Day By Day

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Media Myth -- The "War of the Worlds" Broadcast

AFP, the French news agency, features a story today about the 1938 Mercury Theater Broadcast of H. G. Wells' "War of the Worlds". The nationwide hysteria, according to the story, supposedly crystallized fears based in reports of actual and impending conflicts in Asia and Europe. [here]

Media and academic elites love this story. It is, for them, a perfect illustration of the gullibility of the common man, and the ease with which Americans can be manipulated into panic. No wonder the French chose to commemorate it.

Trouble is, the panic has been grossly exaggerated and the real story of Orson Welles' broadcast and its aftermath is a study in the gullibility of the media and how it was manipulated by Welles. I recently blogged the real story. Read it here.