Stroke of the Rattlesnake
AFTER waiting two weeks for a lull in the storm of
public indignation that burst out against him upon the assassination
of the President, whom he had reviled and vilified day after day
for years, William R. Hearst on Sunday struck back at the public
that condemns him. He notes that “funerals, even the saddest,” pass,
and he evidently indulges the delusion that indignation has passed
with it. It is clearly the belief of Hearst that since the President
has been buried no one will any longer recall the villainous and
criminal attacks made upon him, and so Hearst feels it safe to resume.
He is himself again. Once more as venomous, false and egotistical
Hearst divides the public that condemns
him into two classes—the predatory rich and their organs, and the
dull incapables of journalism and of life. He says of the indignation
of the public: “It is the revenge which inferiority takes in solacing
compensation upon superiority.”
Such is the view Hearst takes of the
situation. The press of the country, presidents of universities,
the most eminent of the clergy, Archbishops and Cardinals, Judges,
representatives of the commercial and industrial organizations of
the country, are, in the estimation of this moral idiot, subject
to an infuriating envy and jealousy of his superiority. An egotism
of that kind can hardly be stung by anything less physical than
a horsewhip, yet it is likely to be made to suffer by other means.
Public condemnation may not sting it, but a withdrawal of public
patronage will force it to silence.
It is the claim of Hearst that he
has used his papers to fight for the people against greed and class
privilege, but the people do not admit the claim. He denounces “the
press that lives on subsidies and on alms,” but the public is aware
that his own organ, the Examiner, was subsidized by the Southern
Pacific Company and continued to draw the subsidy month after month
until Huntington refused to pay it any further. That the Examiner
is not on the payrolls of the Southern Pacific and perhaps of other
corporations to-day is due solely to the fact that the subsidies
are no longer to be obtained, either by solicitation or by extortion.
The public at this time, however,
is not interested in Hearst’s relations to corporations, to the
predatory rich or to those whom he regards as incapables envious
of his superiority. The question to which an answer is wanted now
is that involved in the universal charge that Hearst is directly
responsible for promoting a hatred of the Government and of the
prosperous, thus breeding anarchists and encouraging the cowardly
but vindictive spirit that prompted the assassination of the President.
Public opinion charges Hearst with
having a responsible part in the crime of Czolgosz by the publication
of lies deliberately invented for the purpose of exciting a vindictive
spirit against the President. To that charge Hearst is called upon
to answer. The questions put to him are these:
Did you not lie when you said of McKinley:
“He has made the White House the headquarters of a corrupt trust
lobby. He has made the White House the stronghold of tariff jobbery.
It is notorious that he has mortgaged and sold the highest offices
in his gift”?
Did you not lie when you said the
President was “an obedient jellyfish”—“an abject, weak, futile,
incompetent poltroon”? Did you not lie when you said “McKinley and
the Wall street Cabinet are ready to surrender every particle of
national honor and dignity”? Was it not a lie when you said of the
Philippines and Porto Rico: “William McKinley is ruling them with
an arbitrary disregard of law that George III never dared to exhibit
Did you not lie when you said: “And
McKinley—bar one girthy Princeton person, who came to be no more,
no less, than a living crime in breeches—is, therefore, the most
despised and hated creature in the hemisphere. His name is hooted;
his figure burned in effigy”?
Did you not lie when in a grotesque
caricature you represented Theodore Roosevelt with a face like a
baboon shouting out: “I am brave. I believe in shooting. I shot
a Spaniard in the back”? Was it not a lie when you said: “Mark Hanna,
acting for McKinley, will increase the army, and if occasion arise
use it against the organized labor which he so much detests”?
Have you not also made use of lies
in attacking every one against whom your malice or your egotism
felt aggrieved? Was it not a lie which you published in this city
but a short time ago when you charged Chairman Symmes of the executive
committee of the Employers’ Association with saying: “If by reason
of a struggle we are making on a principle and in defense of individual
liberty of action, the grain crop can’t be moved, let it rot”?
Was it not a lie when you charged
Chief Sullivan with saying to the police: “I am dissatisfied with
the conduct of you men toward the strikers. * *
* The strikers must be driven off the streets.
* * * Drive them to their
homes and see that they are kept there. * * *
Let me impress this order upon you: Keep the streets
clear of union men”? Was not that a lie?
Were you not lying when you said:
“Levi Strauss & Co. are feeling the effect of the boycott levied
against it by the organized labor of San Francisco. Workingmen are
refusing to buy overalls manufactured by a firm pledged to stifle
unionism. Four hundred of the 800 girls employed by the big Fremont-street
factory were yesterday laid off”? Was not the lie published maliciously,
and for the purpose of inciting further boycotts and causing further
harm to California’s industries?
To what class of people have all of
these lies day after day been addressed? Did you think intelligent
men would believe them, that good men would tolerate them, or that
patriotic men would be influenced by them? Is it not a fact that
they were deliberately devised to affect the minds of the ignorant,
the vile and the vicious? Was it not your intention to excite that
class of men to whatever course of action their cunning, their malice
and their brutality would suggest to them? Was it not your intention
to incite against President McKinley just the class of which Czolgosz
is a type in order that they might commit just the crime that Czolgosz
These are the questions you are to
answer at the bar of public opinion. Your offenses of the kind have
been many. You have assailed not only individuals but whole communities
and Government itself. The people of this city have not forgotten
the hideous, grewsome, loathsome page of pictures and rhetoric which
you published for the purpose of representing San Francisco as the
seat of the bubonic plague.
Why was that lie published?
Have all these vicious utterances
been but an idiot’s tale full of froth and fury, signifying nothing,
or have they been the malicious incitements of a malignant egotist
enraged against society and government because his “superiority”
is not recognized?
You say the Examiner is “An American
newspaper for Americans,” and you ask: “Has it assailed the church?
Has it antagonized any reform movement, or hurt at any time any
legitimate business interest?”
To those questions you get your answer
in the condemnation pronounced upon you at this very time by the
clergy of all churches, the worthy leaders of every earnest effort
at reform, by farmers, merchants, manufacturers and workingmen—in
short, by representatives of every church, every reform and every
legitimate business interest. You have hurt them all to the full
extent of your cowardly malice. You are at this very time doing
your best to stop the course of industry in California. The crops
of the farmers are exposed to ruin, merchants are losing trade,
great factories are hampered in their work and labor is being brought
every day nearer and nearer to destitution by your incitements.
You say you have fought for the people
“with more varied weapons, with more force and talent and enthusiasm
than any other newspaper in the country.” The files of each of your
papers give the lie to that statement. Your variety of weapons has
been but a variety of falsehoods. You have faked interviews misrepresenting
honest men, you have garbled letters and speeches, you have suppressed
news. Yesterday you misrepresented the memorial services of the
Knights of Pythias, and suppressed the vigorous words of the orator
who denounced you and said: “Too long have we been afflicted with
the loathsome disease of yellow journalism, poisoning the minds
of our children and breeding crime in the hearts of the people.”
You have forged telegrams, you have devised lie after lie, in season
and out of season, and you have given the largest space in your
papers and the largest type available to your journalism to displaying
the worst and meanest of your lies.
You claim to be a champion of free
speech, yet you have degraded journalism to the slums, and for liberty
have substituted the prostituted license of slander, malice, vice
You have encouraged every industrial
disturbance that has occurred at any place within reach of your
influence. You have aided agitators and demagogues in forcing strikes
upon industrious workingmen who do not wish to strike. You have
incited the lawless to take advantage of such disturbances to assault
honest and peaceable workingmen on their way to or from their work.
You have stirred up in the minds and the hearts of ruffians the
kind of courage that has led them to the commission of robbery,
arson and murder.
Such are the charges the public, through
the press, the pulpit, the forum and the councils of representative
business men, have made against Hearst, but it is not expected that
he will answer them. Whatever retort he makes will be the venomous
stroke of a rattlesnake. He will defend his former lies by new lies.
The public is aware of the tactics he will pursue, for his character
is not unknown. He has not lived his life in a corner, nor has the
darkness of his ways and the depravity of his habits concealed him
wholly from the public. He is a known and despised man, an exile
from his home, an outcast from society, shunned by the decent and
scorned by the good, the prodigal associate and patron of the vilest
of men and women, supporting out of his inherited wealth blackmailers
on the one hand and strumpets on the other, a discredit to his profession,
a disgrace to his State, a sore upon his party, a foe to law, order
and industry, a demagogue and a coward, a slanderer of virtue and
a defamer of dignity. Rotten in body and in heart, with an educated
delight in debauchery and lying, he has made himself a cause of
folly among the ignorant and of crime among the vicious. Preaching
a creed of hatred which the pariahs of the slums would not accept,
and practicing personal vices which Czolgosz would not commit, he
stands doubly dyed in infamy as a corrupter of morals and a teacher
of anarchy, and is thus abhorrent alike to religion and to law,
an offense to society and a menace to the republic.
It matters little what the brazen
impudence overriding the cowardice of the man may enable him from
his retreat to say in vilification of the public that has judged
and condemned him. The end of his career is at hand.