On August 28, 1934, Socialist Upton Sinclair shocked the political world by winning the Democratic nomination for governor of California. His campaign—which promised to revitalize the state‟s idle factories and farms through a series of governmentorganized colonies—drew attention from across the Depression-weary nation and scared the state‟s business establishment into organizing what historian Greg Mitchell has described as “nothing less than a revolution”—the first modern media campaign.
Waged by such men as Harry Chandler of the Los Angeles Times, Louis Mayer of Metro-Goldwin-Mayer and C.C. Teague of Sunkist, the anti-Sinclair campaign brought together for the first time in an American election the use of film, radio, direct mail, opinion polls, and national fund raising. Through the use of these media and political techniques, Sinclair was falsely painted a Communist, a renegade and an atheist who advocated free love and the nationalization of children. Quotations from his various books were distorted, printed in circulars and distributed to millions of voters; phony “newsreels” that drew connections between Sinclair‟s proposals and Russian Communism were filmed by the Hollywood studios and shown in theaters throughout the state; and the metropolitan press either ignored or attacked his candidacy, showing little patience for the practice of objective journalism.