The day before the 1978 midterm elections, NBC journalist Jessica Savitch opened a TODAY Show report predicting that, “This year, the national women’s political movement is likely to suffer a setback.” Savitch was herself a pioneer for women in media, and one of the earliest female anchors of an evening newscast. Last week marked the 30-year anniversary of her tragic death in a car accident at the age of 35 (Jessica Savitch Remembered). On the long-form TODAY show piece, which aired almost exactly thirty-five years ago on November 6, 1978, Savitch profiled some of the women running for public office in the ’78 elections, and the difficulties they saw on the road to a seat in the House of Representatives or the Senate. Savitch told TODAY anchor Tom Brokaw that Election Day would see a loss of two to five seats for women in the next Congress – a prediction that proved correct, as the 1978 elections reduced the number of women in Congress from 20 to 17. But there were some notes of progress in Savitch’s report, including one of the female politicians she interviewed, Republican Nancy Kassebaum, who won her election the following day, and would go on to serve as the Senator from Kansas for many years. And Savitch ended her TODAY show report with a characteristically feisty signoff about the perceived abilities of men and women in politics, which you can watch in the clip from November 6, 1978 below, courtesy of NBC News Archives. And check out more exclusive videos from NBC News Archives.
Stay tuned for more NBC Politics weekly trivia from Betsy Fischer Martin (@BetsyNBC), Managing Editor of Political Programming.