Check out this interesting article at Slate
by By Jefferson Pooley and Michael Socolow entitled, "The Myth of the War of the Worlds Panic
." They make the case that the famous Halloween broadcast of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds
by the Mercury Radio Theater cast headed by Orson Welles, was not as big a national panic as we've been led to believe. In fact, Pooley and Socolow suggest the "panic" reported over a Martian landing was mostly propaganda by the newspaper industry. (Right: Orson Welles, Pioneering Radio Performer, Photo in Public Domain)
The young radio industry had begun to pull advertising dollars away from print and pushing the idea that Welles had caused panic with his radio broadcast was an attempt to give the radio industry a bit of a black eye.
Here's the story we've always heard: The Radio Broadcast That Panicked America: War of the Worlds