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John R. McLean, owner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, bought the newspaper. Under his leadership, The Washington Post increased its circulation and advertising and boosted its profits, but McLean's loyalty to the Democratic party colored his news judgments and caused the paper to lose much of its credibility and influence.

McLean died and his son, Edward, became publisher. A crony of President Warren G. Harding, young McLean switched the paper's allegiance to the Republican party. Circulation dropped, advertising decreased, and finally The Post stumbled into receivership.