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July 21, 1978 – Good news and odd news for this day. The good news was a tentative agreement had been struck between Union reps for the Postal Service and management, thus avoiding a strike, at least for now.
More good news – the economy was looking up, at least on paper. The White House reported the economy grew at an average of 11% in April, May and June; the best in a long time. The only iffy spot was the government, who were expecting better numbers than that and projections for the year were now being revised downward. Recovering from its sluggish performance during a severe winter and the crippling coal strike, the U.S. economy grew sharply during the second quarter, the most in over 2 years. But Commerce Department Analysts said inflation quickened at an annual rate of just over 10% during the same period. Hopes were that food price rises would moderate during the year, but afraid it wouldn’t be enough to solve the problem. On the brighter side, the Foreign Trade deficit improved greatly during the 2nd Quarter, contributing to economic growth.
And the odd news – Dr. Peter Bourne, Special Assistant to the President for Health Issues and Director of the Office of Drug Abuse Policy (ODAP), the predecessor of the current Office of National Drug Control Policy, resigned amid controversy that he had prescribed drugs to White House staffers, including one for Quaaludes which he allegedly wrote under a fictitious name. The incident and resulting scandal led many to raise questions as to what was going on over at Pennsylvania Avenue. Bourne was quoted in the New York Times as saying he believed there was a high incidence of marijuana use among members of the White House Staff. According to the story, Bourne did not attempt to discourage their use. Bourne was further said to have been aware of ‘occasional” use of Cocaine by staffers, but he would not identify them. Having said all that, the subject came up at the White House News Briefing earlier in the day and Press Secretary Jody Powell said he had no knowledge of anyone in the White House using Cocaine or marijuana. Other White House staffers made the same point. One Staffer who said, off the record, that recreational use of drugs was no higher or any different than by anyone else in the public. It was hoped the whole thing would quietly fade away.
And that’s a small slice of what went on, July 21, 1978 as reported by The World Tonight from CBS Radio.