Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

William Randolph's Hearse

"I'll Furnish the War"

Frederic Remington
Frederic Remington

In yet another instance of lurid and deliberately misleading sensationalism, the Journal reported that three American women departing Cuba were stripped naked, searched and groped by lecherous Spanish soldiers. The story was accompanied by a graphic illustration of a naked woman and sinister-looking soldiers leering at her. The truth, as the women themselves told it on their arrival back in America, was that they were searched by women in privacy, with male soldiers outside the room.

In the late 1890s Hearst sent renowned artist and illustrator Frederic Remington to Cuba to report on developments there. After a lengthy stay, Remington reported that Havana was quiet and peaceful and that there was no war going on. But, when Remington requested a return to the U.S., Hearst's response was reported to be, "Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war."

Battleship Maine
Battleship Maine

The opportunity to "furnish" that war came on February 15, 1898, when the American battleship Maine mysteriously exploded in Havana Harbor, killing over 200 American sailors. Although sabotage was never proven, the Hearst newspapers insisted it was and they called for war against Spain. In reporting the Maine incident, Hearst ordered all other stories off the front page, exploiting the tragedy with huge headlines and splashy illustrations of the ship exploding. The Spanish-American War began soon afterward and, by its end, Hearst's American dream of a global colonial empire was a reality.

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