A financial publisher that caters to conservative readers has been advertising in American Free Press, a fringe outlet that publishes anti-Semitic material and promotes Holocaust denial.
Agora Financial is a Baltimore-based company that publishes financial newsletters and commentaries. The publisher and its parent company, The Agora, are notorious for sketchy sponsored emails pitched to conservatives through the mailing lists of media personalities like Mike Huckabee, Dick Morris, and Newt Gingrich. Over the years, media outlets such as Fox News, CNBC, Forbes, and The Washington Post have interviewed Agora staff as experts on financial matters.
Mother Jones senior reporter Tim Murphy wrote in December 2015 that Agora “subsidiaries and affiliates publish more than 40 newsletters and sell more than 300 books on a range of topics, including biblical health tips, natural-healing supplements, and ‘insider’ investment advice—a mix of ideas the company considers the intellectual equivalent of the marketplace of ancient Athens.” Agora-affiliated companies have sent emails that include such titles as “Obama's 'Secret Mistress' Exposed” and ” Fort Knox is Empty (the Gold's Missing...)." And one affiliate has repeatedly hawk supposed biblical cancer cures.
American Free Press, meanwhile, has been described by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as “an anti-Semitic conspiracy-oriented newspaper” that attracts “the most vitriolic anti-Semites.” The late Willis Carto, who helped found the publication, “used lobbying and publishing to denigrate Jews and other minorities and galvanize the movement to deny the Holocaust."
The publication has repeatedly promoted Holocaust denial (though the site appears to have recently scrubbed some of its Holocaust denials following Media Matters criticism). The site’s bookstore sells The Holocaust Never Happened & The CIA Killed JFK, which claims to “destroy the hoax of the 6 million Jewish victims of Nazi Germany.”
The garbage published in recent print editions of American Free Press includes: a self-defense for promoting material that offers “an alternative view” of the Holocaust; a claim that Israel was tied to the 9/11 attacks; and praise for white supremacists like David Duke and Matthew Heimbach for getting involved in political organizing. One of the publication’s main print writers is neo-Nazi John Friend, who has claimed that the Holocaust is “one of the most egregious and outrageous falsehoods ever perpetrated,” “Jews did 9/11,” and Adolf Hitler was “the greatest thing that's happened to Western civilization.”
Google’s online advertising program terminated its relationship with the publication earlier this year after Media Matters criticized the online giant for helping it gain revenue.
Agora has paid for print and email advertising with American Free Press. Media Matters received an email advertisement from Agora Financial through American Free Press' email list on May 24.
The firm has also repeatedly placed advertisements in American Free Press’ biweekly print newspaper in the past year, according to a Media Matters review. (The most recent advertisement can be found here.)
Agora Financial managing director Mike Pizzo responded to inquiries from Media Matters via email by distancing the company from the monetary support for the publication: “As policy we don’t publicly comment on the type, size or scope of our advertising efforts, however it appears this media buy was part of a very small test campaign. We were not aware [of] nor condone the anti-Semitic content. We have passed this information along to the 3rd party list broker that placed the spot.”
He added in response to a follow-up question that “the print ad agreement you were referring to was part of a 1 year test contract that recently ended. I just made our print mediabuyer aware of the anti-Sematic [sic] claims and we are taking a deeper look into the placement and subsequently reevaluating placing future ads within the publication.”*
*Updated to include more of Agora Financial's comments to Media Matters.