Leadership in a Crisis
The central message required from a leader in a crisis is one of control. Fear is reduced if people sense the leader is in control of the situation. If the leader conveys a failure to grasp reality, then fear will increase because one cannot have control without knowledge of the circumstances.
The gold standard for this leadership can be found in Winston Churchill's speeches and conduct shortly after he became prime minister in 1940.
Churchill, unlike Hitler, didn't make speeches indicating that victory was certain. He spoke of the challenges and conditions and acknowledged what needed to be done. Those admissions ["Wars are not won by evacuations."] increased his credibility. They boosted courage while reducing fear. He was not denying what people could see with their own eyes nor was he operating with a view of history that seemed more attuned to someone who has just fallen, as the expression goes, off the turnip truck.
Conveying a strong grasp of reality signals a strong sense of control and that, in turn, produces credibility. No reality or control = no credibility.
When that happens, people get very nervous.