William Randolph Hearst

Posted on December 22, 2012


”As William Randolph Hearst  – the newspaper baron – instructed his photographers. ‘You provide the pictures. I’ll provide the war.’ I’ve just taken it one step further.”
This is what mass media maniac Elliot Carver of “Tomorrow Never Dies” tells Bond when his plans unfold. So, William Randolph Hearst – who was he?
William Randolph Hearst was the great tycoon of US mass media for the first half of the 20th century. Not only was he a successful publisher owning and managing the largest newspaper chain in the US, he also had a political career as a member of the US House of Representatives as a democrat, 1903-1907. Twice he ran and lost for New York Mayor. Born in 1863, he acquired the The San Francisco Examiner from his father.
That was his first newspaper and many more were to come, such as the New York Morning Journal, Chicago Examiner, Washington Times etc. He bought and ran newspapers in about 30 major cities in the US during his prominent career, making quite a few enemies along the way. Critique against Randolph addresses his use (and perhaps invention of) the so-called Yellow Journalism, a term used for a foul method to obtain sensational news. It meant that Hearst ”routinely invented sensational stories, faked interviews, ran phony pictures and distorted real events” (as put by Lee Solomon Unreliable Sources 1990).

Hearst married Millicent Wilson with whom he had five children with. They stayed married until his death but he openly had a relationship with actress Marion Davis in California from 1919.

The main character in the Orson Welles film ”Citizen Kane” (ranked by many as the best film ever made) is somewhat based on Hearst. He actually did his best to stop the picture from being released. The box office numbers of “Citizen Kane” suffered heavily from Hearst’s influence on US cinema.

Hearst died in 1951 aged 88, in Beverly Hills, California.

As for the quote in “Tomorrow Never Dies“:
It is actually “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”
It comes from a telegram from Hearst sent to his illustrator Remington in Cuba. Hearst thought that USA should be involved in the Cuban struggle to fight their Spanish rulers. His newspapers were used to raise public opinion on his stand on this matter. Therefore Hearst sent some of his best employees to Cuba to report back about the coming turmoil.
When Remington became bored and requested to go home as his cable read “Everything quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war. Wish to return.”
Hearst then replied with the famous “You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.”  It was on January 25th 1898.

Hearst as always had his way, following an incident where a ship of the US Navy exploded in Havana Harbour, the United States were soon at war with Spain. USA won this conflict, known as the Spanish-American War, before long thus gaining more power in international politics as a superpower to be. Naturally the war had the exact opposite effect on Spain.

More on this here (by Ian C. Friedman)

To read more about W.R Hearst pick up Ben Proctor’s biography in two volumes released in 1998 and 2007.