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Arthur Brisbane Jr.’s Sugar Bloodline

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New York, NY—In the wake of the NY Times announcement that Arthur Brisbane Jr. had been appointed the paper’s Public Editor, the journalist’s impressive pedigree received little attention. His grandfather, Arthur Brisbane, loomed large in the early 20th century newspaper business, the most influential columnist of his time. He worked for William Randolph Hearst, who recognized Brisbane as a mass-market juggernaut, a specialist of pithy and often bloated utterances—about sunshine’s anti-cancer properties, for example, or the unpromising prospects for air travel. Appearing on the front pages of the Hearst nationwide newspaper chain, Brisbane was digested daily by more than 20 million readers.

A master of the mass-circulation lead, Brisbane aligned himself with the refined sugar industry. He wrote in 1928: “This country, once the great sugar consuming nation of the world, now eats less sugar than it needs, a GREAT DEAL LESS…this is due in part to the folly of women trying to get thin, told by ignorant specialists ‘Sugar will make you fat.’ Sugar will NOT make you fat. On the contrary, it will supply heat, and burn up waste tissue.”

Of course, in the early years of the great sugar debate, scarce science existed regarding the physiological impact of sugar. Hearst and Brisbane, great pals, might not have understood the complexity of glucose, but they did understand money. Brisbane, syndicated in more than 500 newspapers, ranked as the highest paid journalist of his generation, and Hearst gladly accepted the sugar industry’s advertising money to thwart early attacks from the diet industry and sugar-phobes.

Bite Digest is pretty sure Brisbane’s grandson, as Public Editor, would have taken Brisbane the Elder to task for such transparent advocacy.


Written by Brian O'Connor

June 22, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Posted in sugar

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