The Press: I'll Furnish the War

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When Hearst Artist Frederic Remington, cabled from Cuba in 1897 that "there will be no war," William Randolph Hearst cabled back: "You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war." Last week the aging (84) Lord of San Simeon was out to prove that his hand had not lost its touch. This time it was not Spain but Russia on which Hearst had declared war,

Hearst Columnist Walter Winchell pulled the first trigger. In a broadcast and syndicated column, he fulminated: "The Third World War is already being fought. . . . We are losing it. ... When the Communists are ready . . . there will be 50 Pearl Harbors . . . atomic explosions erasing our cities. . . . The Communists have germ warfare already. . . . The cholera plague in Egypt is suspected abroad of being a Soviet experiment.*. . . The next countries [the Russians] intend to grab are Italy and France. . . . They need France as a base to attack Great Britain, . . . American diplomats inside the curtain are under Russian guard day & night. . . . Trained Communist spies are among us locating targets for the sneak attack. . . . We must start rearming now. . . ."

The "Chief," who has not always seen eye to eye with Winchell, nodded his approval. Hearst sent a "letter" to his managing editors instructing them on a significant change in the treatment of Russian news. Wrote Hearst: "We no longer have to give so much space to Russia [or] to the probable destructive attack upon our nation by Russia. The thing of importance now, is ... the plan of universal military service. . .. Every American must be a soldier ready ... to defend [the U.S.] from annihilation. . . . The President must call Congress to deal promptly with this vital question."

Hearst papers from Los Angeles to New York dutifully front-paged the "Chief's" letter, dutifully began to crank out "news" stories to comply. In Los Angeles, the Examiner sent reporters scurrying after statements from the mayor, lesser city officials and ward politicians (top frontpage headline: UNIVERSAL TRAINING ACTION DEMANDED BY L.A. LEADERS).

At week's end, the Examiner showed that it could not only make news; if necessary, it could also ignore it. When eight British Labor M.P.s had a chat with Stalin (see INTERNATIONAL), the Los Angeles Times headlined: NO THOUGHT OF MAKING WAR—STALIN. The Examiner didn't think it worth mentioning.

*Next day PM's Albert Deutsch asked U.N. World Health Organization officials. Their verdict: "The means of propagating cholera make it absolutely unfit as a weapon of bacterial warfare." The Associated Press reported that Russia was sending anti-cholera serum to Egypt.