Saturday, June 28, 2008

`Cosmopolitan''s Historic Hearst Connection

(The following article first appeared in the 9/9/92 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly newspaper, Downtown.)

“Steadily and quietly—indeed, with some of the palace secrecy of the old days—the managers of the Hearst Corporation have put together a media empire that dwarfs the earlier one…In 1986 it had revenues estimated at $3 billion (Hearst doesn’t publish financial statements)."

New York magazine on April 13, 1987

“We’re the largest publishers of monthly magazines in the nation with a total circulation of more than 21 million among 14 publications. These include Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar…,Town & Country, Esquire, House Beautiful, Sports Afield…"

William Randolph Hearst Jr. in his 1991 book, The Hearsts: Father and Son

[2008 Update: “Hearst Corporation ( is one of the nation’s largest diversified media companies. Its major interests include ownership of 15 daily and 31 weekly newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle and Albany Times Union; as well as interests in an additional 44 daily and 38 non-daily newspapers owned by MediaNews Group, which include the Denver Post and Salt Lake Tribune; nearly 200 magazines around the world, including Cosmopolitan and O, The Oprah Magazine; 29 television stations through Hearst-Argyle Television (NYSE:HTV) which reach a combined 18% of U.S. viewers; ownership in leading cable networks, including Lifetime, A&E, History and ESPN; as well as business publishing, including a minority joint venture interest in Fitch Ratings; Internet businesses, television production, newspaper features distribution and real estate.”—a June 18, 2008 Hearst Corporation press release]

“About 15 Hearsts either work at the company or serve as its directors.”

The New York Times on April 26, 1987

“We must first understand who the Hearsts are, who they serve and represent. Randolph A. Hearst is the corporate chairman of the fascist media empire of the ultra-right Hearst Corporation, which is one of the largest propaganda institutions of this oppressive military dictatorship of the militarily armed corporate state that we now live under in this nation.”

Symbionese Liberation Army [SLA] Leader “Cinque” DeFreeze in 1974

“For two generations, the Hearst newspapers themselves have wielded their power and profits by exploiting the most lurid aspects of war, irrational violence, and racist and sexist ideas. They have a lot of reckoning to account for.”

The Weather Underground on February 20, 1974

Although Cosmopolitan magazine has not been too intellectually cosmopolitan, historically, when it comes to printing many feature articles about the Hearst Dynasty’s media conglomerate, Hearst corporate interests owned Cosmopolitan for most of the 20th century. Yet despite its ownership of Cosmopolitan and many other U.S. monthly magazines, the Hearst family has not been popular with many cosmopolitan people in the United States. One reason why the Berkeley urban guerrillas who “arrested” Patty Hearst on February 4, 1974—the Symbionese Liberation Army [SLA]—quickly became folk-heroes, historically, in certain cultural underground circles, is that people in the United States have long felt that it’s not democratic for “Citizen Kane” types to monopolize control of so many Big Media outlets.

(Downtown 9/9/92)

Next: Cosmopolitan’s Pre-1992 History