Press: Second Sacking

Robert Patterson has always been a reporter of some mystery. In his first stint on the San Francisco Examiner, he wrote a successful column under the pseudonym of Freddie Francisco. Trouble was, his record of past convictions (theft, attempted forgery) came to light, and the elder William Randolph Hearst fired him in 1949. Patterson drifted into ghostwriting and two more prison terms (bad checks, forgery) before the Examiner took him back in 1965. Now 65, he is unemployed again because of a trip to China that possibly never took place.

Patterson covered China in the 1930s. Last spring, from Hong Kong,...