"The Greatest Show on Earth" (02:57)
In 1937, William Randolph Hearst threw himself a circus themed birthday party at the home of his mistress Marion Davies. He was the most powerful and controversial media tycoon in the world.
New York City, 1885 (03:29)
At age 22, Hearst was a senior at Harvard who loved the night life. Newspaper Row was one of the busiest places in the city; papers were published several times a day.
Business Editor at "Harvard Lampoon" (03:14)
Hearst was notorious at Harvard. He had an entourage, apartments, and wealth. He made the school paper profitable by selling ads and increased circulation by 50%.
George Hearst (02:41)
After his expulsion from Harvard, Hearst's father, a mining entrepreneur, put him to work in the family business in Butte, Montana. He had become successful with a silver mine during the Gold Rush.
Phoebe Apperson (02:38)
Hearst was born in San Francisco in 1863, ten months after his parents married. George Hearst went back to mining country as soon as his son was born. He was left with a nanny while his mother traveled and she spoiled him when she was home.
"The Examiner" (04:27)
Hearst rarely saw his father and had an emotional intimacy with his mother. The Hearsts became one of the richest families in the U.S. George bought a San Francisco newspaper and was elected to the Senate.
"Monarch of the Dailies" (03:30)
Hearst took over his father's newspaper in 1887 at age 24; he was arrested for libel within two weeks. His main competitors were "The Chronicle" and "The Call." Hearst was willing to pay well for the best writers and editors.
"There is No Substitute for Circulation" (03:07)
Hearst wrote many headlines and reviewed all copy. He was constantly thinking about how to attract people to "The Examiner." Hearst's promotions included stunts like catching a bear.
Racism in "The Examiner" (02:23)
Hearst was a staunch democrat; white supremacy was a core principle of the part. In 1890, he targeted Asians in California and encouraged racial discontent through his newspaper.
Tessie Powers (04:13)
As Hearst became more successful, he spent more money in his quest to gain attention. He moved to Sausalito and threw lavish parties. His mother stopped him from marrying showgirls; she did not want him to be an alcoholic and irresponsible spender like his father.
Control of Hearst Estate (03:55)
George Hearst died in 1891 and left his fortune to his wife. His only son and heir was left with no income of his own. He split with Powers to get the loan he needed from his mother to buy another newspaper.
New York City, 1895 (04:07)
Hearst did not to use the introductions made by his mother to penetrate the city's social elite. Hearst set his sights on overtaking "The New York World."
Joseph Pulitzer (02:51)
Pulitzer was one of the richest men in the country and employed the biggest news staff in the world. "The New York World" was focused on the interest of the city's immigrant population.
"The Morning Journal" (05:14)
Hearst bought a small newspaper to enter the New York City media market. He poached the best reporters, writers, and editors from Pulitzer. "The Yellow Kid" resonated with the public.
Capitalistic Gilded Age (03:49)
Monopolies at the end of the 19th century were known as "the trusts." Hearst was outraged at the corruption in New York City. He had taken on the Southern Pacific Railroad in California.
Working Class Struggle (02:50)
"The Morning Journal" promoted the idea that the state should fix problems affecting the masses. Tapping into the outrage of regular people increased circulation of Hearst's newspaper.
Millicent Wilson (02:25)
Hearst met the vaudeville dancer in Manhattan's Tenderloin district. She and her sister performed in provocative musical comedies.
"The Morning Journal" - 1897 (05:08)
Circulation of Hearst's sensationalist newspaper rose so steadily that Pulitzer was convinced he had a spy in "The New York World" newsroom. Hearst increased the ratio of crime stories and dispatched reporters to investigate with police.
Havana, 1897 (03:31)
Hearst capitalized on the Cuban rebellion against Spanish colonial rule. His correspondents in Cuba wrote exaggerated and entertaining stories. Evangelina Cisneros had been imprisoned without a trial.
U.S.S. Maine (03:12)
On February 15, 1898, a battleship exploded off the coast of Havana killing 266 American sailors. Hearst took the opportunity to stir up anger towards Spain by printing sensational lies. He and Pulitzer were dubbed "Yellow Kid Journalists."
Declaration of War on Spain (02:57)
"The Morning Journal" denounced President William McKinley as weak and indecisive. Hearst took credit for the war that began on April 20, 1898. He patrolled the coast of Cuba in his yacht as a war correspondent.
Hearst printed the first million copy newspaper in American history. In the 1890s, newspapers were sold by poor or orphaned children. Newsboys went on strike over the wholesale price of papers.
Newsboys' Union (03:53)
Competitors of Hearst and Pulitzer championed the cause of "newsies" in their newspapers. After daily circulation plummeted, the publishers agreed to buy back unsold papers.
Hearst's Political Career (05:12)
Hearst was elected to Congress in 1902. He bought "The Chicago American" and the "Chicago Examiner" to promote himself and ran for the Democratic nominee for president. He ran for Mayor of New York City as a third-party candidate.
Third Party Mayoral Platform (05:06)
Hearst ran on issues that would take all the money from Tammany Hall, the most notorious democratic political organization in New York. "The Machine" ran the city for decades by exploiting the poor.
Publisher Blamed for McKinley Assassination (05:41)
Once Hearst began his gubernatorial campaign, his rivals publicly attacked him. President Theodore Roosevelt denounced Hearst as evil.
Expanding Media Empire (03:32)
Hearst exhausted himself running papers on both coasts and two in Chicago. His mother and wife felt he was taking on too much. By 1909, he bought four more newspapers and multiple magazines.
Phoebe Apperson Hearst's Legacy (07:58)
Hearst paid tribute to Pulitzer upon his death in 1911. On the brink of WWI, Hearst controlled the world's first media empire, but was not turning a profit. He continued borrowing money from his mother until she died in 1919.
Credits: Citizen Hearst: Part 1 (01:29)
Credits: Citizen Hearst: Part 1
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