"Four Shot Dead, Nine Wounded." This was the headline on May 4, 1970 in Kent, Ohio, when National Guardsmen turned and fired more than 60 bullets at demonstrators against the Vietnam War at Kent State University. In just 13 seconds, four students were killed. Veteran May 4th journalist, Robert Giles, editor who directed The Akron Beacon Journal's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage, joined Ian Punnett (Twitter) to present an unforgettable, first-person account of what took place on the Kent State campus and in his newsroom during that fateful time.
Giles reported on events which led up to that fateful day at Kent State. University students had buried a copy of the U.S. Constitution on Friday, May 1, 1970, in response to President Nixon sending troops into Cambodia as an expansion of the Vietnam War. They were really questioning if Nixon had the power to do that, Giles explained. Some student protesters set fire to the old ROTC building, he added.
There had been a number of demonstrations on the Kent State campus over the years, Giles continued. During this incendiary time, Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes had issued an edict prohibiting the gathering of students. The students were prepared to defy the governor, Giles noted. The Ohio National Guard was called in as they were nearby in Akron, Ohio.
When the National Guard arrived, the students shifted their focus from the war itself to a protest against the presence of National Guardsman on their campus, Giles recalled. "We didn't anticipate there would be any shootings... we didn't even believe the National Guard had live ammunition in their M1 riffles," he said. Giles revealed he had sent one reporter and two photographers to campus to cover the protests. "We had some courageous people on the campus then who were able to get us an accurate and truthful description of what had happened," he disclosed.
In the first hour, writer Bethan Jones discussed her book, The Truth Is Still Out There, which examines the social, cultural, and technological impact of The X-Files television series. Running through the paranormal show was a discourse about conspiracies, Jones explained. Ian pointed out how certain conspiracies of the day are based on the conjecture and fun aspect of the X-Files, not on reality. "One of the things that really worries me is that we have people in positions of power that are still proposing different conspiracy theories," Jones added. Ian suggested many today treat conspiracies as fact even though we do not have any more data than we did decades ago when The X-Files was first airing on television.