The Love Triangle, Murder and Missing Head that Sparked a Tabloid War

Friday, July 22, 2011


In the summer of 1897 the story of a dismembered body and a sordid love triangle wasn't likely to dominate the papers.  But William Randolph Hearst saw the story as an opportunity for his newly launched New York Evening Journal to beat out its major competition, Joseph Pulitzer's New York World, and a tabloid war ensued.  Bob spoke with Paul Collins, author of The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars.  He says that in their quest to cover the story, the papers employed tactics reminiscent of today's News of the World phone hacking scandal.

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Comments [4]

Feminema from Austin, TX

I loved this piece. But I feel you missed an opportunity to discuss Errol Morris's new film, Tabloid -- a brilliant analysis of tabloid journalism and the culture of celebrity.

And what I secretly wish you'd do is cover the story of how in the wake of Morris's film, the woman at its center -- Joyce McKinney -- has been issuing Notices of Intent to Sue to virtually anyone who reviews the film and/or uses one of the film's images. Even my tiny blog ( received one -- and I gave her a truly fair shake in my review. Yet the email explains she is developing a 50 million-dollar case against Morris and will sue me unless I remove the film's images from my site. Fascinating! (This reminds me to alter my insurance policy.)

Jul. 26 2011 08:54 AM
Brooke Gladstone

HE was a masseur. Sorry for the confusion.

Jul. 25 2011 03:49 PM
leo from Chicago

The professor is incorrect about Hearst's supposed non-political views.

Just ask FDR.

Jul. 24 2011 01:50 PM
Steve MacIntyre from Greenville, Delaware

Great story. But a confusing introduction. I assume the occupation of the victim was massage. If so, since he was a man, that would have made him a masseur, not a masseuse.

It took a brief while to sort out whether the victim was a man or a woman, and I still have not settled for sure that he was in fact a masseur. Might I have misheard Bob's description of his occupation?

Jul. 23 2011 04:45 PM

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