Willis Carto archive

Including information about his associates

What’s Behind the Carto-IHR Dispute?

Willis Carto’s Campaign Against the Institute for Historical Review

By Mark Weber
Editor, The Journal of Historical Review
Institute for Historical Review

Since its founding in 1978, Willis A. Carto has been associated with the Institute for Historical Review. Since September 1993, when his relationship with the IHR was terminated, this nervous, enigmatic and influential 67-year-old has been waging a vengeful propaganda campaign against the IHR staff and prominent IHR supporters.

Carto is circulating stories that the IHR has been taken over and is now controlled by the Zionist Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, and that an evil conspiracy is at work to destroy the IHR. He spreads these and similar charges in the pages of The Spotlight (an East coast weekly paper he controls), in mailings (fraudulently issued on IHR letterhead), and over the Carto-controlled Radio Free America program.

These claims are malicious and absurd lies, as any reader of recent issues of our Journal can easily determine for himself.


Carto’s claim to be the founder of the IHR is actually a polite fiction. In fact, the person who came up with the idea and the name, and who first proposed IHR conferences and The Journal of Historical Review, was David McCalden, an Irish-born writer who died in 1990. Carto is the founder only in so far as he, with assistance from others, supported and helped to facilitate McCalden’s initiative.

For years Carto used deceit and fraud to maintain illicit control of the IHR (and Noontide Press), and its parent corporation, the Legion for the Survival of Freedom, Inc. Carto was neither an employee, an officer, nor a director of the IHR or the LSF. He claimed merely to be an agent or unpaid consultant of IHR/LSF. As he himself has admitted, Carto played little or no role in day to day operations of the IHR/LSF, and contributed no money of his own to its support.

Carto took care to keep the legally responsible corporate directors in total ignorance about IHR/LSF finances and operations, while simultaneously keeping those who carried out the work of the IHR/LSF in ignorance about the activities and even the identities of the directors. Carto also routinely fabricated fraudulent minutes of corporate board meetings that never took place. For five years, he even listed a dead man as a corporate director and chief executive officer in official state filings.

Just as he is not ashamed to demand that others take legal and public responsibility for his mistakes, he is not embarrassed to take credit for the accomplishments of others. For example, Carto takes credit for a collection of essays distributed by Liberty Lobby entitled Profiles in Populism. Because Carto had a falling out with the man who wrote nearly the entire book, a Liberty Lobby employee named Robert Shaw, all mention of Shaw’s name was eliminated from the volume. Instead, Carto put his own name on the cover, identifying himself as the book’s editor.

Carto’s secretive and dictatorial management style is also manifest in his operation of The Spotlight. Although he has dictatorial control over every word that appears in this nationally-circulated weekly, his name is missing from the paper’s masthead. His writing in the paper normally appears anonymously, or under one of several pen names. While The Spotlight claims to reveal the secret forces that control the world, it carefully refuses to tell its readers who calls the shots at Liberty Lobby and its weekly paper.

Even the Chairman of the Liberty Lobby’s Board of Policy is, in fact, merely a puppet whom Carto can dismiss in an instant. That’s what Chairman Gardiner Rogers found out when he refused to obey Carto’s order to put his signature on a deceitful pitch letter Carto had written. Robert Bartell, another Liberty Lobby Chairman, was likewise perfunctorily dismissed by Carto.

The decision to terminate Carto’s relationship with the IHR/LSF was made only after months of careful consideration, and on advice of legal counsel. We reluctantly came to the conclusion that his continued involvement with the IHR/LSF threatened its integrity and even its existence.


It is a mark of Carto’s character that his relationship with every single IHR director and IHR Journal editor eventually ended in acrimony. In recent years, Carto’s behavior had become ever more erratic. As a result of his often rude, impulsive, and irrational behavior, he had alienated the entire staff in the months prior to September. So intolerable had the situation become that the managerial and editorial staff was prepared to resign unless he was removed.

A major factor in the decision by the IHR staff to oppose Carto was his announced intention to drastically change the content and direction of the IHR’s acclaimed Journal of Historical Review. After consulting only with himself, he announced in early 1993 that by the end of year no more than 20 percent of Journal content would deal with the Holocaust issue. He ordered me, as editor, to play down this issue. Eventually, Carto declared, Holocaust-related material would be eliminated entirely from the Journal, and the periodical’s name would be changed.

The focus of the new Journal, he repeatedly insisted, would be race and multiculturalism. For example, in one written memo, Carto called for an article to appear in the Journal proving the partial African ancestry of President Eisenhower. Or, in Carto’s graceless language, Eisenhower: ¼ nigger! While acknowledging that race and multiculturalism are certainly important issues, worthy of serious consideration, the IHR staff told Carto that to transform our Journal into such a periodical would be suicidal.

We discussed Carto’s plans with important members of our Editorial Advisory Committee - including Dr. Arthur Butz and Prof. Robert Faurisson — as well as friends of the IHR such as British historian David Irving. Everyone agreed that to transform the Journal as Carto was insisting would be disastrous.

Still, Carto willfully sought to carry out this change with contemptuous disregard for the views of IHR Director Tom Marcellus and editors Ted O’Keefe, Greg Raven and myself, as well as of our most trusted and valuable contributors. When I told Carto of the concerns, for example, of Dr. Butz — the Northwestern University associate professor who wrote The Hoax of the Twentieth Century — Carto angrily responded by shouting To hell with Butz! Because I resisted Carto’s diktat, he began secret efforts to replace me as editor.

In addition, Carto recklessly involved the IHR/LSF in three costly copyright infringement suits (for which he made others bear the legal responsibility). Finally, we learned that Carto had been covertly squandering IHR/LSF funds. We uncovered evidence to show that he had secretly transferred large amounts of IHR/LSF money to unrelated Carto-controlled enterprises. We have documentary evidence to show that he arranged for the illegal transfer of $100,000 of IHR/LSF money to Liberty Lobby, and we suspect that he has arranged other, similarly large illicit transfers.

Ouster and Vindication

Last summer, after failing to dissuade Carto from his course, the IHR staff approached the Board of Directors to petition for his removal from the affairs of the IHR/LSF. In late September, the Board terminated Carto’s role as agent for the IHR/LSF.

Although challenged by Carto, the validity of this action was confirmed by Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Polis in a December 31 ruling. Polis reconfirmed this ruling at another hearing on April 1.

The California Court’s ruling represents a decisive affirmation of our position throughout this entire affair. In fact, wrote Judge Polis, Willis Carto was exercising substantial control over the Legion [IHR/Noontide] without any apparent legal authority. Moreover, the Judge went on, The [Carto] corporate minutes and declarations regarding any other alleged director(s) are untrustworthy as evidence and disbelieved by this court. This is a polite way of saying that Carto repeatedly lied in this matter.

Although the staff took steps to insure that the IHR/LSF operate on a sound legal and ethical basis, we never wanted or sought a public dispute with Carto. In fact, we have done everything reasonable to avoid just such a messy squabble. Time and time again we have attempted to reach a quiet and mutually tolerable settlement with Carto. We are still trying. At every turn, though, he has contemptuously rejected any compromise. A good example of this came on October 15, two weeks after his ouster. After agreeing to meet with us at our attorney’s office to work out a peaceful settlement, Carto instead showed up at the IHR offices with several hired thugs to forcibly take control. (After holding the office for about an hour, he was arrested on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon, and taken away by the police in handcuffs.)

Toward the Future

On the basis of his actions since September 1993 alone, Carto has shown himself to be a man of severely flawed judgment who cannot be entrusted with major responsibility. If Carto sincerely believes the story he has been circulating about the IHR being controlled by the Zionist ADL, he is a fool. If he does not believe it, he is a liar. In either case, he has shown that he is intellectually and morally unfit to hold a position of authority in any serious, responsible organization. With the passage of time, the absurdity of Carto’s lies about the IHR will become ever more obvious.

In the current Spotlight campaign against the IHR, as he has throughout his life, Carto continues to hide behind others. This adamant refusal to be accountable has long been his way of doing things. To be blunt, such behavior is the essence of cowardice and irresponsibility.

No longer able to control it, Carto is now acting as a vengeful enemy of the IHR. But he is neither our first nor by any means our most formidable adversary. He will continue to do some damage, but he lacks the resources, temperament, and sagacity to seriously hamper our work.

In this dispute, we are gratified that none of the IHR’s most important supporters has publicly sided with Carto. In fact, the most prominent and valued friends of the IHR are staunchly siding with us. It appears that the only persons who are publicly siding with Carto are either employees who are accustomed to carrying out his orders, or individuals whose commitment to the IHR and its work is so tenuous that they do not even subscribe to the IHR Journal.

For those of us who work here, Carto’s departure has brought a kind of spiritual liberation. More important, the termination of his association removes a major organizational and public relations liability, and enables even greater IHR growth and impact in the years to come. With Carto gone, we are now able — for the first time ever — to insure that the IHR operates on a sound legal and ethical basis.

In recent months, sales of our books and tapes have been better than ever. Journal subscriptions nearly tripled during the past year. Contributions in recent months have likewise been very good, and the IHR’s impact and influence appear to be greater than ever. (For example, on March 20 millions of television viewers heard about the IHR and saw the front cover of the Nov.-Dec. 1993 IHR Journal on 60 Minutes.)

The response — in both financial and morale terms — to our February mailing to Journal subscribers about the Carto-IHR dispute has been gratifying. In addition to expressions of support from around the world, financial contributions have been very good. One supporter alone donated $13,000.

Those of us who carry out the work of the IHR pledge to continue on the same path. As in the past, we ask people to judge us by our work and impact.

For those who wish to know more about the Carto-IHR dispute, for a minimum contribution of five dollars to cover our costs, we will mail a collection of documents and other background material detailing the entire story. Write to: IHR, PO Box 2739, Newport Beach, CA 92659.

Reprinted from Christian News (New Haven, MO.)
Monday, April 25, 1994, page 18.