In 1986, the United States government created a fake newscast of a nuclear bomb exploding in Indianapolis, Indiana, as part of an exercise on what federal agencies should do in the event of a nuclear attack. That video remained secret for decades until last week.
In the never-before-seen video, obtained by Gizmodo through a Freedom of Information Act request and published Wednesday, a fake newscaster named “Jeff Schwartz” reports on what he describes as “day four” of an emergency situation in the Midwest city.
“You know that few details are available, but this much we know,” Schwartz says. “A large portion of downtown Indianapolis remains evacuated. Now, reports are sketchy at this point, but we do know that apparently there are terrorists holed up in the downtown part of our city with nuclear devices. How many people, how many devices – we’re not sure.”
“But we have just learned here at the Channel 9 newsroom that a federal response team has been sent in to neutralize the threat,” the broadcaster says.
Schwartz then tosses to another reporter, called Ann Miller, on the mock “Chopper 9” for on-site coverage of the situation.
“We’ve just passed over the speedway. We’re heading East towards downtown,” Miller says. “Now, normally at this time of the morning you would see the beginnings of rush hour traffic, but this morning seems strangely still.”
“Is any traffic moving at all?” Schwartz asks.
“Yes. Although the city has been evacuated, there are police down there in the streets making sure everyone stays out of town,” Miller says over the sound of a noisy helicopter.
“Just how close can we get to where the terrorists have been holed up?” Schwartz asks.
“The FBI and police have cordoned off the area and they’ve restricted airspace above it,” Miller responds. “We’re headed in that direction now. But we can only….”
Miller’s report is interrupted by a bright white light until footage of the city is cut off completely and the camera goes to static.
“We’ve obviously lost our microwave link with Chopper 9,” Schwartz says. “Can someone get on the two-way radio and see if they can contact Ann and see what’s going on out there. Meanwhile, I’d like to again caution our audience against over concern…”
As the anchor is warning his audience to remain calm, a loud explosion cuts him off midsentence. Schwartz looks up and says, “Oh my God” just before the broadcast is lost.
The fake newscast was created in December 1986, when the Pentagon, CIA, FBI, Department of Energy and numerous other federal agencies gathered in Indianapolis for a training exercise dubbed Mighty Derringer.