Publication information
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Source: Life
Source type: magazine
Document type: drama
Document title: “The Power of the Press”
Author(s): Masson, Tom
Date of publication:
26 September 1901
Volume number: 38
Issue number: 986
Pagination: 247-49

Masson, Tom. “The Power of the Press.” Life 26 Sept. 1901 v38n986: pp. 247-49.
full text
yellow journalism; James Gordon Bennett; Paul Dana; Whitelaw Reid; E. L. Godkin; William Randolph Hearst.
Named persons
James Gordon Bennett; Paul Dana; E. L. Godkin; William Randolph Hearst; George H. Hepworth; Whitelaw Reid.
This drama is accompanied by illustrations of individuals as follows: James Gordon Bennett (p. 248), Paul Dana (p. 248), Whitelaw Reid (p. 249), and William Randolph Hearst (p. 249).


The Power of the Press



Behold in us the Octopus of mental stimulation,
A world of sin we dabble in for mankind’s delectation,
And we tell in full, while you hold your breath,
Of battle, and murder, and sudden death.
The truth we grip (or skip) with typographical fecundity,
And spread the sad, and mad, and glad, with equalized profundity.
And for us, since the matrix had its birth,
There’s naught that’s sacred in heaven and earth!


               You see in me
               A prodigy
     Of intellectual valor!
               I lie between
               The red and green,
     And I’m somewhat on the “yaller.”

James Gordon Bennett I, of international renown
And of able journalistic perspicuity,
     Which is this and nothing more:
     To print cablegrams galore
And surround them with an absolute vacuity!

In Paris I make my abode, because I find it pays,
In disbursing so much printed imbecility,
     At a distance for to be—
     I can cable them, you see,
Which is better than a localized agility. [247][248]


To distribute imbecility requires world-wide
           agility, so this man of great renown
And enormous perspicuity creates a vast
           vacuity by not dwelling in this town!


          The stars shine bright
          In the stilly night,
And they’re winking at the world in arrant fun,
          But we never, never care
          For their silly twinkling stare—
It’s so so when you see it in The Sun!

          When the planets turn
          There is much to learn.
There are truths untold within the spectrum’s glow;
          Yet this scientific fact
          Is at present quite intact:
When you see it in The Sun, it isn’t so!


I’m a colorless concoction of a type that is ubiquitous;
     My shade is neither yellow nor true blue,
And even to refer to me as something quite iniquitous
     Is something no one ever thinks to do.

When I first put this uniform on,
     I remarked, as I looked in the glass,
“It’s my highest ambition to obtain a position
     Which is never, never, never, never crass!”

I’m the cultivated offspring of immense superiority,
     With an education much above a clam.
In a strenuous endeavor I have toiled since my minority,
     Yet no one seems to know just who I am!

When I first put this uniform on,
     I remarked, as I gazed long at it,
“How much, through digestion, I may swell is a question,
     But these shoes’ll never, never, never fit!”


He’s a colorless descendent of immense superiority,
With a modicum of intellect and wit.
     But he strives, Alack! Alas!
     Never, never to be crass,
And his shoes’ll never, never, never fit!


               My tale is soon told.
               ’Tis a story that’s old,
     To be sung without any evasion.
               So allow me to say,
               In a casual way,
     I’m seeking a good situation.

               I’ve written enough
               Political stuff
     To expect some pronounced compensation.
               No tidbit would be
               Really relished by me.
     I’m seeking a good situation.

               To Paris I went
               With the peaceful intent
     Of outdoing the whole Spanish nation.
               But the job was too small—
               Didn’t suit me at all—
     What I want in a good situation!


I’m a spectre pessimistical and highly ego-
          tistical, and ever since from here I
          made my flight, [248][249]
And grimly took to rubbering, I always
          fall to blubbering when I reflect that
          nothing can be right.

               For the gist of my song
                    I would have you know:
               The world is all wrong,
                    And I told you so!

On every hand monstrosities, increasing
          their velocities, are gaining on true
          ethics day and night.
There’s nothing left but vanity and no hope
          for humanity. I’m thoroughly con-
          vinced there’s nothing right!


     I am edified immensely,
          From my yellow eminence,
          To observe this deference,
     For it pleases me intensely.

     It’s extremely gratifying,
          From a checkered crowd like you,
          To receive the homage due.
     Yes, it’s more than satisfying.

You may dabble in dirt and mendacity
     And emulate methods infernal,
And yet, though you strain your capacity,
     You can never come up to my Journal!

               With a strenuous zest
               You may do your best
     To picture all sorts of excresences,
               But of mixtures designed
               To make morbid the mind,
     Why, mine are the only true essences!

     And it’s soothing indeed to my nerve
          To observe, as with envy you burst,
     Though the gods of the gutter you serve,
          You’re aware there is only one Hearst!


When it comes to the worst, there is only one Hearst
     Whose methods are truly infernal,
And whatever capacity you have for mendacity,
     It is nothing compared with the Journal!


To the furthermost ends of the whirling world
Our golden banners are now unfurled,
And every hour, with a lightning speed,
We’re spreading what he who runs may read.
Here’s Ho! for the sound of the presses’ roar
That ripples to many an alien shore,
With its story of murder, and guilt, and woe,
And things unhealthy that are not so.
Here’s Ho! for the Truth, that sickens and pines
And dies unnoticed between the lines.
And the Lies that flourish in joy or stress!
                    With our voices strong
                    We lift our song!
Here’s Ho! for the trail of the Yellow Press!




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