April Fool's Day Political Hoaxes
Pennsylvania Capitol Building Collapses.
The Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) published a photograph of the state capitol building collapsing. A caption below the picture read, “Custodian A.F. Day said the blast occurred during a joint House-Senate session addressed by Hubert Humphrey and Gov. Milton Shapp… Day attributed the explosion to an abnormal expansion of hot air which usually is absorbed by acoustic seats in the chamber.“ The hoax elicited negative comments from many readers who accused the paper of “confusing fun with irresponsibility.“ Two days later the paper apologized for the hoax and promised that it would never publish another. The hoax recalled a similar April Fool’s Day joke published by the Madison Capital-Times in 1933.
Reagan Heads Barstow Parade.
Radio station KIOT in Barstow, California announced that a parade was to be held through the city, and that President Reagan would participate in it as the grand marshal. A few people showed up and waited in the heat for the parade (which had never been scheduled).
The Return of Idi Amin.
Tanzania's Sunday Observer reported there was panic in the town of Tabora when former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin was seen walking down the main street of the town dressed in a kilt. Accompanying him were an entourage of armed, semi-naked warriors, 37 of his children, and a member of the Saudi royal family. The Observer noted: "Unfortunately, because of the presence of the Saudi prince, nobody was allowed to photograph this unique whistle-stop visit." At the time, Amin was actually living in exile in Saudi Arabia. He had been deposed from power in 1979 by rebels backed by Tanzanian forces.
Interview With President Carter.
Michael Enright, host of the Sunday Edition of the Canadian Broadcasting Corpation's radio program This Morning, interviewed former President Jimmy Carter on the air. The interview was about softwood lumber, since Carter had recently written an editorial piece in the New York Times criticizing Canada's heavily subsidized lumber industry. However, the interview took a turn for the worse when Enright began telling Carter to speed up his answers. Then Enright asked, "I think the question on everyone's mind is, how did a washed-up peanut farmer from Hicksville such as yourself get involved in such a sophisticated bilateral trade argument?"
Carter seemed stunned by the insult. Finally he replied, "Excuse me? A washed-up pig farmer? You're one to talk, sir. Didn't you used to be on the air five times a week?" The tone of the interview did not improve from there. Carter ended up calling Enright a "rude person" before he hung up. Enright then revealed that the interview had been fake. The Toronto comedian Ray Landry had been impersonating Carter's voice.
The interview generated a number of angry calls from listeners who did not find the joke funny. But the next day the controversy
Saddam Hussein Offered Job in South Africa.
South Africa's Afrikaans-language Beeld newspaper scooped its rivals by reporting that, in a last minute deal to avoid war, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had accepted an offer of exile in South Africa. In exchange he would run South Africa's oil industry. Details of the arrangement included: Hussein would be given a game farm on which to live, and he would travel in a jet outfitted with a missile defense system. The US was said to be happy about the deal because it would make Hussein "somebody else's problem."
Russian President’s Nuclear-Proof Limousine.
The Moscow Times revealed details of the new limousine used to transport President Dmitry Medvedev. It was said to be far more secure than "The Beast" (the nickname of the limousine used to transport U.S. President Obama).
"The Russian car has a 12-centimeter-thick titanium plated roof that is so strong a T-72 tank can drive over it without causing any real damage... Its windows are made of glass that will withstand a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade, while its wheels automatically turn into caterpillar tracks when going over rough terrain...
The Kremlin official noted that the car's occupants could survive a small nuclear attack, but only if the wind was blowing in a certain direction."
A number of news outlets reported the story as fact, including The Guardian. Der Spiegel and three media outlets in South Korea contacted The Moscow Times seeking more details.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.