In 1919, Henry Ford, already a famous industrialist, purchased the Dearborn Independent (The Ford International Weekly) newspaper and used the paper as a vehicle to spread his anti-Semitic, anti-labor and anti-immigration rhetoric.
The anti-Semitism of the Independent was blatant. It published a series of anti-Semitic articles under the title “The International Jew,” which were later compiled and published as a book. (Not surprisingly, Hitler was a great fan of both the book and of Henry Ford.) The Independent also published sections of the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a proven forgery. (The Protocols, published in Russia, were purported to be the plans of an international Jewish conspiracy for world domination.)
The Independent’s distribution was huge, as Ford established quotas of distribution for all Ford dealerships.
Ford also used his paper for personal attacks and was sued, unsuccessfully, for libel on several occasions. In 1924, however, the libel suit of Aaron Sapiro, a Jewish farm cooperative organizer, made it to trial. Through the “International Jew,” Ford had accused him of misleading the rural poor into cooperatives as a means of crushing their individualism, which was all part of an insidious Jewish conspiracy. It was a headline case that was not as easily dismissed as Ford had hoped, and when it appeared that he might not win, Ford (it is speculated) faked an automobile accident to avoid testifying. Ford also claimed (falsely) that his aide Ernest Liebold and the paper’s editor William Cameron wrote the anti-Semitic pieces without his knowledge. The trial ended in a mistrial and Ford decided to settle rather than go through a retrial.
The settlement was negotiated by Louis Marshall, chairman of the American Jewish Committee, and included an apology and a promise to print no more articles about Jews. Ford’s retraction was issued on June 30, 1927.
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