5 Major News Stories That Forgot to Tell You the Best Part

If there's one thing we've learned in the Internet age, it's that we lose interest in news stories long before they've run their course. And as we've written before, sometimes that means we miss the biggest details that never made the front page. More often than not, those missing details change everything we learned about the story in the first place.

#5. The Shoe Bomber Failed Because of His Sweaty Feet

Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

The reason you have to take off your shoes when going through the security line at an airport is because on December 22, 2001, Richard Reid attempted to blow up his shoes on American Airlines Flight 63. Obviously, his shoes were special, because ordinary footwear does not explode unless something has gone catastrophically wrong during the manufacturing process. Fortunately, his didn't work as intended -- despite Reid's best attempts, he couldn't get the fuse to light, and since the act of striking one match after another to light a fuse can draw attention on a plane (particularly just three months after 9/11), passengers and flight attendants soon started beating the piss out of him.

All his careful efforts to blend in were wasted.

It looked like the people on that flight were saved from a fiery death not only because of their quick reactions, but also because Reid sucked at building bombs. But actually, Richard Reid was a perfectly able bomber. His plans were foiled by something far, far worse than incompetence.

The Story You Didn't Know:

Reid was a victim. A victim of sweaty feet.

Reid's bomb was actually pretty sophisticated and could've easily blown a hole in the floor under his seat. Which, incidentally, was over a fuel tank. It was a pretty good plan that Reid had followed to a T. However, the bomb makers didn't think of the fact that Reid was a living, breathing, leaking human being.

Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
It's pretty much the same problem that gets in the way of giving advice to teenagers.

Reid had attempted to board a flight the previous day, cool as a cucumber. And if he had made that flight, history books would probably be one tragedy richer. Instead, post-9/11 security measures latched on to the massive, peculiar-looking man, and Reid ended up being grilled by airport security and was refused boarding.

But they turned Reid loose and he was free to try again. This time, though, he was nervous as hell -- and sweaty. This, together with the day's moist weather, played merry hell with his footwear. While the bomb was still a viable explosive, it relied on a fuse made of gunpowder to set it off. Since wet gunpowder doesn't work, and sweat makes things wet ... well, Reid instead found out firsthand just how many people you can get tackled by at once.

Digital Vision./Digital Vision/Getty Images
"Uh, just out of curiosity, are any of the 72 of you virgins? Anyone? Fuck."

#4. The Video That Shut Down ACORN Was a Fake

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) was a government-backed group that helped low-income families with health care, neighborhood safety, housing, and a host of social issues. For 40 years, it aided hundreds of thousands of people across the United States. All that came to a grinding halt in 2009, with a single horrendous video clip.

The ludicrously messed-up video that was released onto the Internet showed ACORN employees from several offices eagerly volunteering advice to a young couple starting a criminal enterprise. The gentleman in question wore a fur coat, a top hat, sunglasses, and a goddamn pimp cane. He wanted to know how to get 15-year-old girls "on their feet" even though they were dependents. Watching the video, you couldn't help but wonder how the ACORN employees could possibly think that helping these people would be a good idea.

Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images
"He has a point; pimping ain't easy ..."

Said video single-handedly caused a scandal that, in turn, caused Congress to pull federal funds from the organization, ultimately leading to its bankruptcy and closure in 2010.

The Story You Didn't Know:

The video was a fake, set up by self-proclaimed investigative journalist and right-wing extremist James O'Keefe.

O'Keefe and the woman, Hannah Giles, weren't dressed like a pimp and ho when they entered the ACORN offices -- that was a bit of creative editing. Despite what the beginning of the video would indicate -- and what O'Keefe claimed in interviews -- he actually wore a shirt and tie, and Giles wore a dark blouse. The videos were filmed from O'Keefe's perspective, so you never saw them while they were in the ACORN offices.

Furthermore, the ACORN employees who proffered the most enthusiastic -- and illegal -- advice were only playing along. A counselor in San Diego, who was fired after the video showed him offering to help O'Keefe bring girls across the border from Mexico, was just humoring the maniac in front of him to get him to reveal more of his insane plan -- and then actually reported O'Keefe to the police afterward. Not surprisingly, that employee sued the shit out of the video makers, who had to fork over $100,000 to settle it.

Another employee in San Bernardino smelled bullshit the second the couple stepped in and decided to jokingly counter the couple's outrageous questions with lines that she murdered her husband and ran an escort service of her own. Of course, this was presented by O'Keefe as fact -- and later debunked by literally everyone else. Ultimately, the U.S. Government Accountability Office cleared ACORN of any wrongdoing. ACORN had already been closed down for several months at that point, so that was about as helpful a redemption as the murder suspect getting proven innocent two months after his date with the electric chair.

Roll Call/Getty Images
"If we can't trust shadily made Internet videos, what can we trust?"

#3. The Victims That Navy SEALs Rescued from Somali Pirates Had Intentionally Hung Out in Pirate Territory

Darren McCollester/Getty Images News/Getty Images

In 2009, pirate lovers everywhere realized just how badly Pirates of the Caribbean had lied to them when a highly publicized, real-life pirate attack took place off the coast of Somalia and it didn't look anything at all like the movie. It's way less sword fighting and way more AK-47s and kidnappings.

If you don't remember the incident, an American cargo ship called the Maersk Alabama was overtaken by four villainous Somali pirates. During the four-day ordeal, the captain of the cargo ship offered himself as a hostage and goddamn Navy SEAL snipers intervened by "sniping" three of the four pirates, rescuing Captain Richard Phillips in the process. For his part, Phillips wound up the hero, with Hollywood bigwigs immediately jumping at the chance to tell his story. In fact, he's such a hero that Tom freaking Hanks is going to play him in a movie called, you guessed it, Captain Phillips.

Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
"It took six months and $6 million to come up with that title."

The Story You Didn't Know:

According to the lawsuits filed by more than half of the crew of the Maersk Alabama, the whole adventure was kind of the captain's fault in the first place. Days before the attack, both the captain and the owners of the ship were warned to stay at least 600 miles off the coast of Somalia, because duh, pirates. Sailing near Somalia with a ship full of cargo was like sailing near Al Capone's house with a ship full of vodka -- it was a stupid invitation for a drunken shootout.

Darren McCollester/Getty Images News/Getty Images
"In hindsight, it may have been a mistake to paint 'Bring it, pussies!' in Somali on the side of the ship."

But in a move motivated by a Titanic-like insistence on being fast and making money, Captain Phillips got the Alabama within 250 miles of the Somali coast before he was predictably attacked. And in the first American piracy indictment in over a hundred years, the one surviving non-English-speaking Somali hijacker (a teenager who was stabbed and bound for 12 hours during the crisis) was sentenced to 33 years in prison.

Obviously no one's excusing piracy or being a teenager in a lawless, war-torn country, and nobody is saying the victim is to blame. We're just wondering if the part about Captain Hanks/Phillips willfully plowing into pirate territory is going to make it into the Hollywood treatment of the story.

"We cut it out to add a scene where I have to convince a pirate to let me pee."

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here


The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!