'Gordon Bennett!’ is a cry of astonishment in English. Something like ‘goodness gracious!’ or ‘good grief!’. The expression alludes to the American publisher, James Gordon Bennett jr., who led a life that many would be jealous of. He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and turned it into a golden one. At first, he seemed entirely unsuitable to succeed his father James Gordon Bennett sr., but between the sailing races, yacht parties and polo matches, he managed to triple the print run of the New York Herald in a short space of time.
After he had caused a scandal in small-minded New York, Bennett left for Europe in 1877, where ten years later he founded the Paris Herald, which would exist for 125 years as the International Herald Tribune. His reputation was awful. Fear and suspicion reigned at his company, while he made one cruise after another on his magnificent yacht.
Bennett was targeting the elite of the Belle Époque with his lively newspaper; just like him, they had abandoned themselves to sporting festivities and excesses. He organised automobile races in 1900 and later also boat, balloon and aeroplane races, for each of which you could win the Gordon Bennett Cup.
In 1914, when the German troops advanced on Paris, Bennett remained in the French capital after the government and a large part of the French press had fled to Bordeaux. In times of war, a city needs reliable news provision, as he understood better than anyone. For the first time in his life, he got the copy ready for press himself. Bennett was the hero of Paris. He used the last remnants of paper to print a few copies, and then hung them in the glass display cases on the front of the editorial offices.