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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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July 4th, 2014
05:42 PM ET

Was the 1990's the last great decade?

(CNN) – Where does the 1990's rank as a decade? Pretty high, according to National Geographic's three-part special "The 90's: The Last Great Decade?"

"There were a lot of good things that happened in the 90's. The economy was expanding, there (was a) push for more rights for people ... there was the expansion of the internet," says writer and journalist David Sirota, a contributor to the series.

The consequences of 1990's excess were not felt until after the decade was over, says Sirota.

"In hindsight, the 1990's looks like a time where the problems we faced were relatively small – the Cold War was over, we weren't at war, and we didn't face the kinds of problems, sizeably, that we face today," Sirota said.

The decade also saw the bust of the dot-com bubble. Many argue that the 1990's were a vacation from history, that an overall naivete pervaded the decade.

"We were deregulating Wall Street, and obviously that came crashing down in the financial collapse later," he said. "There were signs of threat of terrorism, ... there was Columbine, which I think was a warning on a lot of the gun issues that we're now still dealing with."

Celebrities, politicians, and other familiar faces of the 90's also contributed to the special, including Monica Lewinsky.

"To have my narrative ripped from me, and turned into the Starr report, and things that were turned over, or things they delved out of my computer, that I thought were deleted – I mean, it was just violation after violation," Lewinsky says in the series.

"What she reminds us of, is that was really a time when tabloid news became political news," said Sirota. "The boundaries between what we call tabloid news and quote-unquote serious news, they sort of blurred into what we have now."

Lewinsky contributed to that blurring, as did the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal, the O.J. Simpson trial, and Princess Diana's death, says Sirota.

The pervasive, 24-hours news cycle mixing tabloid news and serious news is "actually exacerbated now by the fact that the technology that came out of the 1990's, with the internet, then ultimately became the internet in your pocket, and everybody can post video," said Sirota.

The series airs Sunday, July 6, at 9 p.m. on National Geographic. 

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