Last May, William Johnson stepped down as a delegate for Donald Trump to the GOP national convention after Mother Jones revealed him to be the leader of the white nationalist American Freedom Party. Reluctant to draw negative attention to Trump, Johnson has largely receded from view since then—until yesterday, when the Los Angeles Times reported that Johnson’s white nationalist super-PAC is funding pro-Trump radio ads set to run in more than a half dozen states.
“It is certainly to help Trump,” Johnson told me. “If you look at the content of the radio ad, it promotes what Trump stands for. And every time people read these things, it helps convince them. There’s been 50 years of propaganda on the other side, so it is going to take a long process to change people’s opinion and this is just one step in that direction.”
The spot will begin running on Saturday on The Political Cesspool, a show hosted by AFP co-director James Edwards, and on Liberty RoundTable, a radio program where Edwards is listed as a “columnist.” Trump’s son Donald Jr. has appeared on Liberty Roundtable with Edwards, and this week Trump’s son Eric also appeared on the show.
Unlike robocalls that Johnson recorded during the GOP primary in support of Trump, the new radio ads do not explicitly mention race. “Do you want a strong leader who will secure our borders and stop the flow of illegal aliens and radical Islamic terrorists,” the ad says in part. The ad discloses that it is paid for by “William Johnson, a farmer and a deplorable.”
Johnson had originally wanted to call himself “a farmer and a white nationalist,” he told me, but Edwards preferred “deplorable,” a term that’s been taken up by white supremacists on social media ever since Hillary Clinton thrust it into the election. “It’s tongue-in-cheek,” Johnson says. “It’s like the term ‘gay’ used to mean something else, and now it’s positive in the homosexual community. Maybe ‘deplorable’ will become a positive term.”