Last week, Fox Business announced that it would begin airing senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano's FoxNews.com show Freedom Watch. Given the show's history, the move raises questions about whether the channel will allow Napolitano to mainstream and promote fringe guests and radical anti-government conspiracy theories.
In contrast to his Fox News colleagues, Napolitano has used his FoxNews.com show to praise and promote two of the most visible leaders of the 9-11 Truth movement, Alex Jones and Jesse Ventura. On Freedom Watch last month, Napolitano called guest Ventura a "champion of exposing government fraud and lies," and promoted Ventura's belief that the government either "participate[d]" in 9-11 or "knew it was going to happen and didn't do very much to stop it."
Napolitano also hosted "the great" Jones to push anti-government conspiracy theories about one-world government and his DVD The Obama Deception, which describes Obama as a "hoax" by the New World Order to impose "forced National Service, domestic civilian spies, warrantless wiretaps, the destruction of the Second Amendment, FEMA camps and Martial Law."
Napolitano is a regular guest on Jones' radio program. Napolitano has called the self-described 9-11 Truth "founding father" a "dear friend" who "we go to" because of "your zeal and your courage and your fearlessness in exposing" the government. Napolitano does not discuss 9-11 Truth conspiracies with Jones in available online videos, and Napolitano indicates in his book Lies the Government Told You that he does not believe the government carried out the 9-11 attacks. However, the Fox News analyst has pushed other anti-government conspiracies about "one world government," seizure of firearms, the suspension of elections, and the creation of a "war" or "crisis" to help President Obama. Napolitano even told Jones' anti-government listeners that if the Founding Fathers were alive today, they'd "probably want to take up arms against" the government.
Napolitano's mainstreaming and praise of the 9-11 Truth leaders is in direct opposition to his Fox News colleagues. While Glenn Beck has promoted numerous anti-government conspiracy theories, he's opposed the 9-11 Truth movement. Beck criticized Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) for associating with Ventura because he is a "9/11 Truther" and "off the deep end." Beck heavily criticized former Obama administration official Van Jones and those associating with him after his name appeared on a 9-11 Truth petition (Van Jones has stated that he believes Al-Qaida caused the attacks and that he was lied to about the petition, which was "something that I never saw and never signed onto"). Despite Beck's denunciations of 9-11 Truthers and those associated with them, Napolitano is a frequent guest host for his Fox News program.
In September 2007, Alex Jones and his "9-11 was an inside job" followers protested Geraldo Rivera's live Fox News program; Geraldo in-turn told the "anarchist" and "nut job" protestors to "get a life." In May 2007, Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin criticized Paul for appearing "on radio shows like 9/11 conspiracy nut Alex Jones." Just last month, FoxNews.com reported that the "government is investigating dozens of death threats to IRS employees" that "were posted in response to an incendiary story on infowars.com, the radical far-right Web site owned by radio host Alex Jones."
Napolitano "admire[s]" 9-11 Truther Ventura
Napolitano used his March 22 FoxNews.com show to showcase the book and conspiracy theories of Jesse Ventura, who Napolitano said is a "champion of exposing government fraud and lies" and "uncover[s]" the government with "passion and zeal." At no point did Napolitano dispute or challenge Ventura's 9-11 conspiracy theory "that if we didn't participate in it, we certainly knew it was going to happen." To the contrary, Napolitano wondered if "someday we will look on 9-11 the way we look on the JFK assassination today, that is, where people who question the government's involvement will be mainstreamed, rather than looked upon as an extremist fringe."
After Napolitano's fawning introduction, Ventura said: "Judge, hey, how do you get away with doing an introduction like you did there?" Napolitano replied: "Because I believe in my heart what I've said about you. I've admired you from afar, and I must tell you, we don't do books on Freedom Watch, but this kept me awake over the weekend."
In the latter half of the segment, Napolitano asked Ventura for his opinion on what "really happened on 9-11." Ventura replied:
VENTURA: Well, everything I've learned leads me to believe that if we didn't participate in it, we certainly knew it was going to happen and didn't do very much to stop it for political reasons because all indications are that they've wanted to go into Iraq for decades so they needed an excuse to do it, so they had multiple excuses that they deceived us on.
In his book American Conspiracies, Ventura writes of 9-11: "Our government engaged in a massive cover-up of what really happened, including its own ties to the hijackers. Unanswered questions remain about how the towers were brought down, and whether a plane really struck the Pentagon. The Bush administration either knew about the plan and allowed it to proceed, or they had a hand in it themselves" [Page 142].
Ventura added that 9-11 conspiracy theories are more plausible because the government has a history of deceiving the public ("It isn't the first time"). Napolitano supported Ventura's assertions about past government deceptions and added that he believed that "FDR either caused Pearl Harbor or looked the other way because he needed an excuse to get us involved in World War II":
VENTURA: Let's remember too, judge. It isn't the first time. I was teaching at Harvard, 2004, when McNamara came to and admitted that the Gulf of Tonkin incident didn't happen. Well, this is what got us into the Vietnam War, where 58,000 of my generation were killed and probably a million Vietnamese killed. So we have to understand, this is stuff has not been done before. The Reistag fire of Germany, where they thought that they burned down the Congress of Germany. Hitler blamed it on the Russians to get the Germans into war with Russia --
NAPOLITANO: Correct. Correct.
VENTURA: When it turned out he did it himself.
NAPOLITANO: Correct. I'm of the view that FDR either caused Pearl Harbor or looked the other way because he needed an excuse to get us involved in World War II. When I told people about my book, Lies the Government Told You, and probably when you told people about your book American Conspiracies, and they said how long is it, and I said 4,000 pages, and everybody laughed, it's because we believe that the government lies to us and it would take 4,000 pages to explain all of those lies. Why do we come to a culture in our society where we expect the government to cheat and lie and break its own laws?
Napolitano also asked Ventura if he thought "that someday we will look on 9-11 the way we look on the JFK assassination today, that is, where people who question the government's involvement will be mainstreamed, rather than looked upon as an extremist fringe":
NAPOLITANO: Before I let you go, do you think that somehow -- there's your book on the screen, Jesse Ventura, American Conspiracies, do you think that someday we will look on 9-11 the way we look on the JFK assassination today, that is, where people who question the government's involvement will be mainstreamed, rather than looked upon as an extremist fringe.
VENTURA: I hope so, because there's sure a lot of unanswered questions, and the part that bugs me the most, Judge, is this. You're not even allowed to ask them.
Ventura further told Napolitano that New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is refusing to answer his question about 9-11. Napolitano replied: "Wow ... I wonder why he wouldn't answer."
In April 2008, Jones' Prison Planet website wrote an article headlined, "Former Governor Jesse Ventura: WTC Collapse A Controlled Demolition" and quoted Ventura stating that "in my opinion there's no doubt that that building was brought down with demolition." Ventura's book is sold in Infowars.com's online store.
Like Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly also criticized Ventura for being "a conspiracy kind of guy. Among other things, he believes 9/11 was inside job and that the government doesn't care about the military" (The O'Reilly Factor, December 3, 2009). FoxNews.com also posted an April 21 opinion piece by Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, who wrote of Ventura: "I was there. I know what happened, and there is no single credible piece of evidence that implicates the United States of America in the Sept. 11 attacks. Governor Ventura has discredited himself, and dishonored and defamed his country by promoting these intellectually dishonest views. He should be ashamed of himself."
Despite promotions of 9-11 Truth leaders and views, Napolitano himself doesn't appear to believe that the government carried out the attacks. In his new book Lies the Government Told, Napolitano writes of 9-11: "We were attacked by those who resented our presence in their countries and while our country stood still, sadness and shock emanating throughout, the federal government chose to help terrorists cause more American suffering by diminishing the liberty that makes America so great" (Page 288).
Napolitano: Keep turning to Alex Jones
Alex Jones describes himself as on "the front lines of the growing global information war from ground zero to the occult playgrounds of the power-mad elite. Jones predicted the attacks on September 11th, 2001 and is considered one of the very first founding fathers of the 9-11 Truth Movement."
Jones' websites features a section for his "Dynamic Documentary Films and Powerful Books," which include:
- Police State 4: The Rise Of FEMA. "Alex Jones conclusively proves the existence of a secret network of FEMA camps, now being expanded nationwide. The military industrial complex is transforming our once free nation into a giant prison camp."
- Fall Of The Republic: The Presidency Of Barack H Obama. "Leaders are now declaring that world government has arrived and that the dollar will be replaced by a new global currency. President Obama has brazenly violated Article 1 Section 9 of the US Constitution by seating himself at the head of United Nations' Security Council, thus becoming the first US president to chair the world body. A scientific dictatorship is in its final stages of completion."
- The Obama Deception. "The Obama phenomenon is a hoax carefully crafted by the captains of the New World Order. He is being pushed as savior in an attempt to con the American people into accepting global slavery."
- ENDGAME: Blueprint for Global Enslavement. "For the New World Order, a world government is just the beginning. Once in place they can engage their plan to exterminate 80% of the world's population."
- Dark Secrets: Inside the Bohemian Grove, which "documented the first ever hidden camera incursion into the Grove and the bizzare pagan ritual, the Cremation of Care, practiced by its members, all men, including both Presidents Bush, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Colin Powell, and Henry Kissenger to name but a few."
The Anti-Defamation League wrote that "Jones may currently well be the most prominent conspiracy theorist in the United States" and "reached prominence in the years after the 9/11 terror attacks, as he became one of the most energetic of the 'truthers,' the conspiracy theorists who believe that the 9/11 attacks were an 'inside job' by the U.S. government."
Napolitano hosted Jones on his March 18, 2009, broadcast, during which Jones repeatedly promoted The Obama Deception. Author Michelle Goldberg noted that Napolitano gave "the great Alex Jones" an unchallenged platform to push anti-government conspiracy theories:
On March 18, for example, Freedom Watch did a joint broadcast with the prolific conspiracy theorist Alex Jones-or, as Napolitano introduced him, "the one, the only, the great Alex Jones"-so that the show aired simultaneously on the Fox News Web site and on Jones's radio program. It was an extraordinary collaboration, because Jones is best known as a leader of the 9/11 Truth movement. In his documentary 9/11: The Road to Tyranny, Jones argued that the attacks on the World Trade Center were orchestrated by the U.S. government as a pretext for the "power-mad megalomaniacs" of the New World Order to "usher in their corrupt world government, a world government where populations, their own documents show, will be herded into compact cities, will be issued national ID cards, and yes, even implantable microchips."
Freedom Watch gave Jones a mainstream venue to warn that the banks had engineered the financial collapse in order to establish a global government that would collect carbon taxes to fuel its evil designs. Rather than challenge him, Napolitano said, "I appreciate what you're exposing." There was a time, he continued, "when the types of things that you are warning against were not discussed openly and publicly." Referring to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's call for a "global New Deal," Napolitano asked, "What under the sun is a global New Deal unless it consists of the type of thing that you have just warned against?"
During these appearances, Napolitano and Jones openly noted their affection for one another. Napolitano told Jones that "you, my friend, are doing more than anybody I know -- I'm trying to keep up with you to educate the public in the dangers of too much government. And guess what? The message is getting through, Alex." Napolitano also said of Jones: "Well, we go to places like your show because of your zeal and your courage and your fearlessness in exposing this. As much as you exercised the same zeal, and courage and fearlessness in the previous administration, and we have to educate people." In return, Jones said that Napolitano is "best person out there period on national television. In fact, he's the only person that I agree with almost 100%."
Napolitano's appearances on Jones' programs largely consist of the two jointly pushing anti-government conspiracy theories and rhetoric:
- November elections could be suspended. Jones and Napolitano both pushed the theory that the Democrats might "suspend" the November elections. Jones repeatedly said that the November elections might be suspended and that there's a bipartisan effort to put in a "police state control grid." Napolitano replied that there is "a bipartisan movement toward a police state." Napolitano later hinted at the suspension of elections by stating that Democrats know "they will never have the majorities in the Congress after November, if there is a November election, that they have now." [3/25/10]
- Napolitano: "The one world government has been around since the Progressive Era." Jones and Napolitano both agree that there is a "one world government" that's forcing its will on Americans. After Jones promoted his new film Police State 4: The Rise of FEMA, Jones told Napolitano that there are open admissions of "global government" being "run by banks." Napolitano responded by thanking Jones, and said:
NAPOLITANO: I'm just a simple night watchman that's employed by Fox. My job is to watch the government in the night time when it doesn't think that people are watching it and doesn't want people to look at it to see what it is doing to steal our freedom and to steal our property.
The one world government has been around since the Progressive Era, and you're right, Alex, these people are enormously patient. Obviously the people who came up with this concept are no longer with us, but their successors are. They are wealthier, they are more sophisticated, and they are just as committed as their predecessors were. They simply want control. They want power for the joy of exercising power in and of itself. [3/25/10]
- Napolitano: Government "will try" to take away your right to guns because "the first thing a tyrant does is disarm the citizenry."
NAPOLITANO: They cannot interfere with any fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. And thanks to a great opinion called Heller, H-E-L-L-E-R, written by Justice Antonin Scalia last year, we now know that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental, read, natural right, like the right to defend yourself in a fight in the streets. And the government can't take that right away though we know they will try -- you've said this more effectively than anybody else on air, Alex, the first thing a tyrant does is to disarm the citizenry because they fear more than anything else an armed citizenry. [2/3/10]
- Napolitano: Obama will "creat[e] a crisis" like "starting a war" so he can enact socialism. On February 3, Jones told Napolitano that "we've got neocons and establishment liberals saying attack Iran" to President Obama in order to "get you dug out" of your low approval ratings. Jones then asked Napolitano what Obama would do. Napolitano replied: "Starting a war. Picking a fight. Creating a crisis so that we will unite behind him. And in that euphoria of uniting behind him, they'll enact all the march toward socialism they've been trying to, they've tried to enact. Just like the Republicans":
JONES: With all of this coming out, with his big tax increases in trouble, his government seizure of health care in trouble because it's so illegal, the states lining up to fight it, the attorney generals, the federal and state courts, with their entire agenda -- his youth corp falling apart. His lowest approval rating of any president in history one year in, with the fastest decline accelerating towards, you know, something that looks Nixonian in '74, he's going to need a crisis and we've got neocons and establishment liberals saying attack Iran to get you dug out of this. I mean, these guys are right out in the open, Judge. Where do you see Obama going?
NAPOLITANO: Starting a war. Picking a fight. Creating a crisis so that we will unite behind him. And in that euphoria of uniting behind him, they'll enact all the march toward socialism they've been trying to, they've tried to enact. Just like the Republicans in the euphoria of unifying behind George W. Bush in the weeks and months after 9-11 enacted the Patriot Act, the most hateful and un-American piece of legislation ever enacted by Congress -- at least since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 but the President and the Democrats will do the same thing. A crisis makes people afraid, makes them think the government can take care of them, and when the devil makes that satanic argument, that satanic bargain, hey, give me your freedoms and I'll keep you safe, most Americans would give away their freedoms in return for safety. It doesn't work.
- Napolitano: Obama's "birth records" jab. While discussing the detainment of Jose Padilla, Napolitano alluded to the conspiracy theory that President Obama's birth certificate is not legitimate and he may have been born in another country. Napolitano said that Padilla's "birth records are better known than the birth records of the present president of the United States" [2/3/10]. Alex Jones has repeatedly pushed Obama birther conspiracies.
Napolitano also told Jones that "the present government and its predecessors from Lincoln to Wilson to FDR to George W. Bush to Barack Obama have so distorted out of proportion what the federal government is to do that the founders would not recognize it at all and would probably want to take up arms against it" [11/10/09].
Napolitano told Jones that he's "trying to keep up with you to educate the public in the dangers of too much government." Indeed, conspiracy theories promoted by Jones have ended up on Fox News through Napolitano. On March 27, Jones' Infowars.com posted an AmericanDaughter.com piece claiming that "Obama Just Got His Private Army." The piece supported its claim by citing "Sec. 5210. Establishing a Ready Reserve Corps" and a July 2, 2008 speech by Obama which purportedly "called for a police state." Napolitano, in turn, pushed the same conspiracy theory (and same evidence) on Fox News. Napolitano pushed the theory while appearing on Fox Business (just two days after Infowar's article), while guest hosting Glenn Beck and as a guest on Fox & Friends.
Napolitano also did a segment on the "private army" on the April 6 edition of Freedom Watch with frequent guest Lew Rockwell. In 2009, Michelle Goldberg noted the controversial history of "libertarian anarchist" Rockwell:
Other Freedom Watch regulars share his antipathy to the union of the states. Lew Rockwell, the Ludwig von Mises Institute's founder, is on almost every week. Rockwell, who describes himself as a "libertarian anarchist," says, "I don't believe in the nation state. I despise the nation state. I despise nationalism." His politics mix unfettered capitalism with more than a little sympathy for the old Confederacy. On his Web site, LewRockwell.com, there's a whole section, titled "King Lincoln," devoted to articles excoriating the Civil War president.
Rockwell served as Paul's congressional chief of staff between 1978 and 1982. When news of racist articles in Ron Paul's various newsletters broke last year, the libertarian magazine Reason fingered Rockwell as the ghostwriter. He denies the charge. "That whole campaign against me was The New Republic, which is a major league war promoter," he says. "Always in its entire history, they've promoted every single rotten war that the U.S. has been engaged in." Pressed further, he says, "I've said all I'm going to say on that topic."
Before Napolitano's show started, Rockwell had been invited on Fox News a few times, but always by hosts who were attacking his views on American foreign policy. Now, he's given a respectful hearing nearly every week. "I guess because their man is not in office, therefore they're willing to consider dissenting voices," he says of the network.
On the same March program that Alex Jones appeared on, Napolitano and Rockwell discussed secessionism. "I would love to see a state legislature secede and basically say to the federal government, get the heck out of our state, and see what happens!" said Napolitano. Rockwell replied, "As the crisis deepens, I think we're going to see that... [W]e're going to see parts of the United States seceding from Washington, D.C. It's going to be a great thing." During the last eight years, Fox News has made a mission of hunting down any hint of anti-Americanism, no matter how subtle or trivial. It no longer has to look very far.
On April 20, Freedom Watch announced that the show "will be making the switch to television. We just received official word that this is happening. The new show will air during a weekend prime time spot on the Fox Business Network." The Washington Post's Dave Weigel wrote that "Napolitano's new edition of 'Freedom Watch' will be a bigger production than his web show; he snagged Austin Peterson, a new media guru who cut his teeth at the Libertarian Party, as his writer and producer." Both Weigel and blogger Charles Johnson noted Napolitano's association with Jones. Johnson added that Fox will now be "mainstreaming extremism" by putting the show on air.