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Pearl Harbor Was No Hoax – Dale’s Daily Data

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You probably know the story of the Orson Wells radio spoof back in 1938.  Back then he was doing a weekly radio show when it was interrupted by what sounded like a very real report that an alien space ship had landed in New Jersey.  And even though they told people throughout the program that it wasn’t real – people thought it was and it kept the country in a panic for hours.

All over the country, people fled their homes to areas away from the city while others barricaded themselves in their homes and armed themselves for a fight with space creatures.  People were hysterical and it was beyond what Wells could ever imagine.  Some people thinking that Martians were going to capture them and do terrible things – they took their own lives.

People all over thought that America was being invaded.  And all because of a radio program that was meant to
be entertaining.  It was just a little too real.  That was back in the day when there was no television, no internet.  Radio was king.

For Orson Wells is was all in fun.  It was show business, but Wells was the target of criticism for months – from the press, Congress and even the president for playing such a hoax on the public.  He promised it would never happen again.

But just a few years later, Wells was again in the middle of his network radio show reading a simple passage from Walt Whitman, when an announcer broke in to tell America that we were being invaded.  Remembering his big hoax of just three years before, millions of listeners did nothing.  Even President Roosevelt was listening at the White House and he immediately fired off a telegram telling Wells to stop the nonsense before someone got hurt.

But this time it was real.  We were being invaded.  It wasn’t aliens though.  It was during Orson Wells’ broadcast that a real news reporter broke in and told the nation that the Japanese had just bombed Pearl Harbor.  And for a while, no one believed it!  And this is the day it happened, 70 years ago.

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