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‘Citizen Hearst’ Premieres on PBS Sept. 27

William Randolph Hearst with Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan.
William Randolph Hearst with Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan. (Image credit: Courtesy of Marc Wanamaker/Bison Archives)

Citizen Hearst, a four-hour documentary about William Randolph Hearst, debuts on PBS Sept. 27. The two-night special is part of American Experience

PBS calls Hearst “one of the most fascinating and powerful men of the 20th century,” with newspapers, a movie studio, a wire service, radio stations and magazines. “He used his communications stronghold to achieve political power unprecedented in the industry, then ran for office himself,” said PBS.

Hearst died in 1951. 

Citizen Hearst is based on the David Nasaw book The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst.

“In today’s polarized media landscape, the explosion of false narratives seems to undermine the very concept of what qualifies as news,” said Cameo George, American Experience executive producer. “This incisive examination of William Randolph Hearst, and the unprecedented power he wielded through his media empire, couldn’t be more timely.” 

The documentary is directed by Amanda Pollak and Stephen Ives, written by Gene Tempest and Stephen Ives, and produced by Amanda Pollak and Gene Tempest. 

The first episode sees Hearst, having conquered the media market in San Francisco, set his sights on New York. He also runs for president and for mayor in New York.