In the 1970s we had Watergate. In the 1990s the Monica Lewinsky Scandal stole the headlines. So what was the 1980s’ big public scandal? Here’s a hint: it came to a head in 1987.
In the News
The Iran-Contra affair heats up as Oliver North, Jr., and Admiral John M. Poindexter–among several others–become key figures during the series of hearings and public debates that lead up to President Reagan’s admission of the whole scandal involving the clandestine exchange of weapons to Iran and the use of profits from the arms sale to support Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Other events in 1987 include the Senate’s 58-42 rejection of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, Margaret Thatcher winning a third term as Prime Minister in Great Britain, a sharp October downturn on the U.S. stock market, and the rescue of toddler Jessica McClure from a well in Midland, Texas.
Movies, Music, and Television–Oh My!
Moonstruck, Wall Street, and Dirty Dancing all performed well in the theaters, and Fatal Attraction did a great job of drawing a large movie-going audience–and scaring many spouses. “Livin’ On A Prayer” (Bon Jovi), “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” (Starship), “With Or Without You” (U2), “Bad” (Michael Jackson), “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life” (Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes), and “At This Moment” (Billy Vera & The Beaters) were top songs on the radio. NBC ruled the primetime television roost in 1987 with such series as ALF, L.A. Law, Matlock, Cheers, Amen, 227, A Different World, Night Court, Family Ties, and The Cosby Show. Popular, non-NBC shows included Murder, She Wrote; Growing Pains;thirtysomething; and Who’s The Boss?
The New York Giants clobbered the Denver Broncos 39-20 at the Super Bowl, the Minnesota Twins defeated the St. Louis Cardinals at the World Series (4-3), the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Championships against the Boston Celtics (4-2), and the Stanley Cup again went to the Edmonton Oilers when they overcame the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3.
Other Interesting Tidbits
The median household income rose to $26,061 and the unemployment rate fell to 6.2%. Meanwhile, two big medications make waves in the drug industry as Prozac is released in the United States and the AIDS treatment AZT is given the green light by the FDA. CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) are to, by the year 2000, be reduced by 50 percent according to the Montreal Protocol.
End of the Year
Looking back at 1987, one can see how the Iran-Contra debacle would wind up being one of the top stories of the decade. Meanwhile, the October plummet on the stock market shook the nerves of many investors (and the rest of the public) in such a way that had not been experienced since the Crash of 1929. Furthermore cable news made big stride in its covering developing news stories as CNN aired updates and footage from the 58-hour rescue of Jessica McClure. What is more, in retrospect, 1987’s Montreal Protocol was perhaps one of the most significant pieces of multi-national agreement on environmental issues to date. What other news was to come along in the decade? Continue reading The 1980s.
Information Please. “1987.” 23 August 2007.
McNeil, Alex. Total Television. 4th ed. New York: Penguin, 1996.
The National Security Archive. “The Iran-Contra Scandal 20 Years On.” 24 November 2006. 23 August 2007.
Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits. 7th ed. New York: Watson-Guptill, 2000.