1934 California Gubernatorial Election Attack Ads - Staged Newsreels

These staged newsreels attacking socialist Upton Sinclair during the 1934 election for governor of California are considered to be the first onscreen political attack ads. Sinclair was running against Raymond L. Haight and Republican incumbent Frank Merriam. The newsreels, which feature man-on-the-street interviews, are used as a fictional plot device in the David Fincher movie Mank, which falsely implies that Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz was upset at William Randolph Hearst for funding the Upton Sinclair attack ads. The movie claims this is what later inspired Mankiewicz to model his unsavory character Charles Foster Kane after Hearst. Related Article: Mank: History vs. Hollywood

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