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Major spoilers for the Watchmen graphic novel!

In Issue 11,

Ozymandias

explains that they created a creature, referred to by fans as "the squid" in order to stage an alien invasion. In the next issue, we see that the news media, without prompting from the perpetrator, came to this same conclusion.

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Relevant parts are:

Have we been invaded? […] Implausible as it seems we cannot dismiss the possibility of […] alien contact or […] Are we looking at an alien invasion? Things from another dimension?

While there is some uncertainty, it definitely seems like the news media is settling on the idea that this is either an alien or an extra-dimensional being, and that it is the start of an invasion.

What led them to this conclusion mere minutes after the event? It seems to me like there are other equally plausible options, given the limited information:

  • It was a cruel hoax being propagated by a single network (after all, it was only a few minutes after midnight local time. How many news teams from different networks could have made it to ground zero to corroborate that there was a dead squid?)
  • It was created by a mad scientist on Earth
  • It's a new super-human being in the same vein as Dr. Manhattan
  • It was sent by the Soviets and the offer for aid is an attempt to deflect blame from themselves (possibly because they intended for it to arrive alive and launch a killing spree)
  • It was created by a rogue nation or terrorist group
  • It's a lifeform not from this earth that tried to arrive peacefully but had a transporter malfunction that killed it (imagine if Captain Kirk was scrambled when he beamed down to a new planet for a first contact. "What we got back didn't live long")

Given these alternate explanations, why did the news media immediately come to the conclusion that the squid was an alien invasion? While this is the conclusion the perpetrator intended, I don't see any evidence that they influenced the media here.

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    Its a long time since I read this and I don't have my copy to hand but wasn't there a reference to a modified brain that was installed in the squid that sent out telepathic waves? The intention was to highlight the "alienness" of the squid. One of the news reports described it as like a wasp "stinging reflexively on death". Wasn't it these telepathic waves that killed millions and not just the landing of the squid in the city centre? If someone could corroborate this it would be useful. – dominic fonde Oct 5 '17 at 3:01
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    @dominicfonde Most of what we know about the squid comes from Viedt, which isn’t common knowledge. Still, it being alien (strange) doesn’t necessarily imply alien (extraterrestrial), which is my confusion. I mean, it could theoretical be a secret government psionic project. – Thunderforge Oct 5 '17 at 4:15
  • I think the joke here is that despite the elaborate plan by Ozymandias, which even partly succeeded, it's all going to unearth thanks to Rorschach's journal. Also note Dr. Manhattan's last words: "It never ends, Adrian". – Gallifreyan Oct 7 '17 at 12:12
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The devil is in the details, and Ozymandias planned this well.

There are several establishing shots of the surrounding area, both before and after the "squid" impact, that show it materialized on top of and within a building labelled "dimensional research facility".

I also submit the highly likely speculation that this building was one of those labs that were part of the investigation into science uncovered by Manhattan's powers, and (slightly less likely, but naturally concluded to my mind) thus already on the radar as the media investigated Manhattan's cancer scare as well.

Given a majority of citizens in the area were dead, it's not like anyone inside or nearby could give a firsthand report as to what happened. If the media is already aware of the building and it's operations however, it would be easy to find reports inside, and even easier to control what those reports said about what was done, and to reach the conclusions that he wanted them to reach.

All this on top of more basic manipulations - he couldn't directly plant stories without giving the ploy away, but since he controls large portions of the media, the subtle engineering of public perception could have planted that idea long since.

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My understanding of it is that a) the evidence is clear enough that it's real because multiple news networks have the scoops and b) Ozymandias probably engineered it that way, with "leaks" and "anonymous informants" feeding in info about alien invasions, possible weeks, months, or years in advance so that when the incident happened, people would fall the right way.

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