Holocaust Revisionist Manipulates the Media

Published: 1999-12-03

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For someone who wants an “open debate” over the particulars of the Holocaust, Bradley R. Smith sure does avoid having an open conversation.

The Holocaust revisionist will only be interviewed by the print press through e-mail. “It is very rare that a reporter understands what the story is,” he says, over e-mail, of course.

And when it comes to radio or television reporters, he will do only live interviews, calling pre-taped packaged news reports “canned.”

Live interviews allow him to preach unedited, a staple of his guerilla campaign to spread the word that the Holocaust is nothing but an exaggeration of a small-scale tragedy. (He estimates only 300,000 to one million Jews died in the Holocaust, not the widely accepted figure of six million.)

Smith has mastered the media by placing provocative, cheap advertisements in college newspapers.

When the ads are printed, a firestorm of controversy ensues, drawing in the local community newspaper to cover what is then considered “news.”

“If a newspaper doesn’t print his advertisement, he [Smith] loses 33 cents,” says Leo Shane III, editor in chief of The Review in 1997. “If we do print it, he loses no credibility -he has none - and the newspaper is attacked.

“It is sickening how well he does it.” Shane, who now works as a reporter at The Intelligencer Record in Doylestown, Pa., should know. The December 5, 1997, issue of The Review ran not only Smith’s advertisement, but also an editorial column by the man whom the Anti-Defamation League calls a veteran Holocaust denier and hate-peddler.

ADL’s Jeffrey Ross, the director of campus affairs for the organization formed to fight anti-Semitism, says Smith and his campaign have pushed Holocaust revisionism to the forefront.

He says that before the 1990s, Holocaust revisionism hardly ever came up in discussions about the Holocaust.

But that has all changed. “Holocaust denial has been put on the map, I would argue more than any other way, through his campus campaign,” Ross says.

Smith says he targets college newspapers for several reasons. He says college campuses are where “intellectual freedom is supposed to be the ideal” and a place where there are large numbers of young “open-minded” people.

A college campus, Smith says, is a self-contained community where, when a story develops, there is a chance it will get the attention of a large percentage of the population.

He says that before the 1990s, Holocaust revisionism hardly ever came up in discussions about the Holocaust.

But that has all changed. “Holocaust denial has been put on the map, I would argue more than any other way, through his campus campaign,” Ross says.

Ross offers other reasons why Smith uses the college media. For one thing, Ross says, newsrooms on college campuses are almost always filled with young journalists working at the student newspaper while juggling classwork.

“In many cases,” he says, “you have a unique mixture of idealism and naivete and in other cases you have sloppiness and stupidity.”

But Smith strongly denies he tricks busy college students by disguising his ads as First Amendment-related, calling those who believe that “cry babies.”

“The cry baby factor,” he says,

“is simply one more ruse to get away from the, revisionist text.” Intellectual freedom and First Amendment rights are causes Smith mentions often, but Ross says they are used only to steer the focus away from Smith’s inane beliefs.

“It is not a First Amendment issue,” he says, “although it masquerades as one.”

Smith says he is not questioning whether the Holocaust occurred, but added that he is skeptical about “war stories.”

“The Holocaust,” he says, “is an immense collection of war stories written by the victor, embellished in a cultural environment that precludes honest discourse, prohibits skepticism and punishes those who do not follow the orthodox line on the matter.”

In writings posted to his Committee For Open Debate on the Holocaust Web site, he professes that he “no longer believes the German state pursued a plan to kill all Jews or used homicidal gassing chambers for mass murder.”

Ross says Smith’s goal is simple: to legitimize Holocaust denial as a valid Holocaust study - to create a debate where there is none.

Smith, a 69-year-old high-school graduate, lives in Baja, Mexico, with his wife Irene. He has two daughters: Magaly, 26, working in the San Diego school system, and Paloma, 13, who lives with him and goes to junior high school in Mexico.

He says he graduated from Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles and was brought up in a Catholic family. But he says he put his religious beliefs to rest when he was 13.

“I bought a horse and gave up the Sunday school,” he says. “When I was 20, I cut a deal with God: I leave him alone, he leaves me alone.”

But no such arrangement exists between Smith and the college newspapers he hounds.

Smith says he got the idea for the ad campaign in 1989 after he sent Penn State University’s daily student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, a 1-inch by 1-inch ad offering access to a revisionist scholarship.

The ad caused quite a stir and the paper ended up pulling it from further issues and returning Smith’s payment.

“I was taken by surprise at all the excitement,” he says. And ever since, he has been spouting off about the “truths” of the Holocaust from the office in his home.

Although he has never been to Poland and seen Auschwitz for himself, Smith says he doesn’t have to go there to know what really happened.

“I don’t have to schlep around Europe looking at collapsed morgues to argue for intellectual freedom,” Smith says. “I can do it without ever leaving the room I work in.”

For those not familiar with Smith, Ross says to simply look at the latest anti-Semitic ad Smith is peddling to college newspapers across the country.

The ad calls “Schindler’s List” a “cheap novel” and Smith says the film’s Oscar win was no surprise.

“The film industry,” he says, “is run from the top down by Jews and expressions of anti-German bigotry.”

His unorthodox views, to put it lightly, have not made him a popular person across the country, and that includes the University of Delaware’s campus.

Sara Horowitz, the director of Jewish Studies at the university when The Review ran the ad, says Smith is a flat-out liar.

“At heart,” she says, “his message is just so blatantly false and he’s showing an incredible disrespect for the intelligence of the students.”

Shane, the editor who unwittingly ran Smith’s advertisement in 1997, says the experience opened his eyes to all forms of hate.

“It is not the Ku Klux Klan marching down Main Street in their robes,” he says. “It is a subversive letter campaign with a much more scarier bigot than there used to be.” The ADL’s Ross agrees: “This is sort of the white-collar version of the hate movement, but part of the hate movement nonetheless. He is out to peddle a message of hate.”

But the peddling, Smith says, is not going to end any time soon. He sent out 250 advertisements to college papers this year, spending an estimated $15,000.

The money comes from The Smith Report, a newsletter he publishes. While the newsletter costs a small amount, he uses it to solicit large sums of money from a few individuals.

He says the newsletter has a subscriber base of only about 2,000, but quickly adds that his Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust Web site gets 15 to 25,000 hits a day - a number that is hard to confirm or deny.

Ross dedicates most of his time to tracking Smith and trying to get the word out to college newspaper editors about the ad campaign.

He says the institutional memory at college newspapers is not strong.

“Every year on a college campus, 25 percent of the people are people who haven’t been there before,” he says. “And four years down the road, most of the student body has turned over.”

The December 5, 1997, issue of The Review spawned the same conflict played out at more than 200 college campuses across the country since Smith began his campaign in 1991.

In 1998 alone, the ADL says 26 student newspapers ran the ad, including Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Kent State University and the University of Vermont.

At many of the schools where the advertisement is printed, a controversy ensues along with a moral quandary: What to do with the check Smith sent to pay for the ad?

Offered the money by apologetic college journalists, many Jewish groups have refused the money, calling it tainted. Usually the check is just tom up and discarded. Smith calls that “a little piece of theater to suppress the minority view.”

But either way, Smith comes out on top. “He laughs all the way to the bank,” Ross says. “For him, whatever happens is a win-win situation.”

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Melissa Hankins , Ryan Cormier
Title: Holocaust Revisionist Manipulates the Media
Sources: The Review, University of Delaware December 3, 1999
Published: 1999-12-03
First posted on CODOH: Nov. 22, 2015, 12:15 p.m.
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