History Book


NICK EICHER, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book. Today, a legendary sportscaster retires after 30 years on the air.

Plus, two decades ago, the House of Representatives impeaches President Bill Clinton.

MARY REICHARD: But first, 100 years ago today, a labor uprising that eventually brings self-government to Northern Australia. Here’s Paul Butler.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin today with December 17th, 19-18. In the town of Darwin, Australia, 1-thousand demonstrators—or two-thirds of the town’s population—march on the Government House. The unrest becomes known as the Darwin Rebellion.

Pressures in Australia’s Northern Territory had been building for decades. The region was granted limited self-government in the 1860’s. But in 1911, the sparsely populated region was separated from the Southern Territory and placed directly under Commonwealth government control. The government appointed John Gilruth governor, but he answered to none of the residents.

At the conclusion of World War I in 1918,  most Northern Territory workers were given time off to celebrate. But Gilruth prohibited hotel employees from doing the same. When they disobeyed, he suspended them indefinitely.

The Australians Workers Union organized the December 17th protest to demand government representation and force the governor to resign. Fearing for his life, Gilruth eventually stepped down and fled.

Though it took nearly 25 more years before the Australian Commonwealth granted the Northern Territory representation and self-governing rights, but the Darwin Rebellion played a key role in making it happen.

MUSIC: [The Seekers — I Am Australian]

Next, December 20th, 1985. Sportscaster Howard Cosell retires from television. He later tells Joe Rocco:

COSELL: Life’s been good to me and I was very happy about calling it quits…

Cosell graduated from law school and served in the military before becoming a radio broadcaster in 19-53. He moved to television in 1961, later joining ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

COSELL: Muhammad Ali against Cleveland Williams. Champ, there you are…

AUDIO: [ABC Monday Night Football theme]

In 1970, when ABC began primetime coverage of Monday Night Football, it tapped Cosell for commentary.

COSELL: It is cold. It is a night when the New England Patriots must win…

The broadcast soon became the No.1-rated show in its time slot. One of his most memorable NFL broadcast moments occurred December 8th, 1980:

COSELL: An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC news in New York City. John Lennon shot twice in the back. Rushed to Roosevelt Hospital. Dead on arrival.

In 1993, TV Guide named Howard Cosell as their All-Time Best Sportscaster.

And finally, December 19th, 1998, 20 years ago this week: the final day of House debate on four articles of impeachment. House Minority Whip David Bonior:

BONIOR: This house is out of touch…they have just denied us the chance to vote in the one option that commands the support of the American people, and that is censure…

House Judiciary Committee Chairman and Illinois Representative Henry Hyde was undeterred:

HYDE: We have a problem. Now you recognize the problem because you want to censure him—that is impeachment lite.

A little after 1 p.m., debate concludes and voting begins:

AUDIO: On this vote, the yays are 228, and the nays are 206. Article 1 is adopted…

In the end, two articles of impeachment pass, two do not. Clinton is convicted of lying under oath about his relationship with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, and for obstructing the investigation. Democrats complain the issue is unrelated to the original reason for the investigation—the Whitewater land deal.

It’s only the second time in U.S. history that the House of Representatives impeaches a sitting president. After the vote, House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, flanked by his Democrat colleagues, speaks to the press outside the Capitol.

GEPHARDT: We are deeply offended by this process, it was partisan and unfair.

A month later, Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist presides over the Senate trial.

REHNQUIST: The Senate will convene as a court of impeachment…

Senators acquit Clinton on 45-55 and 50-50 votes along party lines. They fall far short of the two-thirds majority necessary to remove Clinton from office.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.


(Photo/Joe Caneva, Associated Press) Muhammad Ali toys with the finely combed hair of television sports commentator Howard Cosell before the start of the Olympic boxing trials on August 7, 1972.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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