Radio host Don Imus makes offensive remarks about Rutgers’ women’s basketball team

Year
2007
Month Day
April 04

On April 4, 2007, syndicated talk radio host Don Imus ignites a firestorm after making racially disparaging remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team, insulting their appearance and tattoos and, most infamously, calling them “nappy-headed hos.” After a nationwide torrent of criticism, Imus apologized and lost his job but ultimately salvaged his career.

The remarks came during a discussion between Imus, his producer, and a reporter about a game between Rutgers and the University of Tennessee. Activists and journalists began to call for Imus to be fired almost immediately. Imus apologized on his show two days later, calling himself “a good man who did a bad thing,” but numerous sponsors, including General Motors, Staples, and other major companies, pulled their advertising. The Rev. Al Sharpton called for Imus to be “taken off the airwaves,” and Barack Obama, who would become the nation’s first African American president the following January, called Imus’ remarks “divisive, hurtful, and offensive.” MSNBC, which simulcast Imus in the Morning on television, dropped the show on April 11. The following morning, Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson met with Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, who announced the cancellation of Imus in the Morning that afternoon.

Imus’ defenders—as well as Imus himself—pointed to the frequent use of words like “ho” in rap music as the source of the problem, arguing that Imus was merely using offensive language that was commonplace in the world of hip-hop. Though many commentators decried what they felt was an over-reaction that ruined Imus’ career, Imus was in fact only off the air from April until December. He signed a five-year deal worth $40 million with New York station WABC and returned to the air on December 3. Two years later, Imus in the Morning returned to television, simulcast on Fox Business News. Imus’ career survived the incident, and he retired due to health reasons in 2018.

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Nancy Pelosi becomes first female Speaker of the House


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Year
2007
Month Day
January 04

On January 4, 2007, John Boehner handed the speaker of the House gavel over to Nancy Pelosi, a Democratic Representative from California. With the passing of the gavel, she became the first woman to hold the Speaker of the House position, as well as the only woman to get that close the presidency. After the Vice President, she was now second in line via the presidential order of succession. Pelosi became Speaker again in 2018. 

“It is an historic moment for the Congress, and a historic moment for the women of this country. It is a moment for which we have waited over 200 years,” Pelosi said after receiving the gavel. “For our daughters and granddaughters, today we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters, the sky is the limit, anything is possible for them.”

Pelosi’s Congressional career began 20 years before, when she was one of only 25 women who served in both the House and the Senate. She became the Democratic whip in 2001 and served as the minority leader between 2003 and her election as speaker in 2007. In 2002, she was one of the House members to vote against President George W. Bush’s request to use military force in Iraq.

During her first two terms as Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011, she developed a reputation as a tireless fundraiser and a successful securer of votes within her caucus. Her terms as speaker also coincided with Barack Obama’s first presidential term, and Pelosi was instrumental on organizing House votes for the Affordable Care Act.

During the 2010 midterms, the National Republican Congressional Committee cited her in 70 percent of its ads. The Democrats lost their House majority that election and Pelosi returned to her position as minority leader. After Democrats reclaimed the House in the 2018 midterms, she received her party’s nomination to be its official candidate for Speaker of the House. In 2019, as Speaker, Pelosi oversaw the impeachment of President Donald Trump. 

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Steve Jobs debuts the iPhone


Year
2007
Month Day
January 09

On January 9, 2007, Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs unveils the iPhone—a touchscreen mobile phone with an iPod, camera and Web-browsing capabilities, among other features—at the Macworld convention in San Francisco. Jobs, dressed in his customary jeans and black mock turtleneck, called the iPhone a “revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” When it went on sale in the United States six months later, on June 29, amidst huge hype, thousands of customers lined up at Apple stores across the country to be among the first to purchase an iPhone.

In November 2007—by which point more than 1.4 million iPhones had been sold—Time magazine named the sleek, 4.8-ounce device, originally available in a 4GB, $499 model and an 8GB, $599 model, its invention of the year. The iPhone went on sale in parts of Europe in late 2007, and in parts of Asia in 2008. In July 2008, Apple launched its online App Store, enabling people to download software applications that let them use their iPhones for games, social networking, travel planning and an every growing laundry list of other activities. Apple went on to over 10 updated models of the iPhone.

READ MORE: Steve Jobs Envisioned the iPhone as Mostly a Phone

The iPhone helped turned Apple, which Jobs (1955-2011) co-founded with his friend Stephen Wozniak in California in 1976, into one of the planet’s most valuable corporations. In 2012, five years after the iPhone’s debut, more than 200 million had been sold. The iPhone joined a list of innovative Apple products, including the Macintosh (launched in 1984, it was one of the first personal computers to feature a graphical user interface, which allowed people to navigate by pointing and clicking a mouse rather than typing commands) and the iPod portable music player (launched in 2001), that became part of everyday modern life.

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Virginia Tech shooting leaves 32 dead

On April 16, 2007, 32 people died after being gunned down on the campus of Virginia Tech by Seung-Hui Cho, a student at the college who later died by suicide.

The Virginia Tech shooting began around 7:15 a.m., when Cho, a 23-year-old senior and English major at Blacksburg-based Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, shot a female freshman and a male resident assistant in a campus dormitory before fleeing the building.

Police were soon on the scene; unaware of the gunman’s identity, they initially pursued the female victim’s boyfriend as a suspect in what they believed to be an isolated domestic-violence incident.

However, at around 9:40 a.m., Cho, armed with a 9-millimeter handgun, a 22-caliber handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, entered a classroom building, chained and locked several main doors and went from room to room shooting people. Approximately 10 minutes after the rampage began, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The attack left 32 people dead and more than a dozen wounded. In all, 27 students and five faculty members died in the massacre.

Two days later, on April 18, NBC News received a package of materials from Cho with a timestamp indicating he had mailed it from a Virginia post office between the first and second shooting attacks. Contained in the package were photos of a gun-wielding Cho, along with a rambling video diatribe in which he ranted about wealthy “brats,” among other topics.

In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shooting, authorities found no evidence that Cho, who was born in South Korea and moved to America with his family in 1992, had specifically targeted any of his victims. The public soon learned that Cho, described by students as a loner who rarely spoke to anyone, had a history of mental-health problems.

It was also revealed that angry, violent writings Cho made for certain class assignments had raised concern among some of his professors and fellow students well before the events of April 16. In 2011, Virginia Tech was fined by the U.S. Department of Education for failing to issue a prompt campus-wide warning after Cho shot his first two victims.

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Three-year-old Madeleine McCann goes missing in Portugal

Year
2007
Month Day
May 03

On May 3, 2007, less than two weeks before her fourth birthday, Madeleine McCann of Rothley, England, vanishes during a family vacation at a resort in southern Portugal. McCann’s disappearance prompted an international search; however, she has never been found.

In May 2007, the McCann family—parents Gerry and Kate McCann, Madeleine and her 2-year-old twin siblings Sean and Amelie—were vacationing with a group of friends at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz (“Beach of Light”), a tourist village along Portugal’s Algarve coast. On the evening of May 3, Gerry and Kate McCann went with friends to the Ocean Club’s tapas bar, leaving a sleeping Madeleine and her brother and sister in the family’s ground-floor apartment, located near the tapas bar. The McCanns and their friends agreed to check on the children every half hour. At around 10 p.m., Kate McCann went to the apartment and discovered Madeleine was missing.

Portuguese police initially believed the little girl had wandered off and would be quickly found. As a result, they failed to promptly distribute a description of the missing child or search cars crossing the Portugal-Spain border, less than two hours from Praia da Luz.

McCann’s disappearance generated widespread media coverage in Europe and beyond. English soccer star David Beckham made a televised plea for her safe return, and “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling reportedly donated millions to help find the little girl. Gerry and Kate McCann, observant Catholics, also had an audience in Rome with Pope Benedict, who blessed a photo of Madeleine.

On September 7, 2007, Portuguese officials named Gerry and Kate McCann, both of whom are physicians, as suspects in their daughter’s disappearance. Soon after, authorities leaked word that Madeleine’s DNA had been discovered in the trunk of the car her parents rented in Portugal almost a month after she vanished. There was speculation that the McCanns, in order to enjoy an evening out, had given their children sedatives and that Madeleine had a fatal reaction to the dosage she received. Afterward, the McCanns faked her abduction and hid her body for weeks before transferring it to the trunk of their rental car. Gerry and Kate McCann labeled this theory ridiculous, particularly given the fact that they were under intense media scrutiny and constantly followed by reporters. The local Portuguese police chief later admitted that the DNA tests were inconclusive.

In July 2008, Gerry and Kate McCann were formally cleared by Portuguese officials of any involvement in their daughter’s disappearance. A third person who had been considered the case’s only other formal suspect, a British man living in Portugal, was cleared as well. Additionally, Portugal’s attorney general said there was insufficient evidence for police to continue their investigation.

The McCanns hired private detectives to keep looking for their daughter and have made publicity tours throughout Europe and the U.S. to raise awareness about her plight. 

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Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto assassinated


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Year
2007
Month Day
December 27

On December 27, 2007, Benazir Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister and the first democratically elected female leader of a Muslim country, is assassinated at age 54 in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi. A polarizing figure at home and abroad, Bhutto had spent three decades struggling to stay afloat in the murky waters of Pakistani politics. To many of her supporters, she represented the strongest hope for democratic and egalitarian leadership in a country unhinged by political corruption and Islamic extremism.

Born in 1953 to a wealthy landowning family, Bhutto grew up in the privileged world of Pakistan’s political elite, receiving degrees from Harvard and Oxford. Her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founded the populist-leaning Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in 1967. He then served as president and prime minister from 1971 to 1977, when he was ousted in a bloodless military coup led by General Mohammad Zia ul-Haq and charged with authorizing a political opponent’s murder.

Her father’s overthrow and subsequent execution in April 1979 thrust a young Benazir Bhutto into the political spotlight. She and her mother, Nusrat, whom she succeeded in 1982 as the PPP’s chairperson, spent several years in and out of detention for protesting his arrest and campaigning against General Zia. In August 1988, Zia died in a plane crash; three months later, Bhutto won the general election and formed a government, becoming the first woman—and, at 35, the youngest person—to head a Muslim state in modern times. Dismissed in 1990 after less than half a term as prime minister, she was reelected in 1993 and served again until 1996. Both times, she was removed from office by the sitting president—Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1990 and Farooq Leghari in 1996—amid charges of corruption and incompetent governance.

After her second dismissal from office, Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, faced allegations of various forms of financial misconduct, including accepting multimillion-dollar kickbacks and laundering money through Swiss banks. Zardari spent eight years in prison, while Bhutto lived in exile in London and Dubai with the couple’s three children. In 2007, under pressure from Bhutto’s supporters within the U.S. government, President Pervez Musharraf granted amnesty to Bhutto, Zardari and other Pakistani politicians with pending graft charges. On October 18 of that year, despite a spate of death threats from Islamic militants, Bhutto returned to Pakistan with plans to participate in the 2008 general election. On the day of her arrival, she narrowly escaped a suicide bomb attack on her convoy that killed at least 136 people and injured more than 450.

On December 27, 2007, as Bhutto was waving to a crowd at a PPP rally in Rawalpindi, a gunman opened fire on her bulletproof vehicle. A bomb then exploded near the car, killing more than 20 people and wounding 100 others, including Bhutto. She was pronounced dead later that night and buried the next day in her hometown of Gardi Khuda Bakhsh, next to her father’s grave. The exact cause of her death remains in dispute: A subsequent investigation by Britain’s Scotland Yard ruled that Bhutto died of head injuries caused by the force of the explosion, while the PPP maintained that she died from gunshot wounds.

Bhutto’s death sparked widespread violence across Pakistan, with riots and demonstrations leading to violent police crackdowns. The political turmoil caused international fears of instability in a nuclear-armed nation already embroiled in a fight against Islamic extremists. In the weeks and months following Bhutto’s death, Pakistani moderates and Western leaders waited anxiously to see who would emerge as her successor. Zardari, who had taken the helm of the PPP after his wife’s assassination, was elected president of Pakistan in September 2008.

In the month following Bhutto’s murder, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistani officials named Baitullah Mehsud, a Pakistani militant with links to al-Qaeda, as the mastermind behind the assassination. Mehsud, who denied the charge, was killed in a U.S. drone attack in August 2009.

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“The Simpsons” airs 400th episode

Year
2007
Month Day
May 20

On May 20, 2007, Fox’s long-running animated series The Simpsons airs its 400th episode.

The Simpsons was created by Matt Groenig, whose comic strip Life Is Hell caught the attention of the Hollywood producer James L. Brooks. Brooks enlisted Groenig to create a cartoon short that would run during the Fox sketch comedy series The Tracey Ullmann Show. Two of the show’s regulars, Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner, provided the voices for Homer and Marge Simpson, while Nancy Cartwright (who had originally auditioned for the role of their daughter, Lisa) landed the role of their troublemaking adolescent son, Bart. Lisa (voiced by Yeardley Smith) rounded out the speaking parts for the dysfunctional Simpson family, who made their debut on The Tracey Ullmann Show in April 1987. Brooks later convinced Barry Diller, Fox’s then-chief executive, to turn the shorts into a half-hour weekly series, to be developed by Brooks, Groenig and Sam Simon. The Simpsons debuted on Fox in December 1989 with a special Christmas episode, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.”

The first animated prime-time sitcom since The Flinstones in the 1960s, The Simpsons burst onto the scene during a period when most of the successful comedy series on television were family-friendly offerings such as The Cosby Show, Full House, Growing Pains and Family Matters. Offbeat and dysfunctional, The Simpsons offered a far different view of family life. Critics raved about the show and its edgy, pop-culture savvy humor from the beginning, and it became a huge ratings hit.

In 2005, The Simpsons became the longest-running sitcom ever, passing The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which ran for 14 seasons (1952-66). Over the years, the series racked up dozens of Emmy Awards, and was named by TIME magazine as the best show of all time in 1999 and as No. 1 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of New Classic TV Shows in 2008. Its incredible success paved the way for other adult-oriented animated series, notably Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, The Family Guy and South Park

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News Corp and NBC announce new internet venture


Year
2007
Month Day
March 22

In a long-anticipated challenge to sites like YouTube, two entertainment giants–News Corporation and NBC Universal–announce a high-stakes internet venture on March 22, 2007.

According to the terms of the deal, News Corporation, owned by the Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., would begin distributing their own programming on popular Web sites such as America Online (AOL), Yahoo, MySpace and MSN. News Corp. and NBC also planned to make video of TV shows and movies available on a separate web site. The site would be supported by advertisers and free to viewers, who could edit the available content and post their own, as well as buy downloads of movies made by 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios.

By allowing users to upload and view streaming video, YouTube–which was bought by Google Inc. in 2006 for $1.65 billion–entered into a tense relationship with media companies, who became angry when copyrighted material such as television shows, film clips and music videos turned up on the site without their permission. In the face of YouTube’s enormous success, TV networks were forced to adjust their traditional formula to embrace the rise of new-media technologies. In one particularly notable example in 2006, a YouTube user uploaded “Lazy Sunday,” a clip from NBC’s sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, that quickly became a sensation online. Initially angry at the copyright infringement, NBC soon realized the potential of the site to drum up awareness of their programming, and soon agreed to add more of its clips to the YouTube library.

The NBC-News Corp. deal in March 2007 represented a larger-scale attempt by the two media companies to exert greater control over the distribution of their video material online. The result of the deal was the online video site Hulu, launched to a selected group of users in the fall of 2007 and to the general public in the spring of 2008.

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First McDonald’s drive-through opens in Beijing


Year
2007
Month Day
January 19

On January 19, 2007, Beijing, China, the capital city of the planet’s most populous nation, gets its first drive-through McDonald’s restaurant. The opening ceremony for the new two-story fast-food eatery, located next to a gas station, included traditional Chinese lion dancers and a Chinese Ronald McDonald. According to a report from The Associated Press at the time of the Beijing drive-through’s debut: “China’s double-digit economic growth has created a burgeoning market for cars, fast food and other consumer goods. The country overtook Japan last year to become the world’s second-biggest vehicle market after the U.S., with 7.2 million cars sold, a 37 percent growth.”

READ MORE: How McDonald’s Beat Its Early Competition and Became an Icon of Fast Food

Fast-food chains from foreign countries first came to China in 1987, with the opening of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. The home of the Big Mac and Happy Meal arrived in China three years later. In 2005, McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food chain, launched its first drive-through restaurant in China, in the city of Shenzhen in Guangdong province, near Hong Kong. The Beijing drive-through was McDonald’s 16th Chinese drive-through. In September 2008, Chinadaily.com reported that other than America, “China is the No. 1 growth market for McDonald’s, with 960 restaurants and over 60,000 employees.”

McDonald’s opened its first drive-through in the U.S. in 1975. Before there were drive-throughs there were drive-in restaurants, where customers would place their orders at curbside speakers. Servers known as carhops, who often wore rollerskates, then would bring food orders directly to customers’ cars. Standard drive-in fare included hamburgers, hotdogs, root beer and milkshakes. Drive-ins reached the height of their popularity in the 1950s.

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