Yellow Journalism has a specific definition meaning and history. According to Britannica.com,
Yellow Journalism is the use of lurid features and sensationalized news in newspaper publishing to attract readers and increase circulation. The phrase was coined in the 1890s to describe the tactics employed in the furious competition between two New York City newspapers, the World and the Journal.
Joseph Pulitzer had purchased the New York World in 1883 and, using colourful, sensational reporting and crusades against political corruption and social injustice, had won the largest newspaper circulation in the country. His supremacy was challenged in 1895 when William Randolph Hearst, the son of a California mining tycoon, moved into New York City and bought the rival Journal.
Both Pulitzer and Hearst ran sensationalized stories with dubious facts. Pulitzer’s paper ran a cartoon featuring a character named, the Yellow Kid. Hearst hired away the cartoonist to his paper and Pulitzer hired a replacement. The competition between these same characters in the two papers gives us the actual root to the term yellow journalism.
So convinced was Hearst of his ability to manipulate opinion that this quote still stands loud today, occurring just prior to the Spanish-American War.
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.”
As many know, newspapers and media don’t really shift or express actual public opinion. But politicians tend to think they do and thus are the real target of yellow journalism both then and now.
We generally consider that yellow journalism’s use today is as a revenue driver. Click bait titles and loosely-researched or fully fabricated facts are presented as gospel to drag eyeballs in front of ads. That is still true. But with the power of the Internet and social media Goliaths, the practice has taken on a more sinister form of actually manipulating the opinions of people who lack analytical skills. And thus we see the practices of yellow journalism happily adopted by propagandists.
Certainly propaganda outfits like FOX, OAN, Breitbart, Newsmax and others even lower on the honesty scale are profit driven. But their work as propagandists and mouthpieces of foreign influence has become blatantly obvious.
And now we come to what prompted this piece in the first place. Yesterday on his show Tucker Carlson made the following statement:
“We’re spending all this money to liberate Ukraine from the Russians, why are we not sending an armed force north to liberate Canada from Trudeau? And, I mean it.”
The parallel to Hearst’s gleeful promotion of a war should not be lost on us.
We can view Carlson, Hannity, Pirro, Ingraham and other FOX mouthpieces as being in the service of outside influences (Putin) inimical to the interests of the United States, and Canada. That’s pretty obvious. But at the same time, they are protected by the same First Amendment that they seek to undermine. Where they cross a line is in the promotion of violence and war. This is a potentially controversial opinion, which is why this piece is labeled as an opinion piece.
What may not be apparent to these people is that they too still have a—deeply buried—shred of humanity and sooner or later this humanity will come back to haunt them. It certainly did with Pulitzer and Hearst.
Both publishers ran separate columns months apart that suggested the assassination of President William McKinley. When McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901, there was a change in both men. Pulitzer shifted his publication back to fact-based journalism with the World becoming a highly respected paper at the time of his death ten years later. Hearst abandoned his burgeoning political ambitions and was haunted for the remainder of his life by the worry that the death of McKinley may have been a result of his work.
Deep down all men are basically good. Sometimes the reminders of this fact are late in arriving. That definitely seems to be the case with today’s brand of yellow journalists.
Marty Kassowitz is co-founder of Factkeepers. As founder of Interest Factory and View360, he brings more than 30 years experience in effective online communications, social media management, and platform development to the site. He is a writer, designer, editor and long time observer of the ill-logic demonstrated by too many members of the species known as Mankind. After a long history of somewhat private commentary on a subject he totally hates: politics, Marty was encouraged to build this site and put up his own analyses as well as curate relevant content from other sources.