Kane: “It’s also my pleasure to see to it that decent hard-working people in this community aren’t robbed blind by a pack of money-mad pirates, just because they haven’t anybody to look after their interests.”
Kane says this in Thatcher’s written reminiscences. Thatcher has come to visit Kane at the Inquirer to question him about his motives for attacking Thatcher’s business interests. Kane has set himself up as a man of the people, even though in social and economic terms he is much closer to Thatcher than he is to the masses. Kane still thinks of Thatcher as a pirate because of the way Thatcher took him from his mother, even though Thatcher has always looked after Kane’s business interests. Kane understands that what Thatcher cares about most is money, so he uses his newspaper to attack Thatcher's financial interests. Kane's actions also damage his own interests, but this is less important to him than hurting Thatcher. Thatcher can’t understand why Kane acts the way he does, as Bernstein later notes. In a way, Thatcher’s bewilderment is easy to understand because he was merely doing what he had been contracted to do when he took young Kane into his custody. He can’t fathom why Kane should resent him.
At the same time, and in the same scene, Kane is fomenting a war that will certainly have a detrimental effect on the same people he purports to protect. However, this war will bolster Kane's finances by increasing his newspaper’s circulation. This quote attests to Kane’s characteristic self-delusion, an affliction that surfaces here in how he perceives his relationship with the masses and elsewhere in his relationship with Susan Alexander. In Kane’s arrogance, he never considers that he might not be any more qualified to look after the interests of the American people than Thatcher is. While Thatcher’s goal may be to protect the money of those who are already rich, Kane’s goal is to control public opinion and the political climate. Kane is not as altruistic as he likes to think he is. Thatcher understands that and points it out to Kane, as does Leland later in the film when he brings to Kane’s attention that his newspaper empire is as much a monopoly as Thatcher’s financial business trusts ever were.