to make it appear he was spitting and altered another shot
that showed a smiling Cronkite standing next to several Ku Klux
Klansmen in full regalia. 

The story on the page he posted last spring claimed Cronkite became
enraged when the couple took a photo of him at a Moroccan
restaurant at Disney World, and began yelling at them, spewing
obscenities and boasting he had once slept with a colleague's wife,
then spit into their dessert - spice cake. 

Hughes, who described himself on the page as a "crack-smoking,
devil-worshipper who lives with his wife and 47 children in a
cardboard box," also attached a tiny disclaimer that said "actual events
may differ substantially from those depicted here." 

He said he wrote the story as a satire "in the most ludicrous light
possible," so there would be no chance anyone would believe it. 

"If someone takes it seriously, they've missed the whole point," he

But on Thursday, after fielding calls from reporters, Hughes withdrew
the page. 

"Walter didn't get the joke so the page is gone," Hughes wrote on the
page he posted announcing the departure. 

Hughes said the only truth in the tale was that Cronkite was at the
restaurant that night in 1994. The couple caught him in profile in a
photo they shot there. 

Cronkite, 80, was a fixture in America's living rooms during the 1960s
and '70s, signing off his CBS news broadcasts with the words,
"And that's the way it is." 

By The Associated Press
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