January 16,1980 – a day with far-reaching consequences that, at the time, seemed like footnotes as other news took precedence.
The day began with the crisis over the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the upcoming Olympic Games in Moscow. The White House was searching for a diplomatic solution to the problem. Amid calls for a withdrawal of Russian forces by a February deadline, there were fears the Russians wouldn’t comply and the U.S. would be faced with a number of less-than-ideal consequence, including one which called for no U.S. participation in the Moscow Summer games. On this day there was no answer, only guesses.
In other news: The situation in Iran was continuing and the crisis was deepening. This was the next-to-last day for U.S. journalists and news organizations to be in Tehran before their expulsion. With the American Hostages held in Tehran entering their 74th day of captivity. There was further news that the Iranian Oil Minister was threatening any nation supporting the U.S. embargo on oil with a cut-off of their own oil supplies, although exports of oil products had dropped off by as much as half in recent days. Also, news of the uncovering of a military coup being brought on by Anti-Khomeni forces in the Army. The discovery brought swift reprisals and mass executions were ordered for the accused.
Meanwhile, news of the increasingly failing health an mounting anxiety over Yugoslavia’s leading light Josip Broz Tito. The reports posed concern, but not a real awareness of the eventual reality about to take place. Tito was the glue that held this region together since World War 2. The region, consisting of several formerly independent countries as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire became united under the umbrella of the post-World War 1 Kingdom of Yugoslavia. It was Tito who held these countries together, despite religious differences and centuries-old disputes. Creating at least the appearances of harmony for generations. It wasn’t entirely clear how Yugoslavia would react at Tito’s eventual death – but several observers feared there were dark and uncertain days ahead.
And there was news today of the trial of Elvis Presley’s Doctor, on charges of over-prescribing drugs to the singer. Dr. George Nichopoulos was accused to prescribing huge amounts of uppers, downers and pain killers. Nichopoulos claimed he was trying to mix the real drugs with placebos in an attempt to curb Presley’s addiction, but with limited success. In addition, the drugs were also given to band members while on tour which included as many as 100 people.
And that’s a small slice of what happened, this January 16, 1980 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup and CBS Hourly News.