Newspaper Titan: The Infamous Life and Monumental Times of Cissy Patterson

Front Cover
Alfred A. Knopf, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 696 pages
1 Review
From the author of Hostage to Fortune; The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy ("Superb" --Michael Beschloss; "Remarkable" --Arthur Schlesinger), the galvanizing story of Eleanor Medill (Cissy) Patterson, celebrated debutante and socialte, scion of the Chicago Tribune empire, and the twentieth century's first woman editor in chief and publisher of a major metropolitan daily newspaper, the Washington Times-Herald.

She was called the most powerful woman in America, surpassing Eleanor Roosevelt, Bess Truman, Clare Boothe Luce, and Dorothy Schiff.

Cissy Patterson was from old Republican stock. Her grandfather was Joseph Medill, firebrand abolitionist, mayor of Chicago, editor in chief and principal owner of the Chicago Tribune, and one of the founders of the Republican Party who delivered the crucial Ohio delegation to Abraham Lincoln at the convention of 1860.

Cissy Patterson's brother, Joe Medill Patterson, started the New York Daily News.

Her pedigree notwithstanding, Cissy Patterson came to publishing shortly before her forty-ninth birthday, in 1930, with almost no practical journalistic or editorial experience and a life out of the pages of Edith Wharton (or more likely the other way around: shades of Cissy are everywhere in the Countess Olenska).

Amanda Smith writes that in the summer of 1930, Cissy Patterson, educated at the turn of the century at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Connecticut, for a vocation of marriage and motherhood and a place in society, took over William Randolph Hearst's foundering Washington Herald and began to learn what others believed she could never grasp--how to run and build up a newspaper. She vividly lived out the Medill family's editorial motto (at least in spirit): "When you grandmother gets raped, put it on the front page."

Patterson soon bought from Hearst the Herald's evening sister paper, the Washington Times, merged the two, and became editor, publisher, and sole proprietor of a big-city newspaper, a position almost unprecedented in American history. The effect of the merger was "electric"...

By 1945, the Washington Times-Herald, with ten daily editions, was clearing an annual profit of more than $1 million.

Amanda Smith, in this huge, fascinating biography gives us the (infamous) life and monumental times of Cissy Patterson, scourge of liberals, advocate of appeasing Hitler, lover of poodles, and hater of FDR.

Here is her twentieth-century Washington: its politics and society, scandals and feuds, and at the center--the fierce newspaper wars that consumed and drove the country's press titans, as Patterson took the Washington Times-Herald from a chronic tail-ender in circulation and advertising, ranked fifth in the town, and made it into the most widely read round-the-clock daily in the national's capital, deemed by many to be "the damndest newspaper to ever hit the streets."
  

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - NewsieQ - LibraryThing

Eleanor Medill Patterson (1881-1948) was high maintenance, high drama and spent more money each year than most people manage to accumulate in a lifetime. She acquired as many enemies as she did ... Read full review

Contents

Joseph Medill ca I892
31
Elinor Josephine Patterson Cissy ca 1882
43
Joseph and Kitty Medills eldest daughter Katherine Medill McCormick
56
Sixteenyearold Cissy Patterson
62
Joseph Medill and his grandchildren 1899
70
Dupont Circle as it looked in the early decades of the twentieth century
76
Cissy Patterson Lake Forest Illinois ca 1900
84
Sketch by Cissy ca I902
98
Cissy in fancy dress 1920s
287
Felicia Gizycka and Ellen Pearson ca I930
296
Eleanor Medill Patterson December 1951
316
Ellen Pearson Southampton New York 1929
332
Cissy Patterson with mechanical superintendent J Irving Belt 9_os
347
Part
358
Cissys Hen House 1940s
376
FDR memorandom with photo 1938
386

Twentytwomonthold Countess Felicia Gizycka Novosielica July
150
Joseph Medill Patterson and Robert Rutherford McCormick Lake
154
From the San Antonin Texas Light March 2 1 1909
186
The two Countesses Gizycka August 1909
196
Part
206
Robert Rutherford McCormick Onwentsia Club Horse Show ca 1907
208
Cal Carrington I 930
214
Joseph Medill Patterson with his dog Billy 1914
223
Felicia Gizycka 1920s
248
The Countess of Flat Creek 1920s
255
Newlyweds Mr and Mrs Drew Pearson San Diego California
270
Vovelist Eleanor Gizycka ca I925
280
Cissys New Years greetings 1941
419
Ellen Pearson late 1950s
433
Cissy early 19405
456
Cissy Dupont Circle 1 940
476
Captain Joseph Medill Pattersons burial at Arlington National
484
Cissy 15 Dupont Circle 1940s
498
Business manager Bill Shelton mechanical superintendent Irving
524
Jackie Martin and Cissy 19
557
Epilogue
575
Abbreviations
581
Bibliography
651
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Amanda Smith was born and raised in New York City. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College. She is the editor of Hostage to Fortune: The Letters of Joseph P. Kennedy. Smith lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children.

Bibliographic information