“Muckrakers” were reporters who, exploiting mass circulation journalism, attacked malfeasance in American politics and business. President Theodore Roosevelt gave them the name “muckrakers,” after a character in the book Pilgrim’s Progress, “the Man with the Muckrake,” who was more preoccupied with filth than with heaven. Popular magazines such as McClure’s, Everybody’s, Pearson’s, Cosmopolitan, and Collier’s published articles exposing the evils of American society—political corruption, stock market manipulation, fake advertising, vice, impure food and drugs, racial discrimination, and lynching. Among influential muckraker works were Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, which exposed unsanitary conditions in the meatpacking industry; John Spargo’s Bitter Cry of the Children, disclosing the abuse of child laborers in the nation’s coal mines; Lincoln Steffin’s The Shame of the Cities, which uncovered corruption in city government; and Ida Tarbell’s The History of the Standard Oil Company, which exposed that company’s legal maneuverings and unfair business practices.

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