When a burlesque performer was arrested for stealing to support her cocaine addiction, she said her name was Annie Oakley. William Randolph Hearst published the sensational story in 1903 of the famous washed up, drug-addicted Annie Oakley, which was then picked up by many other newspapers.
The real Annie Oakley, who had very carefully avoided any blight against her reputation was horrified and infuriated. She filed, and won, 55 libel suits against the various papers, one of the largest such actions in US history.
False Reports of Scandal
Annie had left Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West show at the end of its 1901 season, and although she did some acting, Oakley looked forward to a quieter existence. That hope was shattered on August 11, 1903, by two Chicago newspapers belonging to publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Hearst, who controlled America's first national media chain, was famous for a lurid style of reporting called "yellow journalism."
His papers had drummed up support for the Spanish-American War, and they regularly featured sensational headlines such as "Startling Confession of Wholesale Murderer Who Begs to be Hanged." The August piece about Oakley was cut from the same cloth: "Famous Woman Crack Shot ... Steals to Secure Cocaine,"
National Women's History Museum