I ran across a gem of a story concerning the gullibility of the average American in Boortz's new book "Somebody's Gotta Say It." Boortz will often lie on the air to increase entertainment value. It often comes in the form of playing the eternal 'devil's advocate' in debates on which he has not formed a solid opinion, but sometimes take the form of a hoax or two. It's why he has the disclaimer that you should never believe anything you hear on his show unless you confirm it independently. An example of such a hoax was Boortz's 'discovery' that TV screens under nineteen inches, by government mandate, will automatically 'right' the screen if turned upside down. According to Boortz, if you turned your small TV upside-down and waited, the image would eventually flip rightside up. He got a lot of e-mails from husbands coming home to see their wives staring at the TV screen, waiting for it to flip. However, the greatest hoax was cat chasing.
Boortz is an aviation fan, and has his own plane (before anybody starts, a private plane can cost less than a bass boat, and is not just a toy for the rich). As such, he caught a humor article in an Arizona skydiving newsletter about a completely made up sport called 'cat chasing.' In a single paragraph, they described that the sport was played by tossing a cat out of an airplane, waiting a couple of seconds, then have about 6 skydivers follow. The first one to catch the cat won the round, and you do this for a pre-determined number of rounds. Well, this was funny enough by itself, but it needed a full-fledged prank, so Boortz set it up. He talked about this sport on the air, claiming it was coming to an unspecified airport in South Georgia. He called on fake experts (actual skydiving experts, but fake in the sense that they were not experts on the sport, as the sport, itself, was a fake) to talk about everything from the one fatality caused when a cat clawed a guy's parachute to shreds and how you don't really need to hold the cat, as the claws will dig in and the cat will hang on until you hit the ground.
Well, wouldn't you know it, the hate mail started pouring in. Animal rights groups were protesting outside the station. He was being called everything from simply 'sick' to a 'future serial killer.' Many members in his audience called BS on it, but he would not admit it was made up. He was so fervent that even the staunchest skeptics began to wonder. It was too good to stop. He announced that he was going to broadcast the entire thing live on the day of the event. Before long, he was getting larger protests (his rating were HUGE, though) and even calls from South Georgia sherriffs demanding to know the location of the event so they could stop it (it was an election year), but Boortz said he was not at liberty to say where it would be. One sherriff even showed up at the studio, claiming that he would arrest Boortz unless he was given the location of the event. Boortz, being a member of the Bar Association, asked to know what the charge would be, causing the sherriff to back off.
Well, after spending many, many hours creating sound effects (including a soggy roll of paper towels being dropped on the mic to simulate a 'splat'), the day finally came. They announced they expected to lose no more than four cats, had correspondents in the plane and even jumping with the athletes. Boortz himself even 'jumped' with one group and tried to catch the cat. The outrage of the gullible, unwashed masses was so great that they didn't stop at the station, and actually flooded Home Depot, one of Boortz's biggest sponsors, with hate mail and phone calls, eventually causing them and several other advertisers to pull their sponsorship for the year (didn't seem like a good idea at the time, but with the ratings boost that came, they had no trouble filling the spot later). When they were finally done with it, he announced, in the final thirty seconds of the show, "Folks, I'm in the studios in Atlanta! This has all been fake and you've been had!" Considering how many sponsors the station lost, it's a wonder Boortz stayed on the air, but survive he did, and he and his crew raised thousands of dollars for animal shelters by selling cassettes of the broadcast.
This shall go down in the annalls of history alongside dihydrogen monoxide as one of the best scams ever pulled. I hope I can get a hold of that tape.