THE ” WAR OF THE WORLDS ” MYTH – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I went to a presentation celebrating the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”. The reason this particular broadcast has lived on in history and is still remembered and talked about today is really quite interesting.

Orson Welles broadcasting “The War of the Worlds”

The radio play starts with a typical program playing music from a live band. This fictional program is then interrupted by a realistic sounding “newscaster” reporting an increasingly destructive invasion by Martians. The Martians wipe out New Jersey and proceed to annihilate Manhattan. They are reported to be landing all over the east coast of the United States. The U.S. army is reported to be vanquished and the audience is told that we have no defenses left.

Rehearsal of War of the Worlds

Newspapers the next day, including the New York Times, headlined a nationwide panic that made this incident the most notorious event in broadcast history. The unprecedented mass hysteria was talked about in newspapers, books, articles and radio and TV shows for the past 80 years.

The day after the broadcast

There were reports of thousands of panicked calls to police and radio stations across the country. There were stories of traffic accidents, near riots and hordes of panicked people in the streets and on the roads, fleeing the Martian invasion. There were even reports of suicides and deaths due to the hysteria caused by the broadcast. It was claimed that the stories continued in the newspapers for two weeks, with over 12,500 articles about the panic.

The day after the broadcast

Today, however, this version of history has now been debunked and fallen out of favor. The current belief is that whatever panic occurred, it was small and not widespread. Most listeners understood this was a dramatization. While some may have been scared by the story, few panicked. Evidence shows that at the time of the event, newspaper reports of the story actually stopped after a day or two, not weeks. The story was not the long-lasting, national headline grabber we believed it to be.

In addition, far fewer people heard the original broadcast than most people believed. This fact makes the magnitude of the reported panic much more implausible. A rating service the night of the broadcast reported only 2% of listeners were even tuned in to The “War of the Worlds.” This was true, in part because Welles was scheduled opposite one of the most popular shows on the air – Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.

In addition, several important CBS affiliates, including in Boston, didn’t even air Welles’ show. Instead, they aired local commercial programming, which further reduced Welles’ national audience.

History does show, however, that the story grew in magnitude and in detail as time went on. So the 1940 claim that one million people heard the broadcast is grossly exaggerated.

Just as the size of Welles’ audience has been inflated, so have the reports of mass hysteria. There is no documentation of any deaths or even hospital visits, as claimed, due to the shock of the broadcast. In reality, there were almost no contemporaneous news accounts of mobs in the streets or highways jammed with fleeing people. In fact, people later reported walking through the streets of major cities at the time of the broadcast and finding them as empty as usual at that time of night.

There is another piece of evidence used to counter the mass panic scenario. If the terror and chaos had been as bad and as widespread as reported, CBS and Welles would have been severely reprimanded or even punished. But no sanctions were levied and no official rulings or regulations were promulgated by the FCC.

Welles facing the press the day after the broadcast

So why was the mass panic story started and why did it survive for so long?

One credible theory is that newspapers were to blame for the origins of the story. Radio was still a relatively new medium in 1938 – only 18 years old. But already radio was taking advertising dollars and audiences away from the newspaper industry. So the newspapers seized upon this opportunity to trash the radio as an unreliable source of news. A newspaper trade journal at the time wrote: “The nation as a whole continues to face the danger of incomplete, misunderstood news over a medium which had yet to prove …that it is competent to perform the news job.”

You can’t trust the radio! Fake news!

People are now debating why this myth has persisted for so long. One answer is a man named Hadley Cantril. He wrote a scholarly book in 1940 that gave academic credence to the panic. He used numbers and statistics that made his story seem plausible, but which have subsequently come into question.

He had no hard facts to back up any of his assertions. And he is the only legitimate academic source that claims there was a sizeable panic. Yet his writing has kept this version of the story in textbooks, as it still is today.

There is a more philosophical explanation of the persistence of the mass hysteria myth. In 2000, Northwestern’s Jeffrey Sconce wrote an article called, “Haunted Media”. In it, he suggests that the “War of the Worlds” myth captures our unease with mass media and the internet’s power over us. We all fear, on some level, the media and the internet “…invading and colonizing our consciousness.” The myth is “…a cautionary tale about the power of the media.”

Jeffrey Sconce

Radio opened up a new means of mass communication and shared experiences. Now the internet is doing the same thing. Sconce states that “…today the internet provides us with both the promise of a dynamic communicative future and dystopian fears of a new form of mind control; lost privacy; and attacks from scary, mysterious forces.”

This is particularly true with today’s epidemic of fake news, foreign intervention, and manipulation of the internet and domestic political dirty tricks. We deal with political misinformation being spread to millions of people every day. A national panic may not have occurred because of a radio broadcast in 1938, but it is more likely to occur today because of the abuse of the internet.

PIZZA WITH PINEAPPLE AND CRISIS ACTORS – Marilyn Armstrong

WEEKLY Word Prompt: Question


The answer to most serious questions is another question. Serious things don’t have simple answers. For example, “Does this pizza require a longer time to cook or will it dry up?” There are no quick answers to any questions pertaining to pizza.

Pineapple pizza
Credit: Getty

Let’s discuss pineapple. Whose idea was it to put fruit on a pizza and why does anyone actually order it? I can understand anchovies, even though no one can force me to eat one. Salty is okay on pizza, but FRUIT? Seriously?

And then, there are politics. How can you look at yourself in the mirror when you are caging children … for any reason? How can you face a kid who survived a mass school shooting, tell him or her that “it didn’t happen” and “he/she is a ‘crisis actor'”?

What’s a crisis actor?  How do you recruit them? Do you advertise in a special “Help Wanted” section of some undercover actor’s journal?



HELP WANTED – CRISIS ACTORS FOR FAKE SLAUGHTER

Are you the kind of actor who plays dead really well? Can you stay very still while buckets of blood pour out of you? If you are under 18, white, and ready to play dead, we want you. Resume required. Non-union.



You’d need a second advertisement, too. For families. Grieving parents, friends, and teachers.



HELP WANTED – GRIEVING FAMILY FOR MURDERED KIDS

Can you cry on cue? If you can convey deep sorry and heartbreak on camera, we need you to play the devastated parents of crisis actors for mock, mass school shooting. Standard rates apply. Send headshots, color only. Ability to cry with real tears mandatory. Non-union.



So many questions, so little time!

POLITICAL CARTOONS OF THE WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

I collect them. Whenever I see a really good one, I save it for the next time I need something funny where humor is hard to find. This week, I haven’t done anything that warrants political cartoons, but these are all so good, I figured — why not?

Have a laugh. Show them to someone and make them laugh, too.

EVERYONE IS A LIAR EXCEPT DONALD TRUMP – Garry Armstrong

“The media always lies,” she said and I cringed.

Then, I got angry. Why do people believe a president who has never told the truth about anything while failing to believe the fact-based truth?

I’m not talking about “ultimate” truth or the meaning of life or faith. I’m talking about things that can be proven with evidence, science. Stuff caught on tape. Printed, heard, overheard, and to which testimony has been given.

I really hate it when I hear that cliché – “The media doesn’t tell the truth. They always lie.”

It demeans all the passion and belief I put into more than 40-years as a working reporter. Moreover, it demeans the careers of so many others who give their lives in pursuit of the truth. Many, literally died in pursuit of the truth.

Photo: USA Today

I am not romanticizing my career. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve gotten it wrong. It happens when you’re covering multiple stories a day, 5 to 7 days a week. With deadlines breathing down your neck.

I always tried to clarify mistakes by accepting my culpability up front and being clear with viewers. There were many days when I hated what I had to do. Usually, it was in pursuit of a truth which would be ugly, demanding, tedious — and require a good deal of soul-searching. The truth isn’t simple, or black and white. Despite what you usually see on television or in movies about reporters, there aren’t many clear “wins.”

The old days

Often, we’re lambasted for telling the truth by the same folks who call us liars. Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” line should be crayoned on the skulls of those who insist the media always lies. Those critics are the same pilgrims who gobble up the crap proffered by the current White House Tenant who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him.

Truth is a foreign language to him. I suspect he actually believes the nonsense he spouts. To make a lie “sound true,” you first have to convince yourself it is true. If you do this for enough years, eventually you don’t even remember what the truth used to be.

I fervently wish that the people who belittle media and law enforcement spend some time, real-time — like 24/7 — on the streets. The real streets, not their cozy neighborhood. They might discover that life without the public relations filters is a different place.

They might see our world in three dimensions and begin to look for reality instead of accepting whatever propaganda or other gobbledygook is being dumped in their biased, insulated worlds. Maybe some of them would even consider (gasp) reading something.

Finally, I’m proud of what I did for a living. For 40 plus years, I fought to tell the truth.

It was a privilege.

TRUTH VS LIES – Garry Armstrong

“The media always lies,” she said and I cringed.

Then, I got angry. Why do people believe a president who has never told the truth about anything while failing to believe fact-based truth.

I’m not talking about “ultimate” truth or the meaning of life or faith. I’m talking about things that can be proved with evidence, science. Stuff caught on tape. Printed, heard, overheard, and to which testimony has been given.

I really hate it when I hear that cliché – “The media doesn’t tell the truth. They always lie.” It demeans all the passion and belief I put into more than 40-years as a working reporter. Moreover, it demeans the careers of so many others who give their lives in pursuit of the truth. Many, literally died in pursuit of the truth.

Photo: USA Today

I am not romanticizing my career. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve gotten it wrong. It happens when you’re covering multiple stories a day, 5 to 7 days a week. With deadlines breathing down your neck.

I always tried to clarify mistakes by accepting my culpability up front and being clear with viewers. There were many days when I hated what I had to do. Usually, it was in pursuit of a truth which would be ugly, demanding, tedious — and require a good deal of soul-searching. The truth isn’t simple, or black and white. Despite what you usually see on television or in movies about reporters, there aren’t many clear “wins.”

180-Graphic-Photographs-2-MOB-Party-04212018_036
The old days

Often, we’re lambasted for telling the truth by the same folks who call us liars. Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” line should be crayoned on the skulls of those who insist the media always lies. Those critics are the same pilgrims who gobble up the pablum offered by the current White House Tenant who doesn’t know what the truth is. It’s like a foreign language to him.

I fervently wish that Those People who belittle the media and law enforcement officials  spend some time, real time — like 24/7 on the streets. The real streets, not just their cozy neighborhood. They might see life closeup without any of the public relations filters. I suspect those critics would change that tune and maybe sing a different song. They might think before they speak and see our world in three-dimensions instead of whatever propaganda they accept in their biased, insulated worlds.

Finally, I’m proud of what I did for a living. For 40 plus years, I fought to tell the truth. It was a privilege!

FUN WITH FAKE NEWS! THE RERUN – BY TOM CURLEY

Tom must have a hint of prescience because since the day this posted, the staff at the White House has been disappearing at a prodigious rate. Given that, I figured this needed an immediate rerun!

Just for fun, see: More White House staffers reportedly want to jump ship but are struggling to find new employment


This story just in from AP, UPI, Reuters, CBS, NBC, ABC, the Onion and other major news outlets.


Mass Resignations at White House.

2/23/2018

In a stunning development today, the entire White House staff has resigned including all senior and junior aides, as well as the entire domestic and administrative staff. A letter was sent to the President and released to the press stating, “We the undersigned employees, aides and staff of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue hereby resign, effective immediately. Our reasons, which are diverse, basically come down to, we just can’t take it anymore.”

Reporters immediately got statements from many staff members, who, in breaking from normal procedure, did not ask to be quoted anonymously. According to one staffer, “Who the hell cares? It’s not as if any of us work there anymore.”

The White House Switchboard is closed. Reporters trying to call it received the following message. “You’ve reached the White House. Don’t bother to leave a message. We’re all out and we ain’t coming back.”

The resignations include most of the President’s cabinet. EPA Secretary Scott Pruit was quoted as saying, “If I can’t fly first class, I quit.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters, “I actually stopped doing anything a few months ago. I spend most of the day watching Judge Judy and reruns of Madame Secretary.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was unable to be reached for comment. According to his spokesperson, “He’s gone back to his tree to make cookies”.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Secretary of Housing Ben Carson could also not be reached for comment. Mr. Perry still can’t remember which department he works for or where it is. Mr. Carson was asleep.

The Secretary of Defense is staying on the job, mostly to, quote: “Keep that fucking moron away from the nuclear codes.”

The White House counsel Don McGahn was heard to say, “Hell, Perry Mason couldn’t keep this clown out of jail. I’m out.”

The staff is reported to have done several things before they departed. According to one source, “We took the labels off all the light switches. And the guy who handles the nuclear football replaced it with a suitcase containing a Remco Radar Rocket Cannon. He’ll never know the difference.”

The housekeeping staff is reported to have short-sheeted Trump’s bed, put shaving cream on the earpiece of the phone in the Oval Office, and nailed all the furniture in the Lincoln bedroom to the ceiling.

The head White House Chef was quoted as saying, “I’ve had it. I give up. I mean, I’m a 4 Star Michelin chef for Christ’s sake! And all I do is pour ketchup over burnt steaks! I once served him a gourmet hamburger that won a James Beard award. And do you know what he did? He threw it away and asked me to send out for McDonalds! McDONALDS! Are you kidding me?? Fuck him! I’m out.”

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump could not be reached for comment. They’re skiing in Colorado. Neither Donald Jr. or Eric Trump were asked for comments. None of the press outlets were interested in anything they had to say.

The formal resignation letter was delivered to the President’s desk at 9 AM. By noon, all the West Wing offices were vacant. The only remaining personnel are Steve Miller, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Hope Hicks. According to Hicks, “somebody has to steam the President’s pants.”  An hour later, she was reported to have said “Screw it. Let him steam is own God Damn pants.” And she also quit. Miller was reportedly seen behind the White House pulling the wings off of small helpless insects. At 2 pm Sanders gave a press briefing to an empty White House press room.

According to a senior White House Correspondent, “Quite frankly, everything that comes out of her mouth is bullshit. So why bother? We just don’t care anymore.”

It has not been confirmed whether or not the President has seen the actual letter yet. It was reported on Fox News during one of the President’s “Executive Time-outs.” So far the President has only released one tweet: “Failing fake news says my whole staff quit! FAKE NEWS! SAD! All Hillary’s fault. Lock her up! NO COLLUSION!”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is, however, still on the job

This is an ongoing story. Updates to follow.

-0-


Hey, it could happen.

Feel free to pass this along on all social media outlets.

Fake news. It’s not just for Russians anymore!

An due to wide demand. Again, Two Dogs Playing I Got Your Nose.

FUN WITH FAKE NEWS! – BY TOM CURLEY

This story just in from AP, UPI, Reuters, CBS, NBC, ABC, the Onion and other major news outlets.


Mass Resignations at White House.

2/23/2018

In a stunning development today, the entire White House staff has resigned including all senior and junior aides, as well as the entire domestic and administrative staff. A letter was sent to the President and released to the press stating, “We the undersigned employees, aides and staff of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue hereby resign, effective immediately. Our reasons, which are diverse, basically come down to, we just can’t take it anymore.”

Reporters immediately got statements from many staff members, who, in breaking from normal procedure, did not ask to be quoted anonymously. According to one staffer, “Who the hell cares? It’s not as if any of us work there anymore.”

The White House Switchboard is closed. Reporters trying to call it received the following message. “You’ve reached the White House. Don’t bother to leave a message. We’re all out and we ain’t coming back.”

The resignations include most of the President’s cabinet. EPA Secretary Scott Pruit was quoted as saying, “If I can’t fly first class, I quit.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters, “I actually stopped doing anything a few months ago. I spend most of the day watching Judge Judy and reruns of Madame Secretary.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions was unable to be reached for comment. According to his spokesperson, “He’s gone back to his tree to make cookies”.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Secretary of Housing Ben Carson could also not be reached for comment. Mr. Perry still can’t remember which department he works for or where it is. Mr. Carson was asleep.

The Secretary of Defense is staying on the job, mostly to, quote: “Keep that fucking moron away from the nuclear codes.”

The White House counsel Don McGahn was heard to say, “Hell, Perry Mason couldn’t keep this clown out of jail. I’m out.”

The staff is reported to have done several things before they departed. According to one source, “We took the labels off all the light switches. And the guy who handles the nuclear football replaced it with a suitcase containing a Remco Radar Rocket Cannon. He’ll never know the difference.”

The housekeeping staff is reported to have short-sheeted Trump’s bed, put shaving cream on the earpiece of the phone in the Oval Office, and nailed all the furniture in the Lincoln bedroom to the ceiling.

The head White House Chef was quoted as saying, “I’ve had it. I give up. I mean, I’m a 4 Star Michelin chef for Christ’s sake! And all I do is pour ketchup over burnt steaks! I once served him a gourmet hamburger that won a James Beard award. And do you know what he did? He threw it away and asked me to send out for McDonalds! McDONALDS! Are you kidding me?? Fuck him! I’m out.”

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump could not be reached for comment. They’re skiing in Colorado. Neither Donald Jr. or Eric Trump were asked for comments. None of the press outlets were interested in anything they had to say.

The formal resignation letter was delivered to the President’s desk at 9 AM. By noon, all the West Wing offices were vacant. The only remaining personnel are Steve Miller, Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Hope Hicks. According to Hicks, “somebody has to steam the President’s pants.”  Miller was reportedly seen behind the White House pulling the wings off of small helpless insects. At 2 pm Sanders gave a press briefing to an empty White House press room.

According to a senior White House Correspondent, “Quite frankly, everything that comes out of her mouth is bullshit. So why bother? We just don’t care anymore.”

It has not been confirmed whether or not the President has seen the actual letter yet. It was reported on Fox News during one of the President’s “Executive Time-outs.” So far the President has only released one tweet: “Failing fake news says my whole staff quit! FAKE NEWS! SAD! All Hillary’s fault. Lock her up! NO COLLUSION!”

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is, however, still on the job

This is an ongoing story. Updates to follow.

-0-


Hey, it could happen.

Feel free to pass this along on all social media outlets.

Fake news. It’s not just for Russians anymore!