In his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right (Dutton, 2003), comedian and Air America Radio host Al Franken referred to David Horowitz, editor in chief of the right-wing website FrontPageMag.com, as a "racist." Horowitz fired back in a November 30, 2004, column on FrontPageMag.com and posted a picture of Franken on the FrontPageMag.com homepage with the word "racist" printed across it in large black letters. Horowitz explained that the "photo will be prominently posted until you [Franken] apologize to me publicly for this attack." In his own November 30, 2004, column, National Review managing editor Jay Nordlinger cheered on Horowitz's "big and damning" response to Franken, calling Franken's labeling of Horowitz "asinine." But Media Matters for America and others have catalogued instances of Horowitz's racial insensitivity.
Horowitz first criticized Franken in a November 22, 2004, weblog post on FrontPageMag.com for partially blaming the 2004 presidential election results on the media for failing to "do its job." Horowitz wrote in his November 30 column that a reader emailed him after reading this post to remind him that Franken had labeled Horowitz a "racist" in 2003. In the same column, Horowitz wrote that while he previously "noticed" Franken's attack and "let it pass," he had now "decided to take notice of Franken's assault." Horowitz claimed: "There is not a single sentence, or phrase, or comment of mine that could be cited to justify Franken's attack. ... When you [Franken] have made an apology, I will disclose my evidence for characterizing you as a racist or withdraw the charge."
In 2001, Horowitz and the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a conservative think tank of which Horowitz is president and co-founder, attempted to place an advertisement in college newspapers nationwide, titled "Ten Reasons Why Reparations for Slavery is a Bad Idea -- and Racist, Too." Horowitz wanted the newspapers to publish the ad on February 28, 2001 -- the last day of Black History Month. Among the arguments listed for denying reparations were: "Reparations to African Americans Have Already Been Paid" and "What About the Debt Blacks Owe to America?" On March 1, 2001, The Daily Californian became the first newspaper to run the ad. The Californian's decision was met with harsh criticism and protest, and the paper published a public apology the following day.
Robert Chrisman, editor in chief of the journal The Black Scholar, and Ernest Allen Jr., a professor of African American studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, issued a response to Horowitz that directly challenged and refuted the ad's claims. Chrisman and Allen wrote:
While Horowitz's article [sic] pretends to address the issues of reparations, it is not about reparations at all. It is, rather, a well-heeled, coordinated attack on Black Americans which is calculated to elicit division and strife.
As one examines the text of Horowitz's article, it becomes apparent that it is not a reasoned essay addressed to the topic of reparations: it is, rather, a racist polemic against African Americans and Africans that is neither responsible nor informed, relying heavily upon sophistry and a Hitlerian "Big Lie" technique.
In addition, as MMFA has noted, TIME magazine national correspondent Jack E. White described Horowitz in an August 30, 1999, TIME article as a "real, live bigot." White's article followed an August 16, 1999, column Horowitz wrote for Salon.com, which bore the headline, "Guns don't kill black people, other blacks do." Horowitz wrote in that piece:
If blacks constitute just under half the prison population, for example, that cannot be allowed to suggest that the black community might have a problem when it comes to raising its children as law-abiding members of society. Oh no. Such a statistic can only be explained by the racism of a criminal justice system that is incarcerating too many blacks.
In his November 30, 2004, FrontPageMag.com column, Horowitz defended himself against Franken's "attack":
I have written more than a million words on racial and political matters -- all of them public record. There is not a single sentence, or phrase, or comment of mine that could be cited to justify Franken's attack.