Publication information
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Source: Pacific
Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Yellow Journalism”
Author(s): anonymous
Date of publication: 19 September 1901
Volume number: 51
Issue number: 38
Pagination: 4-5

“Yellow Journalism.” Pacific 19 Sept. 1901 v51n38: pp. 4-5.
full text
yellow journalism (impact on Czolgosz); Allan McLane Hamilton (public statements); Hearst newspapers; Johann Most (public statements); McKinley assassination (personal response: anarchists); New York Journal; William Randolph Hearst; yellow journalism.
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz; Allan McLane Hamilton [first name misspelled below]; Marcus Hanna; William Randolph Hearst; William McKinley; J. Pierpont Morgan; Johann Most [variant first name below].
Click here to view a New-York Tribune interview with Dr. Allan McLane Hamilton that includes the statement quoted below.


Yellow Journalism

     Wanton criticism of Presidents is no new thing. But only in these later years has it led to results so deplorable. Whether insane or an anarchist, there is unquestionably a connection between the shooting of William McKinley by Czolgosz and the defamations of the yellow journals. Says Dr. Allen McLane Hamilton, Professor of Mental Diseases in the medical college of Cornell University: “No one except a physician who sees much of insanity or persons whose mental condition is doubted can appreciate the influence of the present distorted public sense of decency. This is manifested by a lawlessness which finds expression in some of the public prints and in the deliberations of societies instituted for the relief of the oppressed. This literature and these societies are usually a menace to law and order in putting into the heads of half-cracked people pernicious ideas which they almost immediately act upon.” Dr. Hamilton says that there have come to his notice lately numerous cases of disturbed mental states which were due directly to such influences. Only a few weeks ago a man went to him with a number of newspaper clippings of an incendiary nature; and, after showing them, announced his intention of killing several prominent persons, among them being J. Pierpont Morgan and Senator Hanna.
     The Chicago Journal, in an editorial on “The Yellow Press and Anarchy,” says: “If what Hearst’s newspapers have said, printed and portrayed about President McKinley were true, he was not fit to live, much less to rule.  *  *  *  They could not have made more scandalous, more bitter or more degrading charges against the greatest scoundrel on earth.” And John Most, the leader of the anarchists, says to the police as he repudiates Czolgosz: “You wish to make this man one of us. Why don’t you read the New York Journal? Look at the caricatures on the last pages, where your President is portrayed in a way that would make even a bootblack ashamed.”
     What wonder, then, that Czolgosz should get it into his brain to put President McKinley out of the way, after reading the articles defaming him, either in the Hearst papers or in some other just as disreputable! It is with extreme sorrow that The Pacific sees the pernicious influence of such papers. It seems strange that a man of such life-long advantages as W. R. Hearst should give himself to that which is so generally regarded as one of the basest uses of talent and wealth. It is with astonishment that we compare what is said and printed in his papers since McKinley was stricken down with what was said and portrayed previous to that time. And all without any admission of previous mistake or injustice. In one of these papers it is said: “To William McKinley was intrusted [sic] the care of a nation, great, powerful, self-sufficient, free from dangers and turmoil. His duty was to guide the great machine honestly, cautiously, according to the will of the people. He did his duty and he died at his post.  *  *  *  His life was complete. The nation for which he worked he leaves powerful and prosperous.  *  *  *  He knew that in the land where millions had opposed and disagreed with him politically, not one was free from deep sorrow, not one but felt the national calamity as a personal loss.”
     But as we read there is constantly before the eyes that printed cartoon in which McKinley is pictured as applauding the trusts which are represented as riding down, in an automobile, the common people.
     In the presence of such journalism The Pacific can not remain silent. We dare not let it pass unnoticed and unrebuked. The San Francisco Call and The Bulletin have spoken plainly, but these are daily rivals of one of Hearst’s papers, and as such their utterances might be discounted in some circles. The readers of The Pacific will not question our motive nor discount what we say. The present writer, recognizing the great influence of the press, devoted himself at the close of his college life twenty years ago to journalism. We have no less an estimate today of that influence. It molds thought and life far more than most people are aware; and we tremble for the welfare of the nation when we think of some [4][5] of the hands into which it has fallen. We were glad to read in the newspapers of this city extracts from recent sermons by ministers, denouncing yellow journalism, but not one named any paper as such, and it is a singular fact that some of those denunciations were printed in the very paper at which they were hurled. It would seem that there are publishers whose moral judgments are so conditioned that they are unaware of the fact that they are issuing such pernicious papers. Or else, in the hour when the thunder and lightning of wrath is playing, they seek by the publication of the denunciatory utterances to protect themselves from its strokes.
     Let us hope that in this experience yellow journalism may receive a lesson which will tend to its profit and purification.



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