For the community newspapers in Upstate New York, see Spotlight Newspapers.

The Spotlight was a weekly newspaper in the United States, published in Washington, D.C. from September 1975 to July 2001 by the now-defunct Liberty Lobby.[1] The Spotlight ran articles and editorials professing a "populist and nationalist" political orientation. Some observers have described the publication as promoting a right-wing, or conservative, politics.[2]

Description[edit | edit source]

The Spotlight has been described in media reports as promoting an America First position and giving positive coverage to the political campaigns of Pat Buchanan and David Duke.[3] The Spotlight gave frequent coverage to complementary and alternative medicine, including advertisements for the purported anti-cancer supplement Laetrile.[4] Kevin J. Flynn's book The Silent Brotherhood described The Spotlight as regularly featuring "articles on such topics as Bible analysis, taxes and fighting the IRS, bankers and how they bleed the middle class, and how the nation is manipulated by the dreaded Trilateral Commission and Council on Foreign Relations", adding "the paper attracted a huge diversity of readers".[5] NameBase described the newspaper as "anti-elitist, opposed the Gulf War, wanted the JFK assassination reinvestigated, and felt that corruption and conspiracies can be found in high places"[6]

Circulation[edit | edit source]

Circulation of The Spotlight peaked in 1981 at 315,000 but fell to about 90,000 by 1992.[7]

Critical reaction[edit | edit source]

The Spotlight was called "the most widely read publication on the fringe right" by the Anti-Defamation League, who also stated the newspaper "reflected Carto's conspiracy theory of history" and called the paper anti-Semitic.[2]

Interestingly "The Spotlight"'s logo and masthead matches that of the early twentieth century Klan newspaper Searchlight.

Howard J. Ruff in his 1979 book How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years praised The Spotlight for its investigative reporting while criticizing it for a "blatantly biased" right-wing point of view and concluded "there are many things I detest about it, but I wouldn't be without it."[8]

U.S. Congressman and John Birch Society leader Larry McDonald criticized The Spotlight in the Congressional Record in 1981 for purported use of the Lyndon LaRouche movement as a source of news items.[9]

Controversies[edit | edit source]

Lawsuit by E. Howard Hunt[edit | edit source]

An August 1978 article published in The Spotlight by Victor Marchetti sparked a defamation lawsuit against Liberty Lobby from former CIA agent E. Howard Hunt because the article implicated Hunt as being involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.[10] Lawyer and conspiracy author Mark Lane successfully defended Liberty Lobby against the defamation charges,[11] which became the basis for Lane's book Plausible Denial.

Timothy McVeigh[edit | edit source]

After the Oklahoma City bombing it was reported that Timothy McVeigh had taken out a classified advertisement in The Spotlight in August 1993 under the name "T. Tuttle"[12] and had used a telephone card purchased from the newspaper.[13]

End of publication[edit | edit source]

The Spotlight ceased publication in 2001 after Liberty Lobby was forced into bankruptcy as a result of a lawsuit brought by former associates in the Institute for Historical Review.[14] Willis Carto and other people involved in The Spotlight then started a new newspaper, the American Free Press, which is very similar in overall tone. An August 2, 2002 court order in the Superior Court of California transferred the assets of Liberty Lobby, including The Spotlight, to the judgment creditor, the Legion for the Survival of Freedom, Inc.[15] who maintains an online archive of Spotlight articles from 1997 to 2001.[16]

Other activities[edit | edit source]

From 1988 to 2001, the paper sponsored the Radio Free America talk show which was heard on WWCR shortwave and on AM talk radio outlets.

Notable reporters and columnists[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Michael, George Confronting Right-wing Extremism and Terrorism in the USA Routledge (31 Jul 2003) ISBN 978-0-415-31500-5 p. 17
  2. 2.0 2.1 Willis Carto, Anti-Defamation League website, accessed 4 May 2010
  3. Campbell, Linda. "Liberty Lobby in the Spotlight with Duke, Buchanan In Race", Chicago Tribune, January 12, 1992
  4. Anderson, Jack and Whitten, Les. "Liberty Lobby Bootlegs Laetrile". Sarasota Herald-Tribune, August 16, 1977
  5. Flynn, Kevin J. and Gary Gerhardt, The Silent Brotherhood, Free Press, 1989, ISBN 0-02-910312-6 p. 85
  6. "Spotlight Newspaper". NameBase. Archived from the original on 2012-01-16. Retrieved 2010-05-04. 
  7. George, John and Wilcox, Laird. Nazis, Communists, Klansmen, and Others on the Fringe, Prometheus Books, p. 260
  8. Ruff, Howard J. How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years, New York: Time Books, 1979
  9. McDonald, Larry. "Why Does Spotlight Attack the Real Anti-Communists?". Congressional Record, Vol. 127, No. 123, September 9, 1981. Posted online at
  10. 707 F2d 1493 Hunt v. Liberty Lobby, United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.
  11. 824 F2d 916 Hunt v. Marchetti, United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit.
  12. "Newspaper Focuses on Conspiracy Theories", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 11, 1995.
  13. "Spotlight on The Spotlight", Newsweek, May 15, 1995
  14. "Liberty Lobby Goes Under, Ends Spotlight Publication". Washington Times, July 10, 2001
  15. Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, North County Division. Assignment Order: Legion for the Survival of Freedom, Inc. v. Willis Carto et al., Posted online at

External links[edit | edit source]

de:The Spotlight

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