McClure’s Revenge, A Homage

McClure’s Revenge pays homage to one of the original and most influential muckraking publications, McClure’s Magazine. We hope to continue their work and instill the muckraking spirit in everyone.

McClure’s Magazine was founded by Samuel McClure in 1893 and by 1902 it had become one of the top muckraking magazines in the United States. Its purpose was clear, fight corruption on all fronts. Whether it be the government, business monopolies, or special interest groups.

Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair, Ida Tarbell, and Lincoln Steffens are famous examples of the influential authors who took to the pages of McClure’s. Steffens wrote several famous articles, detailing the corruption in city and public government. His investigations provided evidence that members of the business world would use their monetary advantages to influence public officials. This sparked outrage among the masses and legislators alike, regarding the validity of a business elite influencing policy simply because of their wealth and ability to use it.

Ida Tarbell in particular was responsible for one of the most influential muckraking publications to date. Her investigation into the monopolistic tendencies of Standard Oil (which had to be broken up into nineteen separate publications because of its length) quickly spurred legislation aimed at anti-trust regulation. As a result, Standard Oil, was broken up into thirty-four separate companies.

Ida Tarbell

Muckrakers like Tarbell and Steffens battled against unfair business monopolies, government malfeasance, racial inequality, poor labor conditions and everything in between.

“We muckraked, not because we hated our world, but because we loved it. We were not hopeless, we were not cynical, we were not bitter”

-Ray Stannard Baker

The sentiment expressed here is not alien to progressives, activists, and reformists alike. It is an attitude that is universal to the individual who lives to better the lives of others. Though some will choose to live apathetically, there are others who will stand in defiance of corruption. McClure’s Magazine is evidence that a small group of people, when organized, can create the positive change they want to see in society.

Today the muckraking journalism endeavored after by McClure’s is degrading into sensationalist publications and half-truths. The top news outlets are fueled by advertising dollars and shareholder profit. They are biased in support of the special interest groups and corporations that have hijacked the government. As a result, the American people are being hung out to dry.

To paraphrase a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt, “it is very necessary that we should not flinch from seeing what is vile and debasing. There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the muck rake.”

The filth is the trillion-dollar military budget, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the rotting education system in need of reform, the special interest groups corralling political policy, the destruction of our planet, the racial inequality propagated by the establishment, the legal monopolies that manipulate consumers, and the imperialist agenda of the U.S government. In other words, we cannot continue to pretend that progressive change is not necessary. It is our responsibility to inform, educate, and enact change that benefits everyone, especially the marginalized groups of society.

We can’t all be muckraking journalists, but we can do a little more than we are now to ensure the future is still bright and sustainable for future generations.

By: Patrick O’Connor


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