Who Was the Liar Reporter?

In the 1890's in Oklahoma there were a lot of stories printed in the newspapers, news outlets competed for dollars and readers, and - occasionally - they were not at all adverse to coming up with flights of creative fiction.

I first noticed this trend in researching the great airship flap of the same period that stretched across the country. I learned a liar's contest of sorts had emerged where newspaper publishers and editors all sought to gain the most attention determined by who created the most fanciful tale. Then, as I researched female outlaws for my book Oklahoma Bad Girls (2017) I saw that the color of the paper was often an irksome and repulsive yellow form of journalism. The women were lied about, stories created around smoking bar room tables, and others apparently simply the Gilded Age equivalent of "calling it in."

Some of the worst came out of Guthrie, O.T. in reference to the saga of Flora Quick Mundis, aka 'Tom King", the female horse thief who donned men's clothes. She was splattered with garish labels of whore, murderer, loose woman, and so much more without any proof that she was any of those things. Salcious western writers merely continued the infernal legacy of name calling- again without any proof - until today nearly every western history book on a popular level continued the lies and misinformation.

Someone else, however, noted the same tendency and they writing in 1895 in the Cushing Herald (Oct. 4, 1895, pg. 2).  The rant of the local editor was over teh bad name the "Guthrie Liar" had given to the area of Cushing in printing a story about murderous outlaws attacking a farm outside of town, exchanging 100 rounds of hot lead, killing the man's wife and two daughters. The story was picked up and reprinted in the St.Louis Republic newspaper before it came to the attention of the local editor in Cushing. There was no such man named Tom Davidson, no such ranch, no such farm One can easily picture that fellow gritting a cigar and turning the air blue as he wrote, "such articles...are written by either a fool or a rascal...it is a pity the fool killer can't locate him."

So - the major question is then just who was this fellow whose bent was obviously more into creative fiction than hard nosed factual journalism?

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