What is the biggest media hoax in history? Several contributors to Quora, a crowdsourcing site for questions and answers, took on this challenge. Many mentioned Orson Welles and War of the Worlds broadcast, the impact of which may be mythic, as well.
My favorite tale, however, featured late night radio/TV personality and writer Jean Shepherd. Back in April of 1955, Shep, as he was known, became annoyed when a bookstore clerk told him that a book that he sought could not have existed because it wasn’t on any publisher’s list.
On his [radio] show, he railed about the Day People who believed in their silly lists. Bestseller lists, he said, got made by bored reporters who would call book dealers to find out what was selling. All it would take for a book to make the list would be for lots of inquiries for the same title at different dealers.
Then came his brilliant idea for the hoax.
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