....you whippersnapper!....get off your own lawn!....No it didn't come out of nowhere. You made your joke and that just showed how our thinking nowadays is. We joke. in general. Not everyone, but it's a more laid back and educated world out there today.
I think he was just saying that back in the day, that story horrified people. No one was making a joke about this story. Or looking for the joke. It was about 10 years after Orson Welles scared the holy hell out of a very naive society that aliens were landing in his War of the Worlds radio broadcast.