An excerpt from "War of the Worlds": Behind the 1938 Radio Show Panic
by Stefan Lovgen
National Geographic News
June 17, 2005
It was the day before Halloween, October 30, 1938. Henry Brylawski was on his way to pick up his girlfriend at her Adams Morgan apartment in Washington, D.C.
As he turned on his car radio, the 25-year-old law student heard some startling news. A huge meteorite had smashed into a New Jersey farm. New York was under attack by Martians.
"I knew it was a hoax," said Brylawski, now 92.
Others were not so sure. When he reached the apartment, Brylawski found his girlfriend's sister, who was living there, "quaking in her boots," as he puts it. "She thought the news was real," he said.
It was not. What radio listeners heard that night was an adaptation, by Orson Welles's Mercury Theater group, of a science fiction novel written 40 years earlier: The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells.
However, the radio play, narrated by Orson Welles, had been written and performed to sound like a real news broadcast about an invasion from Mars.
Thousands of people, believing they were under attack by Martians, flooded newspaper offices and radio and police stations with calls, asking how to flee their city or how they should protect themselves from "gas raids." Scores of adults reportedly required medical treatment for shock and hysteria....
I think it's fair to say that most of this blog has been devoted towards articulating the existence of a manufactured, internet zeitgeist characterised by right woos left infiltration. Arguably the two biggest blogs of the past decade have been Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. We now know that DKos has been run by a person whose original allegiance was to the right wing oligarchy from El Salvador. Markos Moulitsas actually applied for a position in the CIA, and in 2006 described it as a liberal institution with its heart in the right place. DU was formed as a branch of the triangulating Democratic Leadership Council. In short, true progressives have not been welcomed at either of those dives.
In other areas of the internet, we have witnessed even more lefty posers with their right wing suitors. Sub-tier blogs such as BradBlog, Rigorous Intuition, InfoWars, and What Really Happened can be said to be part and parcel of paranoic, conspiracy theory freakdom. This is the historical record. Once was a time when there was great hope for the internet being a communicative device for positive, social change. Stories published on the internet were scooping the mainstream media. However, as Altamont signified the end of 60's idealism, hoaxes perpetrated by lying lefties such as Jason Leopold and Brad Friedman symbolised the end of the internet having any credibility. We knew deep down that Alex Jones, Michael Rivero, Willis Carto, and other forms of right woos left were full of it. Those influences didn't actually destroy the internet. It was the Lefty Liars Club which did that. It was as if we were all rounded up into fake lefty blogs only to be ridiculed and then banned for questioning the idiocy being spewed. Now all that remains are pockets of awareness.
In this blog entry, I will examine belief systems and try to formulate why hack bloggers were able to infiltrate and destroy the blogosphere. In short, this was done because we the people form the bedrock of fakery. Wilhelm Reich was quite correct that Nazism took hold in Germany due to the social-psychology of the masses. The same applies to the United States and its current forms of fascism-lite. Of course some of us knew from the get-go that the Iraq War was criminal. However, we were only the few. Why did it take so long for the rest of society to catch up to the truth?
In regards to the net, fakery ruled the day due to there being a dearth of thoughtful discussion. Simply put, things regressed into the realm of conspiracy schlock. Bush and Cheney were demonised. More people were hearing about them being the problem rather than the system itself. The idea was pushed that Bush and Cheney were behind 9/11. Bush and Cheney truly suck, but that's preposterous. It then got even stu piddier. Bush and Cheney were plugged as being central cogs of a government sponsored, satanic, mind control, pedophile ring. That crap was making its way to the top of the Democratic Underground's most popular links. Andy Stephenson was at the forefront of peddling that specific form of insanity. Some of his best friends were Brett Kimberlin, Brad Friedman, and Larisa Alexandrovna. Alexandrovna used to co-write articles with Jason Leopold and vouched for the Speedway Bomber, going so far as to spread the disinformation that he was an exonerated, ex-political prisoner. Larry Johnson was also a part of that crowd. They controlled the moderating and zeitgeist at the top boards.
Around the time Kos got outed as being a CIA loving piece of shit, he decided to ban conspiracy talk. Fine. Whatever. But the damage was done, and the big question that needs to be asked is why do so many people feel that Daily Kos speaks for the left? Sure, it's a skeleton of what it once was. A new blog jumped in front by an incredible margin. That would be the Huffington Post. But that was no great advancement. The structure of Huffington lends itself to churning out threads with a daily turnover rate. Nothing ever remains on the front page for too long. The pages take too damn long to load. Too much entertainment rubbish is pushed. Too many of the bloggers are non-intellectual entertainers and hack writers. Censorship also exists at HuffPost. And even if one is fortunate to have any good stuff posted, whoop-de-doo. It won't ever approach becoming a pocket of awareness, since it will inevitably be circumscribed by a mountain of posts full of inane banter.
We have seen the enemy, and it is us. One of the greatest works put out by Orson Welles was a little-known documentary titled F is for Fake. Like the article above concerning War of the Worlds, this movie covered the concept of how fakery can easily become established as zeitgeist.
Here is what Welles found out. He covered the story of Elmyr de Hory, a man notorious for faking out musuems with his forgeries of art masterpieces. Now here is where the irony set in. Clifford Irving had been the one conducting interviews of the confidence man. It later turned out that Irving himself had concocted a fake autobiography of Howard Hughes. Like with the mass hysteria produced by War of the Worlds, Welles showed how significant numbers of society can be easily duped into believing fakeries. I think such an analysis can also be applied to the blogosphere. The same process has taken place there. Eventually such fraud does get exposed but only much later, after the damage has been done, like with Bush's War on Terror.
The same process occurred with the satanic panic, and innocent people went to jail. Opportunistic creeps such as Geraldo and Oprah lended credibility to that which deserved none. There is another example I'd like to share. It concerns the search for the Zodiac killer.
Robert Graysmith wrote a book called Zodiac. Somehow he pulled a Clifford Irving, just substitute the Zodiac killer for Howard Hughes. Graysmith ended up as a so-called expert. Such confidence men are all over the internet. Alexandrovna, Leopold, and Friedman are fake journalists. Rivero, Jones, and Carto are fake patriots. Kos and Huffington are fake liberals.
Graysmith UNMASKED 1 - The Cartoonist & His Suspect