When a fringe conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones or the makers of Loose Change, or a bigot like David Duke cites a newspaper article to support his contention that George W. Bush planned 9/11 to help the Jews steal Iraq’s oil, say, chances are that article was published in the American Free Press. Nationalist, racist, free from the restrictive standards of actual journalism, it is the paper of record for politically minded ignorant lunatics all across the United States.

The American Free Press has only been published since 2001, but its roots reach back over fifty years. It was founded by far-right author and activist Willis Carto. Carto was an admirer of pro-Nazi writer Francis Parker Yockey, and was so impressed with Yockey’s book Imperium (isn’t that the perfect neo-fascist book title?) that he wrote one of his own, titled Profiles in Populism, which included glowing biographies of Thomas Jefferson, as well as Catholic priest/radio personality/Third Reich cheerleader Charles Coughlin, and industrialist and candid anti-Semite Henry Ford. In 1955 Carto founded Liberty Lobby, a nationalist and white supremacist political organization. He also started his own publishing house, Noontide Press, which reprinted Yockey’s Imperium as well as Henry Ford’s The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem and the completely discredited and exposed hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

In 1975, Carto’s Liberty Lobby began publishing a weekly newspaper called The Spotlight. By the 1980s, circulation of The Spotlight was around 200,000. The paper went out of business, along with Liberty Lobby, after losing a lawsuit in 2001 to the Legion for the Survival of Freedom, another right-wing extremist organization. The website LibertyLobby.Org maintains an archive of Spotlight articles with headlines like “Alert: [Janet] Reno’s Police-State Power Grab,” and “Jefferson Did Not Father Child With Slave.”[1] Carto and his corps of loyal writers from The Spotlight soon regrouped, and later in 2001 published the first issue of their new weekly newspaper, the American Free Press.

The AFP’s website is so poorly designed, one might be forgiven for mistaking it initially for a very tame porn site. Ads dominate a right-hand column, and the first message greeting readers below the title and navigation bar is a plea for donations — “beyond your annual subscription,” if you please. The similarities to organized religion don’t end there. Like other true believers, the writers and readers of the American Free Press prefer their own distortions, exaggerations, misinterpretations and misconceptions to objective reality. The front page today (9/18/2007) prominently features an article supporting pro-conspiracy theorist presidential candidate Ron Paul, with an article kicking up dust over the supposedly imminent, sovereignty-destroying North American Union just below.[2]

Willis Carto (who also publishes the blatantly racist Barnes Review) and those like him cling to their delusions as devoutly as monks in a sacred order. Facts that undermine their pro-white, anti-Jewish, xenophobic, nationalistic view of the world are dismissed as blithely as a Christian fundamentalist dismisses radiometric dating or the Big Bang theory. And some ties to Christianity are still more direct; among the banner ads at the bottom of the front page are a graphic urging readers to join “Gideon’s Elite” and “prepare for kingdom service,” and another that states flatly “the Jews are not the Israelites of the Bible” and then seems to make the bizarre claim that Jews are responsible for cancer and diseases in livestock. Most mainstream American Christians object to the attempt by white supremacists like Carto to link their fascist ideologies to the philosophy of Jesus, but there is undoubtedly a small minority who believe that Carto, his staff of writers, and the religious extremists who advertise within the pages of the AFP, have gotten it just right.

There is also a small banner ad near the bottom of the front page for tax protester organization the Free Enterprise Society. How could there not be? The AFP is a champion of numerous conspiracy theories, including income tax denial, but most notably the unsupported and totally refuted claim that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job, planned and perpetrated, or at least consciously allowed by the United States government or some mysterious higher power still. Articles from the AFP are cited numerous times in Loose Change and by conspiracy delusionist Alex Jones in several of his hysterical documentaries.

The AFP has become so associated with the Alex Joneses of the world that other conspiracy theory organizations, mostly members of the 9/11 Truth Movement grasping at credibility, have disowned it. OilEmpire.Us, a 9/11 Truther website that characterizes the attacks on the Twin Towers and Pentagon as an “American Reichstag fire,” has a page devoted to the AFP that describes it as “an ultra-right-wing Holocaust denial publication,” and blames the paper for propagating “One of the most absurd hoaxes yet floated to distract the 9/11 truth movement,” namely “the claim that Flight 93 never existed.”[3] When a website that claims John F. Kennedy was killed by the CIA as a “coup d’etat against democracy” wants nothing to do with your newspaper, you have gone too far.[4]

That doesn’t bother Willis Carto, though, I’m sure. To an old Nazi like him, the sight of the 9/11 Truth Movement eating its own tail must be a familiar one. Following George Wallace’s unsuccessful presidential bid in 1968, Carto took control of the Youth for Wallace organization and transformed it into the overtly racist National Youth Alliance. In a precursor to the death of Liberty Lobby at the hands of rival white supremacists, Carto lost control of the National Youth Alliance to fellow neo-fascist William Luther Pierce, who rechristened it the National Alliance and built it into the largest and most infamous neo-Nazi association in the country. If Carto, who is 81, lives long enough to overstay his welcome at the American Free Press, he may disappear for a few months, only to reemerge with yet another new and better outlet for his thinly-veiled National Socialism, racism, and conspiratorial rantings. One advantage of being a worm: there are always plenty of rocks to crawl under.