Mass hysteria about lurking clowns is making a mark on Rutherford County. MTSU Professor Larry Burriss has more...
Back during the depression strange markings began appearing on sidewalks across the country. The scrawled words simply said "They're coming." Since there was massive unemployment, many people assumed the signs were a warning that towns and villages were about to be invaded by armies of bums and tramps. Police departments added extra patrols, and in several towns, armed vigilantes took to the streets.
And what was the invasion? It wasn't. It seems a cereal company was introducing a new breakfast cereal, and the sidewalk markings were part of a marketing campaign.
Just a few years later Orson Welles scared the wits out of credulous radio listeners who reported seeing Martians landing across the country.
Between 2003 and 2005 the nation was enraptured by the story of little Kodee Kennings, whose father was serving with the Army in Iraq. Newspapers across the country ran letters from Kodee to her father. Reporters talked with her on the phone and in person. When her father, Sergeant Dan Kennings, came home on leave, he was interviewed, in person, by reporters.
Then, when stories circulated Sergeant Kennings had been killed in Iraq, there were memorial services.
But guess what: it was all a hoax.
And the woman who fabricated the story, Jaimie Reynolds, didn't pull this prank off by herself. She recruited numerous helpers. She gave extensive written scripts to the "actors" in the charade, and even provided them with wardrobes and fake military tattoos.
To be sure, we have seen numerous times reporters have uncovered graft and corruption, no matter how deep it has been buried. But the fact is, a good hoax will trump a good investigation any day of the week. - I'm Larry Burriss.