5 April Fools' Day Pranks That Backfired Disastrously
This selection of stupid April Fools' pranks that went disastrously awry isn't comprehensive. But it does show that there's a thin line between kooky prank and life-altering mistake. http://bit.ly/1SGrtBn
- •In 1986, an Israeli intelligence agent pulled a prank that caused an uproar in the Middle EastIsrael's state-run radio reported that Lebanese Muslim leader Nabih Berri had been killed. The hoax was planted by an Israeli intelligence officer who then watched it spread to state-run radio and even to then–Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The announcement was broadcast on Lebanese radio stations as well as Israeli ones, which forced a quick retraction and apologies from all sides. The intelligence officer, meanwhile, was threatened with a court-martial.
- •In 1998, Opie and Anthony claimed Boston's mayor was dead. They were fired.Radio DJs Greg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia claimed that Boston Mayor Thomas Menino had been killed in a head-on collision. Over the course of the show, they stretched out the "reports" in a nonchalant manner, mingling them with call-in segments and other (presumably real) news. The style was to undersell the story, and at one point the duo even noted, "When a big story like this breaks, a lot of weird facts come in."
- •In 1980, a producer caused a panic by claiming a volcano blew up ... near BostonWNAC-TV in Boston aired a bulletin saying that the Great Blue Hill in Milton, Massachusetts, had become volcanic. It's hard to believe anyone ever took the gag seriously, considering the small size of the hill and the fact that the report was illustrated with stock footage from the recent explosion of Mount St. Helens in Washington. At the end of the segment, there was even a card that read, "April Fool."
- •A 1971 prank in Texas almost caused the state to honor the Boston StranglerAs state Rep. Tom Moore told the Palestine Herald, on April 1, 1971, he introduced a resolution in appreciation of Albert DeSalvo, thanking him for his "pioneering work in population control." DeSalvo had murdered 13 people in Boston and was called the Boston Strangler. It was supposed to be a joke. But the resolution passed. Fortunately, as Snopes clarifies, Moore managed to yank the resolution before the Boston Strangler was permanently commemorated.
- •In 1999, pranksters tried to make fun of the dot-com boom. They got sued.A few pranksters set up a website called "Webnode" that claimed to have raised $4 billion from the government and promised to sell "nodes" for $100. (If that doesn't make any sense, it's part of the point.) On April 1, they revealed their hoax. Unfortunately, as Salon reported, they ended up fooling a lot of people.