Featured image for The Digital Bystander

The Digital Bystander

Live-streaming apps like Facebook Live and Periscope give us a voyeuristic peek into the lives of others. But what is our obligation when we encounter digital violence?
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Politics and Plagues

What do the CIA and Nigerian imams have to do with the fight to end polio? Retro Report examines how the worlds of politics and public health can collide.
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Conspiracy’s Grip

Retro Report explores decades of conspiracy theories – from the John F. Kennedy assassination to Pizzagate – and what they can tell us about how we view the world today.
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First, Do No Harm

From the 1930s to the 1950s a radical surgery – the Lobotomy – would forever change our understanding and treatment of the mentally ill.
Featured image for Lies, Leaks and Consequences

Lies, Leaks and Consequences

Taking a page from Nixon, President Trump is waging his own battle against leaks, which threatens to damage Americans’ right to know.
Featured image for Grilling Gorsuch: Why He Won’t Answer

Grilling Gorsuch: Why He Won’t Answer

As the country prepares for the confirmation hearings of Judge Neil Gorsuch, Retro Report explores how the bitter hearings over Judge Robert Bork changed how nominees answer questions.
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Trump and the Battle over Sanctuary

As deportations begin to rise under President Trump, churches and cities are declaring themselves sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. It’s the latest chapter of a movement with a long history.
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Forever Prison

Guantanamo Bay has become a symbol of the war on terror, but its story actually begins a decade before, when it was first used to detain thousands of Haitians outside the reach of U.S. law. This story was created in collaboration with NPR and PBS, FRONTLINE.
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Malaria and the Silent Spring

Author Rachel Carson’s strike against the pesticide DDT turned her into both an environmental hero and a foil for those who believe regulation has gone too far. That fight is more relevant than ever.
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Could You Patent the Sun?

Decades after Dr. Jonas Salk opposed patenting the polio vaccine, the pharmaceutical industry has changed.  What does that mean for the development of innovative drugs and for people whose lives depend on them?
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The Fight to Save the Amazon

In 1988, the murder of Chico Mendes fueled a movement of activists, celebrities and indigenous peoples that helped to make the rainforest a household name. But what happens now?
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Activating a Generation

Thirty years after “Live Aid” changed the face of charity fundraising, clicktivism has taken center stage. If you share, re-tweet and like, are you making the world a better place?
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Defusing War’s Perfect Soldiers

In 1997, Princess Diana brought public attention to land mine victims. But, almost two decades after her death, how much progress has been made in the worldwide fight against leftover munitions?
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Prop 13: Mad As Hell

In 1978, voters passed Proposition 13, lowering taxes for millions of California homeowners. Decades later, what has it meant for California?
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Unraveling Zero Tolerance

Over the last 30 years, schools across the country have enacted tough new discipline policies. Some of those schools say they went too far.
Featured image for The Great Debate: Style or Substance?

The Great Debate: Style or Substance?

The moments we remember from political debates are embedded in our political folklore, from the knockout lines to the losing gaffes. But does media coverage often miss the real lessons they offer?
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Where Does the American Dream Live?

How a little-known public housing program from the 1970s is changing housing policy today.
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“On Account of Sex”

When Phyllis Schlafly fought the Equal Rights Amendment, which called for equality of rights “on account of sex,” it kicked off a battle that continues to influence political debate today.
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The Mommy Wars

The Mommy Wars were billed as the nastiest fight in American parenting, and actually fueled by a decades-old blunder. This story was produced in collaboration with Quartz.
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The Outrage Machine

In the digital age, where everyday people can suddenly become public enemy number one, how do we strike the balance between keeping free speech alive online and preventing a cyber mob from taking over?
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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 Reveal, from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Featured 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.
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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?
Featured 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.
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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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
Featured 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.
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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?
Featured image for Sex, Drugs and Gore

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
Featured 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.
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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.
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Transforming History

Transgender issues today are rooted in a decades-long struggle for inclusion.
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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?
Featured 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?
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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.
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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.
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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.
Featured 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.
Featured 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.
Featured 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. Watch this Emmy-nominated backstory on how vaccinations became one of our country’s most contentious topics.
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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.
Featured image for Sybil: A Brilliant Hysteric?

Sybil: A Brilliant Hysteric?

In the 1970s, the TV movie “Sybil” introduced much of the nation to multiple personality disorder and launched a controversy that continues to resonate.
Featured 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.
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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.
Featured 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.
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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.
Featured 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.
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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.
Featured 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.
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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.
Featured 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.
Featured 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.
Featured 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?
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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.
Featured 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?
Featured 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?
Featured 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.
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Shaky Ground

The 1989 earthquake that shook San Francisco sent out a wake up call that continues to echo across the country.
Featured 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.
Featured 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?
Featured 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?
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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.
Featured 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.
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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.
Featured 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.
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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.
Featured 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.
Featured 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.”
Featured 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.
Featured 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.
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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.
Featured 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.
Featured 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.
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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.
Featured 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.
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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?
Featured 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.
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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.
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The Battle For Busing

A story of America’s school integration and what happened when the buses stopped rolling.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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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.