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A Woman’s Touch

Television still was very much a boy’s club at the dawn of the 1970s. Network and local TV executives were virtually all male. Three-quarters of the characters on prime time dramas were men. And males held more than 85 percent of on-air news jobs.

Frankly, the guys calling the shots had trouble figuring out what to do with women: NBC censors ruled that I Dream of Jeannie star Barbara Eden’s midriff costume could never reveal her navel; CBS executives insisted that newswoman Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show could not be divorced; and at least thirty TV stations dropped the sitcom Maude when its lead character had an abortion.

Nor did TV news tend to tackle serious subjects that were considered “women’s ...

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