In a battle for readers, two media barons sparked a war in the 1890s

As U.S.-Spain tensions soared, Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst didn’t let the facts spoil a good story.

Political cartoons mocked Joseph Pulitzer (left) and William Randolph Hearst (right) in 1898.
Photograph by LIBRARY OF CONGRESS/DAGLI ORTI/AURIMAGES

It is arguably the most celebrated anecdote in the history of American journalism. Sometime in early 1897, as the story goes, artist-correspondent Frederic Remington found himself in Cuba working for the New York Journal. The famous painter of bucking broncos and other Wild West scenes was on assignment for the newspaper’s owner, William Randolph Hearst, in anticipation of hostilities with Spain.

“There is no trouble here,” the bored Remington informed Hearst by telegram. “There will be no war. I wish to return.”

Hearst fired back, “Please remain. You furnish the pictures, and I’ll furnish the war.”

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