Orson Welles Verdict: Guilty

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On October 30, 1938, Orson Welles broadcasted a revised version of the novel War of the Worlds over the air as part of his usual radio dramas. The broadcast, however, was revised so it would be set in the United States and it even sounded like a news report. The radio drama led to mass panic all over the United States and even deaths. Because of this broadcast, Orson Welles is guilty of violating the Clear and Present Danger Clause of the 1st Amendment. Orson Welles violated the Clear and Present Danger Clause because he created a location danger with the revised version of the novel, War of the Worlds. He had Howard Koch help him rewrite the novel as a radio script and also altered the setting of the novel. Though Koch was the one who chose the setting, it was Welles who clearly stated he wanted the revised novel to take place in the 1938 United States. Even more, the author, H.G. Wells, did not give Welles permission to revise War of the Worlds and merely believed he would read the novel as it was. By doing this, Orson Welles caused a location danger to Americans listening in. Welles also violated the Clear and Present Danger Clause by creating a clear and obvious danger to Americans listening in to the radio drama. This is because the radio drama sounded a lot like a news broadcast because it often interrupted music with “breaking news” and reported the events of the novel as news segments. Though Welles and Taylor Davidson, the CBS executive, were aware that to listeners, the drama may have sounded like a real news broadcast, Welles only announced that the broadcast was only just a radio drama every forty minutes. This means that people who were unfortunate enough to tune in at the wrong time or not listen all the way through might not have heard the announcement that the broadcast was only fiction. Also, the broadcast itself led to over twenty deaths, some of which were suicide. For only a fictional broadcast, twenty deaths are too much; no one should have...
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