Fueled by events and attitudes from the 1960s, the1970s bloomed with flower power, sexual liberation, drug use and protests. The counterculture's impact on the 1970s also included music and fashion. But as exciting as the social movement was, it wouldn't be outdone by the media drama.
Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein uncovered President Richard Nixon's involvement with the Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon's resignation. Convinced that the Vietnam War was wrong, Daniel Ellsberg, a former Marine and Department of Defense expert, leaked the 1968 Defense Department history of Vietnam, later referred to as the Pentagon Papers, to The New York Times.
All in the Family, a television show with a bigoted protagonist, debuted along with a host of other programs dealing with the social issues of the day. Gonzo journalism emerged. Personal computers, an invention that would cross the decades and revolutionize media, originated in the 1970s.
In 1972 and 1973, Woodward worked with fellow Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein on stories that led to the resignation of President Nixon in 1974. Supported by The Washington Post editor Ben Bradley, the pair investigated a foiled burglary of the Democratic Party's headquarters in the Watergate Hotel. Eventually, their investigations of the break-in revealed a scandal involving the Committee to Re-Elect the President and Nixon himself. Many of the high-ranking committee members and members of Nixon's administration were indicted on federal charges of burglary and disrupting Democratic Party activities. In 1973, Woodward and Bernstein won the Pulitzer Prize for their stories.
Many considered Woodward and Bernstein's investigation foolish and their stories inaccurate. The pair's use of an anonymous source, known as Deep Throat, fueled the skepticism of the public and eve their editor, Ben Bradley. Their stories revealed the truth about Nixon's and other high-ranking officials' unscrupulous behavior to get Nixon re-elected. Woodward and Bernstein have been credited with cracking the Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon's resignation August 8, 1974. In 1973, Bernstein and Woodward won the Pulitzer Prize for their stories.
A newspaper and magazine publisher who transformed The Washington Post into one of the most influential newspapers in the country. She took control of the paper in 1963, after the suicide of her husband, Phil Graham. In 1971 she gave her editors approval to publish the Pentagon Papers after a federal court enjoined The New York Times from doing so. Three years later she encouraged reporters Bernstein and Woodward in their relentless investigation of the Watergate scandal. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for her memoir, Personal History.
Upset after Richard Nixon refused to promote him to the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mark Felt anonymously leaked information about the president's roll in the Watergate Scandal to Bob Woodward of the Washington Post. Woodward, Carl Bernstein and the Washington Post honored Felt's request to remain anonymous, and the secret identity of "Deep Throat" remained hotly debated in Washington DC for for 35 years. Felt, who was in failing health and losing his memory, finally admitted his identity as the source in a 2005 Vanity Fair article, shortly before his death.
Walters moved up the professional ladder at NBC's The Today Show, a morning news program, and was part of the news team sent to report on President Richard Nixon's historic visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972. She was finally named co-host of The Today Show in 1974. She was part of the news team sent to report on President Richard Nixon's historic visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972.In 1976, Walters moved to the ABC Evening News to become the first female co-anchor of a national, nightly news show. She did not have a good working relationship with co-anchor Harry Reasoner.In 1979, she was teamed with Hugh Downs on the news show 20/20, a much more amicable pairing. During the 1970s, world figures interviewed by Walters included Egypt's President Anwar Al Sadat, Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Cuba's President Fidel Castro.
In 1970, Hersh, an investigative reporter, broke the story of the My Lai massacre, recounting how U.S. troops killed over 300 unarmed civilian in the small Vietnamese village of My Lai. He won a Pulitzer Prize for the piece, which prompted an investigation of the attempted cover-up by the U.S. military. Hersh's report greatly contributed to the flagging support the Vietnam War received from the American public.
McKay was a sport announcer and journalist known for his work on ABC's Wide World of Sports when, during the 1972 Olympics, he became the face of ABC's coverage of the Munich hostage crisis, reporting on the events for 16 hours as they unfolded. When the rescue attempt ended in disaster. after it had originally been reported as a success, McKay relayed the information to the American viewing public.
"When I was a kid my father used to say our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized. Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They have now said there were eleven hostages; two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight. They're all gone." McKay said.
American journalist and feminist, Steinem gained prominence as a spokeswoman for women's rights both in lectures and television appearances. She helped found the National Women's Political Caucus (1971), the Women's Action Alliance (1971) and the Coalition of Labor Union Women (1974). She was also the founding editor (1972-87) of Ms., a feminist magazine. Her books include Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983) and Revolution from Within (1992).
Originally a sports journalist, Thompson wrote for Rolling Stone during the late 1960s and 1970s and published several books. He is called the father of gonzo journalism, a writing style marked by his manic and twisted lifestyle — including the use of practically every recreational drug known to man. Some of his best known books include The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time, Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, and Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.
Richard Nixon campaigned in 1968 on a "peace with honor" platform, but escalated the war after his election to the presidency. During the first half of the 1970s, the United States would expand the war to the neighboring countries of Laos and Cambodia before signing the Paris Peace Treaty, "officially" ending American involvement.
The civil war between North and South Vietnam would continue, eventually ending with the fall of Saigon to the Communist forces of the North Vietnamese Army. For Americans, the final images from the 10-year war would be that of Vietnamese refugees and American nationals climbing into helicopters from the roof of the United Stages embassy in Saigon.
This post-Vietnam period, when the Watergate scandal played out on television and in newspapers, marked a new era from which a widespread political cynicism emerged. Confidence in the country's future seemed to erode on a daily basis. The final withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, with devastating casualties and no victory, was only one reason why.
The economy had also started to sink, and with it went consumer confidence. In the mid-1970s the cost of living was roughly one-third higher than it had been in 1960. The stock market was sagging, and in 1971 unemployment hit 6 percent while inflation continued unabated. By 1974, consumer prices had soared more than 10 percent and unemployment was nearly as high.
The American conviction in lower and middle class upward mobility began to falter during this decade. It became widely apparent that many within the lower strata of the socioeconomic hierarchy were not going to have a better life than the one their parents created for themselves. No longer was everyone moving forward together.
Republican Gerald Ford rose to the vice presidency when his successor Spiro Agnew resigned in disgrace. The affable Ford then had to step in as president when Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment for Watergate. Ford, tinged with his pardon of Nixon and mired in inflation and fuel shortages, lost re-election to outsider Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Carter, a Democrat, benefited from being an outsider with no ties to Washington. But, he soon found himself mired in economic crises and the Iranian hostage crisis, ensuring defeat in his attempt at a second term in 1980.
The chaotic events of the 1960s, including war and social change, seemed destined to continue in the 1970s. Major trends included a growing disillusionment of government, advances in civil rights, increased influence of the women's movement, a heightened concern for the environment and increased space exploration.
Many of the "radical" ideas of the 1960s gained wider acceptance in the new decade and were mainstreamed into American life and culture. The events of the times were reflected in and became the inspiration for much of the music, literature, entertainment and fashion of the decade.
The 1970s also gave birth to mainstream computers. In 1977, American students Stephen P. Jobs and Stephen G. Wozniak founded the Apple Computer Co. and introduced the Apple II personal computer. The Apple II was much less expensive than computers up to that time and sold successfully for business and even some home use. Apple II became first mass-market PC.
IBM joined the field in 1981. Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft to develop software for the fledgling "Altair 8800" personal computer. The company eventually dominated the PC software market with its MS DOS and Windows operating systems and other software innovations.
Four students were shot and killed by National Guardsman during protests on the Kent State campus. The students were protesting the U.S. invasion of Cambodia which President Nixon had announced the week before.
An audio recording of the protest surfaced 35 years later, reopening a debate regarding whether the guard were ordered to open fire on the students.
College student photographer John Paul Filo won a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio crouching over the body of student Jeffery Miller. During the early 1970s, the photograph was altered by someone to remove a fence post from behind Vecchio.
On May 14, 1970, another confrontation in Mississippi with police at the traditionally black college of Jackson State left two protesters dead, but received less media attention.
All in the Family debuts on CBS, a challenging situation-comedy, or sitcom, that cast a bright light on the social issues of the day. Unlike programs from the 1950s and 1960s, Norman Leer's satirical creation commented on what ailed the nation, refusing to gloss over or ignore the ugly side of American society. Similar to All in the Family's commentary on racism, the television show, M*A*S*H, addressed the Vietnam through comedy and drama.
In 1968, U.S. soldiers led by Lieutenant William Calley entered the village of My Lai and massacred 300 unarmed civilians, mainly woman, children and elderly. Calley was found guilty of the premeditated killings of 22 them. Sentenced to life, Calley was eventually released in 1974 after multiple appeals.The trial highlighted the rift growing in American opinion of the war.
The New York Times began publishing excerpts of the 7,000-page government study of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers. The document was originally leaked by a former Pentagon employee, Daniel Ellsberg. The U.S. government attempted to prohibit the publication, but the Supreme Court decided, in New York Times Co vs. United States, that the government actions were not justified, but the prior restraint horse was already out of the barn after Ellsberg sent copies of the Pentagon Papers to numerous other news affiliates.
Arab terrorists raid the Olympic Village in Munich and hold Israeli athletes hostage. The events unfolded under the spotlight of the world media, and 11 hostages were killed during a botched rescue attempt at the airport.
A 7-2 decision by the Supreme Court legalized abortions in the U.S. The fallout from the decision would continue to divide American opinion past the end of the century. Support or opposition for the decision was a touchstone for many seeking political office, and would spark violence, terror attacks and murder.
After years of war, the U.S., North and South Vietnam agreed to stop the fighting, ending years of American participation which had begun during the Kennedy administration. American POWs were released and drawdowns of U.S. ground forces began. As the networks broadcast pictures of former prisoners-of-war returning to the home soil, American's assumed their long nightmare in Vietnam was over.
"Burst of Joy," a photo taken of prisoner-of-war Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm reuniting with his family, won the 1974 Pulitzer Prize in Photography for Associated Press photographer Sal Veder.
Members of the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patricia "Patty" Hearst, the 19-year-old granddaughter of publisher William Randolph Hearst. The young heiress eventually grew to support the cause of the SLA and participated in a bank robbery to help finance the group. Following her arrest, Hearst served two years in prison before having her sentence commuted by President Jimmy Carter.
Richard Nixon resigns in order to avoid impeachment and prosecution for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.
Hostilities in Vietnam re-ignited in December of 1974 when North Vietnamese forces invaded South Vietnamese territory. The South Vietnamese president called for U.S. air support to throw back the invasion, but no relief came. Without American support to prop up the government, South Vietnam collapsed, and on in late April, as North Vietnamese forces approached, President Ford insisted on evacuating as many refugees as possible before the last American helicopters finally lifted off from the U.S. embassy in Saigon on April 30th.
Viking I lands on Mars. Following the Viking II mission later in 1976, it would be 20 more years before the U.S. space program would return to Mars, as limited government funding would be concentrated on the new Space Shuttle program, which had both civilian and military value.
Elvis Presley, the "King of Rock 'n' Roll", died at age 42. Though no longer a hit maker, the cult of personality for Presley fostered a lucrative business for his family and estate. However, rumors that Elvis faked his death saturated the American tabloid newspapers for decades.
Following a 12 days of secret talks, Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed an agreement to halt years of conflict between the two nations. The led to normalization of relations and an official peace treaty in 1979. While the accord was an important first step, it would be years before any further progress would be made between Israel and its other Arab neighbors.
Following the murder of Congressman Leo J. Ryan and four others, Jim Jones, leader of the Peoples Temple, and 900 of his followers commit mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana.
Three Mile Island becomes the worst nuclear power plant accident in the history of the U.S. Though there were no fatalities, no new reactors were built in the United States after the accident.
The Pentagon Papers was the popular name given to a government study of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia, commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara in June 1967. The 47-volume, top-secret study covered the period from World War II to May 1968. A team of analysts who had access to classified documents wrote and completed it in January 1969.
The study revealed a considerable degree of miscalculation, bureaucratic arrogance and deception on the part of U.S. policymakers. In particular, it found that the U.S. government had continually resisted full disclosure of increasing military involvement in Southeast Asia air strikes over Laos, and raids along the coast of North Vietnam.
It showed offensive actions by U.S. Marines had taken place long before the American public was informed. On June 13, 1971, The New York Times began publishing a series of articles based on the study. The Justice Department obtained a court injunction against further publication on national security grounds, but the Supreme Court ruled that constitutional guarantees of a free press overrode other considerations and allowed further publication.
In 1971, the government indicted Daniel Ellsberg, a former government employee who made the Pentagon Papers available to The New York Times, along with Anthony J. Russo on charges of espionage, theft and conspiracy. On May 11, 1973, a federal court judge dismissed all charges against them because of improper government conduct.
Considered a high water mark for American investigative journalism, ongoing coverage starting with a suspicious burglary of the Democratic Parties headquarters in the Watergate hotel and business complex led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
Mark Felt, the second in command at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, anonymously fed information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post about the Nixon administration's involvement in the burglary.
Following Nixon's resignation, Gerald Ford became the first U.S. president to rise to the office without being elected to the vice presidency. Initially popular, Ford would lose the good will of the public when he pardoned Nixon. Jimmy Carter would win the presidency in 1976.
Gonzo journalism is, in essence, an extension of "The New Journalism" championed by Tom Wolfe and George Plimpton during the 1960s. The best work in the genre is characterized by adding novelistic twist to reportage with usual standards of accuracy subjugated to catching the mood of a place or event.
In Hunter S. Thompson's work there is usually a distorted viewpoint brought on by the author's consumption of drugs and alcohol, usually recorded in the article for posterity. As such, much of his output -- including the seminal Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas --must be regarded as fiction rather than journalism.
A cultural change in the U.S. was reflected in the new manner in which media institutions reported on government officials. New and younger idealistic publishers took over many of the nation's most prominent newspapers; and their reporters, likewise idealistic, challenged authority within the newsroom and public officials with equal vigor. In 1968, Agnew publicly challenged the "hard-line" some journalists took. In the wake of the Watergate scandal, the American public was left with suspicion of motives for both the government and media.
Following Watergate, thousands of Baby Boomers swelled enrollment in U.S. journalism college programs, creating a generation of journalists that would no be displaced until the rise of the Internet in the 21st century.
Because of a rising mistrust of the media from both the political left and right, many major journalistic organizations and many individual news organizations established codes and standards. These rules were put into place to limit the involvement of their journalists in activities thought to "embarrass their organizations."