It is important to consider that during this period of American history, news was gathered by word of mouth and then sent to down by either a courier or by telegraph. Due to the fact that there was no such thing as radio or television during the first years of the 20th century, newspaper reports had to be as descriptive and sensational as possible. This style of reporting often led to "half-truths" being told of the news.

The reports that follow are good examples of "half-truths". While the Buffalo reporters were kept aware of the condition of the President to a certain extent, it was only well after McKinley had died that the entire nature of his life-saving attempt was revealed. Faced with "no news", the reporters, for the most part, guessed at what was going on.

I can make these claims based on the accounts of what really happened. Remember that you are reading from a newspaper from 1901 on the day McKinley was shot. Think of CNN running the same video over and over again while they are desperately trying to get a reporter on the inside of the O.J. trial to find out what in God's name is going on!

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4 a.m. -- The following bulletin has just been issued at the Milburn residence:
"The President continues to rest well. Temperature 101, pulse 110, respiration 24."

2:30 -- The President is sleeping and resting fairly easy.

3:00 -- No change in the President's condition. The President's family arrived at 2:45. Five hundred telegrams received so far.

The physicians in attendance on President McKinley made this statement:
It is an impossibility to know just what condition the President is in unless one makes a personal examination. I should say that on general principles and considering the fact that the President had undergone an operation, that his condition under these circumstances is normal. Of course sufficient time has not elapsed since the operation to make an accurate decision."

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Now obviously by the time a person would have read this article several hours would have passed. This was known as "up to the minute" reporting in those days. You couldn't have "interrupted your regularly scheduled program", so they wrote as much as they could before the paper went to press. Nevertheless it kept people on the edge of their seats and crowded to their nearest newstand!