American presidents do not declare war because a few journalists tell them to do so.
The pressure for war did not come merely from newspapers and outraged common people.
U.S. businessmen had invested about $50 million in sugar plantations, railroads, mines, and other enterprises in Cuba. They wanted a greater U.S. presence on the island to protect and expand their investments.
Meanwhile, American imperialists such as Senator Henry Cabot Lodge urged the building of an American overseas empire. Imperialists wanted overseas naval bases and a strong navy to allow U.S. commerce to expand abroad.
The urgings of empire builders were at least as strong an influence on President McKinley as the popular wish to help Cubans achieve freedom.