(The following article first appeared in the 9/9/92 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly newspaper, Downtown. See below for part 1.)
Although Randolph Hearst claimed poverty and powerlessness on February 23, 1974—when he was refusing to meet the SLA’s demand for an additional $4 million donation to feed the poor—in 1980 The Hearsts: Family And Empire book suggested that Randoph Hearst was being less than candid at that time:
“The family finds it difficult to admit that even as Randy [Hearst] was trying, in vain, to persuade his daughter’s captors that he possessed no special wealth, the clan had become much richer than ever before.
“The Hearst trustees have taken measures to obscure this shift in the family’s status. In June of 1975, they persuaded Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Neal Lake that [William Randolph Sr. I] Hearst’s will and 14 volumes of related documents, which had been part of the public record, should be sealed.
“According to one of the Hearst beneficiaries, the family now divides approximately 10 percent of the company’s net which currently [in 1980] approaches an impressive $100 million…”
The same book also revealed that the Hearst family trust actually owned 40 percent of Hearst Corporation stock and “while that block is short of an actual majority, it is enough to guarantee that the family trustees will continue to control the organization.” By the 1990s, the Hearst Dynasty owned 100 percent of Hearst Corporation stock. [2008 update: In the 21st-century, the members of the Hearst Corporation’s board of directors are apparently still selected by the 14 trustees of the Hearst family trust, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, and 6 of the trustees of the Hearst Foundation’s board of trustees are members of the Hearst Dynasty. In addition, George Hearst Jr. is the Hearst Corporation Chairman of the Board.]
Hearst Dynasty control of the Hearst Corporation was reflected in the way Hearst’s monthly magazines failed to cover the SLA kidnapping of Patty Hearst. The Hearst Corporation’s president in 1978, John Miller, was the executive vice-president responsible for the media conglomerate’s initial reaction to Patty Hearst’s kidnapping in 1974. Miller told the authors of The Hearsts: Family And Empire in the late 1970s that:
“I ordered everyone to stay away from it. We had editors with their tongues hanging out, trying to get a piece of that story. But I decided that nothing we could write would do us—or her—a bit of good. We simply blacked it out.”
Next: Confronting The Hearst/Cosmopolitan Media Monopoly: The SLA’s 1974 Kidnapping of Patty Hearst—Part 3