Short Waves at the Hauptmann Trial, June 1935 Short Wave Craft

February 13, 1935 was probably the first case of a major news organization incorrectly reporting a courtroom verdict because of a radio communications fail – the birth of Fake News!

“Fake News,” or mistaken reporting, has been around as long as someone has attempted to relay, restate, or report an event. In the case of the Hauptman verdict, it was technology that created the problem, not the people reporting. Today, technology has amplified the human problem and added more voices to the creators and critics of news reporting. – Gary Gardiner, 2019

“If you listened to the radio reports which gave the jury’s verdict on that eventful night when they walked into the courtroom, you will remember that the first verdict given over the broadcast stations was to the effect that Hauptmann had been found guilty, with a recommendation for mercy, which meant life imprisonment. A few minutes later a second broadcast came over the networks to the effect that he had been found guilty of murder in the first degree, which meant the electric chair.”