The Daily Caller’s political reporter Patrick Howley wrote an article last month asserting that former President Bill Clinton once praised a Holocaust denier.
But the Holocaust denier in question, himself a man with several aliases who’s previously admitted to fabricating information, said this week that Howley had just fallen for one of his “inventions.”
Howley’s article, dated Dec. 31, quoted from what was alleged to be a 1998 letter attributed to Clinton that praised a filmmaker named David Stein for one of his Holocaust documentaries. The Daily Caller reporter did not cite the source of the purported letter.
“It is with great pride that I recognize David Stein and his organization, the Tinbergen Archives, for their part in keeping the memory and the lessons of the Holocaust from ever being forgotten,” Clinton allegedly wrote, as quoted by Howley.
As Howley himself pointed out in the article, “David Stein” is an alias of David Cole, who called into question evidence of the Holocaust on talk shows in the early 1990s. Cole revealed in a 2013 interview with The Guardian that he had been using the name “David Stein” for years to ingratiate himself among conservatives in Hollywood, following death threats he said he’d received from militant Jewish groups.
Cole told Alternet on Wednesday that Howley contacted him in October about the purported Clinton recommendation, which Howley had found floating in the Internet ether on a website called Zoominfo.com. Cole said he told Howley that the letter “might prove false,” but Howley printed Clinton’s alleged quote anyway.
“It didn’t even enter my mind that he would go ahead with the story, even after my warning,” he told Alternet. “I mean, he’s a reporter for one of the top conservative sites in the nation, right? You’re going to write a story about a U.S. president sending a commendation letter to a ‘Holocaust denier’ without actually asking to see the letter? Who would do that?”
Cole said the Clinton recommendation Howley saw on Zoominfo — what’s posted on the cached page is actually just a blurb, not even a full letter — was a “complete invention.” Cole said he’d put the blurb up on the website, along with other fabricated information, to build a fake public relations resume for a friend who’d fallen on hard times.
Howley wrote that Cole told him a well-connected lawyer named Herbert Feiler scored him the Clinton commendation.
“Herbert was a really nice guy but i can’t make any real independent verification because at the time when that was sent to me it didn’t matter,” Cole told Howley. “I was David Stein doing work that was very very mainstream holocaust work…it wasn’t completely unthinkable that it could have been praised in one of the holocaust commemoration day ceremonies or weeks.”
That quote also suggested Cole warned Howley that he had no proof Clinton wrote him a letter. Howley noted that Feiler, the man supposedly connecting Clinton to Cole, is dead.
The Daily Caller piece remained live and uncorrected as of Friday morning. Howley did not immediately respond to a request from TPM seeking comment.
Clarification: This post has been updated to reflect that David Cole called into question evidence of the Holocaust on talk shows in the early 1990s.