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The Split (1860) | Conventional Wisdom

Some issues are too fundamental for a party to withstand, and the consequences can last for a generation.

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Law & Society
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The Mommy Wars
The Mommy Wars: Billed as the nastiest fight in American parenting, and fueled by a decades-old blunder. This story was produced in collaboration with Quartz. Watch Now
Law & Society
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The Outrage Machine
Internet shaming -- what happens when the cybermob comes for you. Watch Now
Health
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Atomic Vets
The story of the veterans who witnessed secret atomic testing and how their decades-long struggle for recognition affects soldiers today. This story is a coproduction with our friends at Reveal, from The Center for Investigative Reporting. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for The Long, Strange Trip of LSD
The Long, Strange Trip of LSD
In the 1960s, mind-altering drugs like LSD helped fuel the counter-culture. Today, psychedelics are turning on a new generation – of scientists. Watch Now
Law & Society
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Welfare and the Politics of Poverty
Bill Clinton's 1996 welfare reform was supposed to move needy families off government handouts and onto a path out of poverty. Twenty years later, how has it turned out? Watch Now
Entertainment
image for D&D: Lessons from a Media Panic
D&D: Lessons from a Media Panic
Dungeons and Dragons was once accused of leading children to Satanism, but today the game looks more like a solution to a problem plaguing modern parenting. Watch Now
Science & Technology
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Nuclear Winter
Carl Sagan and other Cold War scientists once feared that a nuclear war could plunge the world into a deadly ice age. Three decades later, does this theory still resonate? Watch Now
Health
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A Change of Heart
The artificial heart became a media sensation in the 1980s as it both raised hopes and spread controversy. Today its impact on medical science is still playing out in surprising ways. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for The Terminator and the Washing Machine
The Terminator and the Washing Machine
What the legendary match between a supercomputer and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov reveals about today's artificial intelligence panic. Watch Now
Law & Society
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After Bush v. Gore
The dramatic controversy surrounding the 2000 presidential election led to sweeping voting reforms, but opened the door to a new set of problems that continue to impact elections today. Watch Now
Science & Technology
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Runaway Plane
For decades the United States has been on a quest to perfect stealth technology, but development of the F-35 fighter jet shows just how complicated dreams can become. Watch Now
Health
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Fighting Fat
Thirty-five years after the first dietary guidelines, how much do we really know about the science behind a healthy diet? Watch Now
Health
image for The Boy in the Bubble
The Boy in the Bubble
In the early 1970s, an unusual boy captivated the nation. Now, decades later, his story continues to unfold in remarkable ways. Watch Now
Crime
image for Heroin and the War on Drugs
Heroin and the War on Drugs
In the 1970s, frustration over heroin related, urban crime led to the War on Drugs. Today, heroin is back. But the users, and the response, are very different. Watch Now
Sports
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Blood and Sport
In 1982, boxing fans tuned in for a fight the sport wouldn't soon forget. Today, with concerns about the toll of football on the rise, is America’s favorite game nearing its own inflection point? Watch Now
Entertainment
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Sex, Drugs and Gore
Offended by lyrics they deemed too sexual and violent, Tipper Gore and Susan Baker campaigned to put warning labels on albums in 1985. Years later, warning labels have ended up in some unexpected places. Watch Now
Law & Society
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Where is my Grandchild?
Estela de Carlotto has spent nearly four decades searching for her grandson, one of the estimated 500 babies who disappeared after their mothers were taken by the military regime in Argentina in the 1970s. Watch Now
Crime
image for Haunted by Columbine
Haunted by Columbine
The killing of twelve students and a teacher at Columbine High School in 1999 continues to shape how we view and understand school shootings today. Watch Now
Crime
image for A Syndrome on Trial
A Syndrome on Trial
In 1997, a young British nanny charged with murder brought shaken baby syndrome into the national spotlight, and raised a scientific debate that continues to shape child abuse cases today. Watch Now
Sports
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Curt Flood: Rebel Without a Clause
When baseball star Curt Flood rejected a trade in 1969, he challenged America's pastime and helped spark a revolution that rippled beyond the game. This newly updated Retro Report documentary explores free agency in the age of LeBron James and DeAndre Jordan. Watch Now
Nature
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Pets Gone Wild
Burmese pythons, often released into the wild by well-meaning pet owners, have infested the Florida Everglades and created a reptilian nightmare in the ecosystem. Watch Now
Crime
image for SWAT: Mission Creep
SWAT: Mission Creep
SWAT teams were created in the 1960’s to combat violent events. Since then, the specialized teams have morphed into a force increasingly used in routine policing, most often to serve drug warrants,sometimes with disastrous results. Which raises the question -- are we too militarized? Watch Now
Entertainment
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Napster: Culture of FREE
In 1999, a file-sharing program created in a Boston dorm room sent shockwaves across the music industry and served notice that a major cultural shift was underway. Watch Now
Crime
image for From Crack Babies to Oxytots: Lessons Not Learned
From Crack Babies to Oxytots: Lessons Not Learned
In the 1980s, many government officials, scientists, and journalists warned that the country would be plagued by a generation of “crack babies.” They were wrong. More than 25 years later, the media is sounding a similar alarm. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for The Shadow of Waco
The Shadow of Waco
22 years ago, federal agents raided the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and generated a legacy that continues to shape antigovernment groups today. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for Transforming History
Transforming History
Transgender issues today are rooted in a decades-long struggle for inclusion. Watch Now
Law & Society
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The Population Bomb?
In the 1960s, fears of overpopulation sparked campaigns for population control. But whatever became of the population bomb? Watch Now
Health
image for Chasing Outbreaks: How Safe Is Our Food?
Chasing Outbreaks: How Safe Is Our Food?
A 1993 E. coli outbreak linked Jack in the Box hamburgers sickened 700 people and acted as a wake up call about the dangers of food-borne illness. More than 20 years later, how far have we come? Watch Now
Health
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Safety on Fire
There are over 80,000 chemicals in use today. The story of TRIS, removed from children's pajamas in the 1970s, illustrates just how hard it is to regulate chemicals, or to even know if they're safe.  Watch Now
Law & Society
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Anatomy of an Interrogation
The story of the first and only interrogator connected to the CIA to be convicted in a torture-related case. Watch Now
Health
image for A Right to Die?
A Right to Die?
Should doctors be allowed to help suffering patients die? Twenty-five years ago, with his homemade suicide machine, Dr. Jack Kevorkian raised that question. It's an issue Americans still struggle with today. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for The Ferry: A Civil Rights Story
The Ferry: A Civil Rights Story
Weeks before Selma's Bloody Sunday in 1965, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. urged residents of Gee's Bend, Ala., to vote, and fed a continuing fight over a small ferry that would last for decades. Watch Now
Health
image for Vaccines: An Unhealthy Skepticism
Vaccines: An Unhealthy Skepticism
An outbreak of measles that started at Disneyland turned a spotlight on those who choose not to vaccinate their children. How did we get to a point where personal beliefs can triumph over science? Watch Now
Health
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Power Line Fears
News media coverage in the 1980s and early 1990s fueled fears of a national cancer epidemic caused by power lines and generated a debate that still lingers today. Watch Now
Health
image for Sybil: A Brilliant Hysteric?
Sybil: A Brilliant Hysteric?
In the 1970s, the T.V. movie “Sybil” introduced much of the nation to multiple personality disorder and launched a controversy that continues to resonate. Watch Now
Entertainment
image for "A Dingo's Got My Baby:" Trial by Media
"A Dingo's Got My Baby:" Trial by Media
In 1982, an Australian mother was convicted of murdering her baby daughter. She was later exonerated, but soon fell victim to a joke that distracted the world from the real story. Watch Now
Crime
image for A Search for Justice
A Search for Justice
The murder of four American churchwomen focused attention on the United States' involvement in El Salvador. Nearly 35 years later, the case continues to take surprising turns. Watch Now
Nature
image for Wolves at the Door
Wolves at the Door
In the 1990s, the federal government reintroduced the gray wolf to Yellowstone National Park. It was considered a big success. And that’s when the real fight began. Watch Now
Crime
image for Ruby Ridge: American Standoff
Ruby Ridge: American Standoff
When armed suspects stand off against the law today, one event continues to cast a shadow on both sides of the police line: the 1992 siege at Ruby Ridge. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for The Cost of Campaigns
The Cost of Campaigns
The Watergate campaign finance scandals led to a landmark law designed to limit the influence of money in politics. Forty years later, some say the scandal isn’t what’s illegal, it’s what’s legal. Watch Now
Nature
image for The Mystery of the Missing Bees
The Mystery of the Missing Bees
The mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder has pushed honeybees into the public eye. But the story of their plight -- and its impact -- is much more complicated. Watch Now
Health
image for Revolution in a Capsule
Revolution in a Capsule
When Prozac was introduced in 1988, the green-and-cream pill to treat depression launched a cultural revolution that continues to echo. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for The Promise of the Air Bag
The Promise of the Air Bag
How did cars become “computers on wheels,” so automated that some are about to start driving themselves? The story begins forty-five years ago with a quest to make cars safer and the battle over the air bag. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for Go or no Go: The Challenger Legacy
Go or no Go: The Challenger Legacy
On January 28, 1986, seven astronauts "slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God." America’s space program was never the same. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for How DNA Changed the World of Forensics
How DNA Changed the World of Forensics
Before DNA testing, prosecutors relied on less sophisticated forensic techniques, including microscopic hair analysis, to put criminals behind bars. But how reliable was hair analysis? Watch Now
Health
image for Agent Orange: Last Chapter of the Vietnam War
Agent Orange: Last Chapter of the Vietnam War
The use of the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War continues to cast a dark shadow over both American veterans and Vietnamese citizens. Watch Now
Sports
image for Picking a Winner: The 1998 NFL Draft
Picking a Winner: The 1998 NFL Draft
After the 1998 NFL draft produced one of the greatest busts in history, what have we learned about the science of evaluating human talent – on and off the field? Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for Three Mile Island: Lessons from the Nuclear Dream
Three Mile Island: Lessons from the Nuclear Dream
More than three decades after the accident at Three Mile Island cast a shadow on the atomic dream, is America again ready to give nuclear energy a chance? Watch Now
Law & Society
image for The Enduring Legacy of Terri Schiavo
The Enduring Legacy of Terri Schiavo
The controversy over Terri Schiavo’s case elevated a family matter into a political battle that continues to frame end-of-life issues today. Watch Now
Nature
image for Shaky Ground
Shaky Ground
The 1989 earthquake that shook San Francisco sent out a wake up call that continues to echo across the country. Watch Now
Crime
image for The Superpredator Scare
The Superpredator Scare
In the mid-1990s, after a decade of soaring juvenile crime, some social scientists warned the violence would only get worse. Reality proved otherwise. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for The Shame of the Church
The Shame of the Church
Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been making headlines for years. Some priests have been punished, but what about the bishops who shielded them? Watch Now
Law & Society
image for Baby M and the Question of Surrogacy
Baby M and the Question of Surrogacy
The custody battle over Baby M was the first time a court considered surrogacy. Today's families are created in many different ways. But have we resolved the question of surrogacy? Watch Now
Nature
image for Fly Wars: Battling The Medfly
Fly Wars: Battling The Medfly
In the summer of 1981, the Mediterranean fruit fly spread through California’s Santa Clara Valley, infesting backyard fruit trees and threatening the state’s $14 billion agricultural industry. Watch Now
Crime
image for McMartin Preschool: Anatomy of a Panic
McMartin Preschool: Anatomy of a Panic
The nightmare began in 1983 when a 39-year-old mother called the police department in Manhattan Beach, California and accused a teacher at the McMartin Preschool, Raymond Buckey, of molesting her two and a half-year old son. Watch Now
Science & Technology
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When a Bridge Falls
At the height of rush hour on August 1, 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a bridge carrying eight lanes of I-35W over the Mississippi River suddenly collapsed, sending cars trucks plunging into the water below. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for Stealing J. Edgar Hoover's Secrets
Stealing J. Edgar Hoover's Secrets
On March 8, 1971, a group of eight Vietnam War protestors broke into a Federal Bureau of Investigation field office in Media, Pennsylvania and stole hundreds of government documents that shocked a nation. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for Exxon Valdez: In the Wake of Disaster
Exxon Valdez: In the Wake of Disaster
On a cold March night in 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Southern Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound and creating one of the worst oil spills in American history. Watch Now
Crime
image for Crime and Punishment: Three Strikes and You’re Out
Crime and Punishment: Three Strikes and You’re Out
After the 1993 murder of a California child, many states passed laws to lock up repeat offenders for life, but today those laws are raising new questions about how crime is handled in America. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for Love Canal: A Legacy of Doubt
Love Canal: A Legacy of Doubt
In 1978, toxic chemicals leaking from an old landfill thrust an upstate New York community called “Love Canal” into the national headlines, and made it synonymous with “environmental disaster.” Watch Now
Crime
image for The Sleeper Cell That Wasn't
The Sleeper Cell That Wasn't
Six days after 9/11, the FBI’s raid on a Detroit sleeper cell signaled America’s resolve to fight terrorism. But, despite a celebrated conviction, there was one problem — they’d gotten it wrong. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for The Day the Lights Went Out
The Day the Lights Went Out
In 2003, a blackout crippled areas of the U.S. and Canada, leaving some 50 million people in the dark. Ten years later, we are still grappling with concerns over the vulnerability of our power grid. Watch Now
Health
image for The Long War on Cancer
The Long War on Cancer
Forty-two years ago when President Richard Nixon vowed to make curing cancer a national crusade, many anticipated quick results. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for In the Shadow of Katrina
In the Shadow of Katrina
Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2005, and Louisiana’s troubled housing recovery has shaped the response to every major disaster since, including Hurricane Sandy. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for Taking the Lid Off the McDonald’s Coffee Case
Taking the Lid Off the McDonald’s Coffee Case
In 1992, Stella Liebeck spilled scalding McDonald's coffee in her lap and later sued the company, attracting a flood of negative attention. It turns out, there’s more to the story. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for Dolly the Sheep
Dolly the Sheep
In 1997, Scottish scientists announced they had cloned a sheep and named her Dolly, and sent waves of future shock around the world that continue to shape frontiers of science today. Watch Now
Crime
image for Richard Jewell: The Wrong Man
Richard Jewell: The Wrong Man
The 1996 Olympics in Atlanta were rocked by a bomb that killed one and injured more than 100. In the rush to find the perpetrator, one man became a target. There was only one problem. He was innocent. Watch Now
Health
image for Walter Reed: The Battle for Recovery
Walter Reed: The Battle for Recovery
In 2007, the scandalous treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center shocked the nation. Today, after major reforms, what’s changed for America’s injured soldiers? Watch Now
Health
image for The Shadow of Thalidomide
The Shadow of Thalidomide
In the 1950s, thalidomide cut a wide swath of destruction across the world, leaving behind thousands of deformed infants, but that was only the beginning of the story. Watch Now
Entertainment
image for Freeing Willy
Freeing Willy
In the wake of the 1993 hit movie Free Willy, activists and fans campaigned to release the movie’s star – a captive killer whale named Keiko -- and launched a story Hollywood couldn’t invent. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for The Battle For Busing
The Battle For Busing
A story of America's school integration and what happened when the buses stopped rolling. Watch Now
Nature
image for Summer of Fire
Summer of Fire
The lessons learned from the summer of 1988 when fires burned nearly one third of Yellowstone National Park continue to shape the way we fight wildfires raging across the West today. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for Test Tube Tomato
Test Tube Tomato
In the 1990s, a bunch of gene jockeys brought the first genetically engineered food to market. The business crashed but biotech science has flourished far beyond the produce aisle. Watch Now
Nature
image for Wild Horse Wars
Wild Horse Wars
The decades-long quest to save wild horses has run amok, creating a problem that even swooping helicopters, aging cowboys, camera-savvy activists, and millions of dollars can’t solve. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for Biosphere 2: An American Space Odyssey
Biosphere 2: An American Space Odyssey
With dreams of one day colonizing space, eight people sealed themselves inside a giant glass biosphere in the Arizona desert in 1991. By the time they emerged two years later, they had "suffocated, starved and went mad." Watch Now
Crime
image for The Tawana Brawley Story
The Tawana Brawley Story
In 1988, the nation learned the truth about the alleged crimes against Tawana Brawley, but the shocking story was far from over. Watch Now
Science & Technology
image for Y2K: Much Ado About Nothing?
Y2K: Much Ado About Nothing?
The Y2K bug threatened to wipe out computers and disrupt modern society at the end of the 20th century. We all remember the doomsday hype, but what really happened? Watch Now
Crime
image for The Legacy of Tailhook
The Legacy of Tailhook
Military sexual assault is not a new phenomenon. A second look at the Tailhook scandal in 1991 reveals what happened then. And what it all means now. Watch Now
Law & Society
image for Voyage of the Mobro 4000
Voyage of the Mobro 4000
The 1987 voyage of a barge loaded with New York garbage became a sensational fiasco, but it ended up fueling the modern recycling movement. Watch Now