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Hearst’s War, 1897

William Randolph Hearst, owner of the New York Journal, had a reputation for never letting truth get in the way of a good story. According to one famous tale, when hostilities broke out between the Spanish and the Cubans, Hearst sent the illustrator Frederic Remington to Cuba to draw pictures of the conflict. Finding that not much was happening, Remington cabled Hearst in January 1897: "Everything is quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war. I wish to return."

Supposedly Hearst cabled back: "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."

It is doubtful Hearst ever sent such a telegram. The first report of it appeared in a 1901 book, On the Great Highway, by journalist James Creelman. Creelman was in Europe at the time the telegram was supposedly sent, so he either heard the story second-hand or invented it himself. Since he was known for exaggeration, the latter is likely. Hearst himself denied having sent such a telegram.

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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.