Twenty-eight years after he won his only elective office as a Louisiana state representative, following a dozen losing bids for offices ranging from president to governor, David Duke is — almost incredibly — still sought out by the national media.
As reporters from across the nation and abroad covered the white supremacists’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia Saturday, Duke, onetime Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, was showcased extensively by the press.
In one widely-shown TV clip, Duke declared: [T]hat’s why we voted for Donald Trump ... because he said he's going to take our country back, and that's what we gotta do"
Trump supporters will inevitably argue that the liberal media is trotting Duke out simply to link a storied white supremacist and the president. But his string of successive losses at the polls and recent embarrassing antics have so demolished Duke's credibility that one wonders why any journalist would take him seriously.
"David Duke is a rabble rouser and a con artist," former Rep. Bob Livingston (R.-La.) told Newsmax, "He's made a living off contributions from supporters of his hate mongering, racist, xenophobic, and anti-Semitic rants leading to a felony fraud conviction and fifteen-month prison sentence. He subsequently took his neo-Nazi road show across Europe and lived in Russia for five years. The tragedy in Charlottesville provides Duke with a grand opportunity to make more money.”
In 1991, three years after he burst on the political scene, Duke made big news worldwide when he placed second in the crowded “multi-party primary” for governor of Louisiana and thus carried the Republican banner in the run-off against Democratic former Gov. Edwin Edwards.
At the time, widespread publicity was given to Duke’s claim that he was a "born-again Christian" who had shed his long record of racist and anti-Semitic beliefs and statements. Because he had accepted Christ as his savior, Duke argued, his past should not be held against him.
In a televised debate with Edwards on November 2 of that year, Duke said he belonged to the "Evangelical Baptist Church" in the New Orleans area. But reporters soon found there was no such church.
Reporters later pressed him as to when he had his born-again experience. He explained that he "was a born-again Christian at 13" and "I was born again a long time ago in my life and I was saved by Christ then."
He subsequently submitted to "theological examination" by evangelical leaders. Their spokesman Neal Curran told reporters, "When he said he had found Christ at age 13, we had to conclude he was lying. It is not possible that someone who found Christ 28 years ago could have burned the cross, could have twisted the cross into a swastika and would never have shown that he knelt at the foot of the cross until he was involved in a political campaign."
Duke spent the next decade running for office and continuing to market books and films dealing with race, conspiracy theories, and the Holocaust through an organization he started, the National Association for the Advancement of White People.
In 2002, he pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return and mail fraud. Duke went on to serve a fifteen-month prison sentence and pay a $10,000 fine for what prosecutors charged was a six-year scheme to claim he was in financial jeopardy, raise money from supporters, and then use the money for "personal investment and gambling trips."
The Louisianan would again make national news in December 2006 when he participated in the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust in Tehran, Iran. Hosted by Iranian President (and vigorous Holocaust denier) Mahmoud Ahmandinejad, the conference attracted more than 67 skeptics of the Holocaust from 30 countries.
Speaking at the conference, Duke charged that "the Zionists have used the Holocaust as a weapon to deny the rights of the Palestinians and cover up the crimes of Israel."
"He was a blot on our state, as he is on our nation," Suzie Terrell, 2002 Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Louisiana, told Newsmax, "As to why the media seeks him out and gives him a platform to this day ... no one in Louisiana has a clue. Ask them."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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