From December 8, 1982 through December 9, 1982, Norman Mayer held the United States of America hostage with a white van, a black motorcycle helmet, a bright blue snowsuit, and a remote control.
The networks had non-stop coverage, which consisted of frequent long shots of a white van sitting in front of the Washington Monument, which Norman Mayer had threatened to blow up. These days it would have been a six line story somewhere at the bottom of the CNN website.
Norman Mayer was an anti-nuclear weapons activist with a long record of run-ins with the law, mostly on drug possession charges. He was a sixty-six year old former drifter who had decided to focus all his energies on actively protesting nuclear weapons during the golden years of his life. He was known to have tried to buy explosives, something he failed to accomplish, and was frequently seen in front of The White House loudly trying to bring attention to his cause. Not getting as much attention as he liked, he decided he would make a big splash by threatening to blow up the Washington Monument. Using explosives to protest explosives is sort of like... well, you know.
He claimed to have a thousands pounds of TNT in the van, which probably could have been shown to be false if anyone had closely looked at the van's suspension. He held eight tourists hostage inside the monument, but later changed his mind about that and let them go. He would sit in the van, but occasionally would get out and walk around in his motorcycle helmet and blue snowsuit waving his remote control around in a threatening manner.
America remained tuned in to this program for ten hours. We could not look away. This was cause for concern. America was being held hostage. Some guy in a bright blue snowmobile suit was going to blow up the Washington Monument.
Norman Mayer changed his mind again. Time was ticking and no one was making a move. He didn't really have any explosives so it was time for Plan B. His new plan was to drive around downtown Washington, D.C. and become a "moving time bomb." Park Police at the Washington Monument took shots at the van as he went off into the next phase of his plan. They claimed to be trying to shoot out the tires and the engine, but they managed to take out Norman Mayer instead.
What we watched for ten hours without pause in 1982 wouldn't keep our attention for more than thirty seconds today. Today's terrorists could learn a thing or two from Norman's choice of the bright blue snowsuit and effective use of a television remote control.