ZDF German Public Television Reporter: Long Island Express Storm Of 1938 “Claimed 800 Million Lives”!

Flagship ZDF German public television, Germany’s equivalent to CBS or BBC, reported on Hurricane Sandy yesterday evening on it famous “heute journal” news show. I was watching it live (which is very rare for me) and I couldn’t believe what I heard.

What follows is the video link of the broadcast. Just listen here to what the ZDF correspondent says (in German) at the 28:07 mark!

“Many older people say it reminds them of what happened in 1938. Back then there was the Long Island Express Storm. It claimed 800 million lives on the east coast. This time we will probably also not go without deaths.”

Imagine that. 800 million people on the east coast of a country that at the time had well under 200 million inhabitants.

Did you notice how anchorman Klaus Kleber on the line back in Germany tried to stop him…”how many!…”? Of course, it was a slip-up of gaffe proportions. But notice how when they slip up, it’s an “honest mistake – can happen to anyone!” But when someone else does it, it’s sure proof of incompetence.

Just imagine if Mitt Romney had said it. ZDF would be the first to replay it again and again and again, telling viewers that he just isn’t bright enough to be the President.

Maybe Prömpers was swaying because had been boozing it up and not because of the wind. I don’t know what would cause a reporter of a broadcaster as enlightened as ZDF to make such a dumb mistake.

To be fair, an hour later in the Phoenix broadcast he corrected the figure to “800” lives.


8 responses to “ZDF German Public Television Reporter: Long Island Express Storm Of 1938 “Claimed 800 Million Lives”!”

  1. ArndB

    I heard the interview as also. However, I was shocked that Klaus Kleber was not able to put it right immediately, at least would mention that there must have been a slip-up. Instead he let pass the gaffe.

  2. Ulrich Elkmann

    Millions – billions – trillions – to Europeans it is all the same number by now (& more important: it is an imaginary number, not a real one, in any case).

    Or the other hand, maybe he has confused it with another nasty event of October 1938: the Martian invasion (& the death toll might be worldwide). Of course, that was supposed to be covered up, but ever since the Orson Welles radio document was leaked, no one has believed that “Halloween joke” any longer (it was the wrong date for Halloween!). And Herr Prömpers might have taken a look at the Martian tripod shot down in Princeton Junction, NJ:

  3. Ric Werme

    So that’s where we get our fact checkers!

  4. Mindert Eiting

    Like Al Gore said, just below his feet the earth was extremely hot, millions of degrees. Big is simply better in the USA.

  5. kevin king

    Well at least he made people aware of the Long Island Express storm…a bit before my time. but nevertheless not somthing ZDF would want to highlight in view of their idiotic views on AGW..ie up to 800 people lost their lives in a more ferocious storm in 1938 that clearly had nothing to do with man’s influence on the climate.

    1. Ike

      exactly what I wanted to write.

  6. tckev

    How strange the media reporting is – including some obvious gaffes.
    While it was a dying hurricane leaving the Caribbean with at least 69 dead in the region little was broadcast or written. It left behind devastation in Haiti (52 dead), Cuba, (about 130,000 homes damaged), Jamaica, Bahamas, Dominican Republic (nearly 30,000 people were evacuated due to flooding), and Puerto Rico – all have injured people, damaged property and infrastructure, and flooding.

    Now, as a weakened Tropical storm arrives in the USA there is so much media coverage. Yes it is a very large storm but the USA is more than capable of taking the necessary measures to protect its citizens and restore damaged property. Restoring the damage in the Caribbean will take so much longer.

    Has anyone realized that tropical storm Son Tinh swept through the central Philippines last week, killing 24 people and leaving six others missing and a lot of property remains damaged. It gained typhoon strength with sustained wind speeds of up to 149 km per hour (92.6 mph) as it crossed the South China Sea. By 28 October it had ripped through Vietnam and China displacing many thousands of people, killing seven people and five more are missing.

    Most of the media reports have paid scant attention to these other events.

  7. archaeopteryx


    Long Island gets them regularly.

    Here is the 1938 cover page of the Southbridge Evening News. 600 dead, lights out for a week etc: h++p://www.hurricanecity.com/images/12-1938.jpg

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