Orson Welles probably wasn’t looking to set off a nationwide panic with his Oct. 30, 1938, radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds,” based on the classic sci-fi novel about Martians invading Earth, but according to the press coverage of the time he did exactly that.
The next day, The New York Times reported that “thousands” believed the interplanetary conflict was real, and the broadcast “disrupted households, interrupted religious services, created traffic jams and clogged communications systems.”
In hindsight, media historians aren’t so sure that’s really how it went down, however. Snopes.com’s David Emery reports on recent scholarship suggesting that the so-called “nationwide panic” was overblown.
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