"Radio Listeners in Panic, Taking War Drama as Fact." New York Times 31 Oct. 1938. ProQuest. 9 Apr. 2008.
This is an original article in the New York Times from 1938 that describes the widespread panic that follows Orson Welles radio show version of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds on Halloween 1938. In the radio show, Orson Welles had done an entire show pretending that aliens had landed in New Jersey and were causing mass destruction throughout New Jersey and New York. Even though the radio station made several announcements to the effect that the show was just a performance, thousands upon thousands of people in the Northeast called their local authorities genuinely terrified and wondering what they could do to protect themselves and their families. Upon being reassured that the show was just a performance, many citizens did not know who to believe – Welles or the police. The telephone companies reported that they had never been so overrun with calls and streets all over New York and New Jersey were flooded with people running aimlessly with wet towels over their mouths trying to protect themselves from the alleged toxic gas.
This article is relevant to Citizen Kane because, aside from Citizen Kane, this stunt was perhaps Welles’ most renowned creative work and is a sort of tribute to his ability as an actor and his talents at emotionally affecting people. Even though the radio show ended up causing mass panic throughout much of New York and New Jersey, and even resulted in a number of people needing treatment for hysteria, Welles had never anticipated the effect his show would have, saying they almost didn’t do the stunt because they thought people would be too bored with something so unbelievable.
Perez, Louis. "The Meaning of the Maine: Causation and the Historiography of the Spanish-American War." The Pacific Historical Review 58 (1989): 293-322. JStor. 8 Apr. 2008.
This article examines the causes of the Spanish-American War and the role that the sinking of the Maine battleship off the coast of Havana played in motivating the United States to enter into the war. The article cites many historians and military experts who seem to concur that the United States started the Spanish-American war largely because of the sinking of the battleship, which was attributed by many to foul play on the part of the Spanish. This opinion that Spain was to blame for deliberately sinking our ship near Havana was largely adopted by the public as a result of so-called “yellow journalism” on the part of William Randolph Hearst and his paper, New York Journal, along with competing newspaper New York World. In what many consider to have been sensationalist attempts to increase newspaper distribution, both of these papers and others across the United States motivated public outcry that left the government no choice but to declare war on Spain.
This is relevant to Citizen Kane because the film’s namesake, Charles Foster Kane, was based largely in part on the real-life newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, and Hearst went to great lengths to limit the release of Citizen Kane because of the unflattering way in which he was portrayed in the film. Perhaps the most memorable example of how Citizen Kane made Hearst look bad was the way in which Kane seemed to take great pleasure in instigating the war with Spain in the film. He famously dictated: “Dear Wheeler: you provide the prose poems. I'll provide the war,” and this article gives more insight into the real story behind Hearst and the Spanish-American war.