Slow Burn: David Duke

Season 4: Episode 3

The Nazi and the Republicans

The woman who tried to stop David Duke, and the GOP officials who accommodated him.


Episode Notes

In 1989, David Duke got a foothold in American politics. To build on that victory, he’d have to fend off a Republican official determined to bring him down.

In the third episode of our series: the people who tried to stop David Duke’s rise, and the ones who accommodated him.

Season 4 of Slow Burn is produced by Josh Levin and Christopher Johnson. Mixing by Paul Mounsey. Slow Burn’s production assistant is Madeline Ducharme and Sophie Summergrad is the podcast’s assistant producer.

Sources for This Episode


Bridges, Tyler. The Rise and Fall of David Duke, University Press of Mississippi, 2018 (originally published in 1994).

Maginnis, John. Cross to Bear, Dark Horse Press, 1992.

Powell, Lawrence N. Troubled Memory: Anne Levy, the Holocaust, and David Duke’s Louisiana, University of North Carolina Press, 2019 (originally published in 2000).


Applebome, Peter. “Klan’s Ghost Haunts Louisiana Vote,” New York Times, Feb. 16, 1989.

Baker, Peter. “Bush Made Willie Horton an Issue in 1988, and the Racial Scars Are Still Fresh,” New York Times, Dec. 3, 2018.

Berry, Jason. “David Duke: Building a Nazi Base in Louisiana,” St. Petersburg Times, June 25, 1989.

Berry, Jason. “The Hazards of Duke,” Washington Post, May 14, 1989.

Bridges, Tyler. “Censure Duke, GOP Aide Asks,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Sept. 21, 1989.

Bridges, Tyler. “The Duke Dilemma,” 64 Parishes.

Bridges, Tyler. “Neo-Nazi Books, Videos Sold at Duke’s Legislative Office,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 1989.

Bridges, Tyler. “State GOP Votes Against Duke Probe,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Sept. 24, 1989.

DePaul, Amy. “Ex-Wife Says Duke Not Violent or Racist,” Sun-Sentinel, Feb. 23, 1989.

“Duke: I’m sorry about Nazi photo,” Associated Press, March 7, 1989.

“Ex-KKK Leader Riles, but Changes Little,” Associated Press, June 7, 1989.

“Former GOP chairman, Billy Nungesser, dies at 76,” Associated Press, Jan. 24, 2006.

Gill, James. “David Duke’s affable-yuppie pose,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Jan. 6, 1989.

Hasten, Mike. “Capital Report: Bacque gets rough treatment,” Daily Advertiser, June 11, 1989.

Hillyer, Quin. “Beth, what can we do?,” Washington Examiner, Sept. 15, 2009.

Johnson Jr., Allen. “The Education of Lance Hill,” Gambit, July 5, 2004.

Kelso, Iris. “Duke At Work,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 18, 1989.

McMahon, Bill. “GOP member claims pro-Nazi works being distributed,” Baton Rouge Advocate, June 8, 1989.

McMahon, Bill. “GOP rejects efforts to censure Duke,” Baton Rouge Advocate, Sept. 24, 1989.

Nauth, Zack. “Lawmakers: Duke flunked freshman term,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, July 16, 1989.

Oreskes, Michael. “Lee Atwater, Master of Tactics for Bush and G.O.P., Dies at 40,” New York Times, March 30, 1991.

Patriquin, Ronni. “Duke Acknowledges Holocaust Did Occur,” Shreveport Journal, June 7, 1989.

Perlstein, Rick. “Lee Atwater’s Infamous 1981 Interview on the Southern Strategy,” the Nation, Nov. 13, 2012.

Rickey, Elizabeth A. “The Nazi and the Republicans: An Insider View of the Response of the Louisiana Republican Party to David Duke,” The Emergence of David Duke and the Politics of Race, University of North Carolina Press, 1992.

“Scuffle erupts when Duke rejects Nazi alliance,” Chicago Tribune, March 5, 1989.

Sharpe, Tom. “David Duke Nemesis Dies in Santa Fe,” Santa Fe New Mexican, Sept. 14, 2009.

Stern, Kenneth. “Elizabeth Rickey, Derailed David Duke,” Forward, Sept. 16, 2009.

Supremacist David Duke attends Holocaust exhibit,” Jewish News, June 30, 1989.

Wardlaw, Jack. “Photograph with Nazi is a smear, Duke says,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, March 7, 1989.

Welsh, James and Kim Chatelain. “Candidates Battle Ghosts in Race for House Seat—Duke Aways Controversial,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, Feb. 5, 1989.

Zurawik, David. “Lee Atwater: The dark and dirty side of GOP politics,” Baltimore Sun, Nov. 10, 2008.


David Duke, Metairie, LA, interview 1, 1985-03-18, Evelyn Rich Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Slate Plus Member Content Bonus Episode

The Holocaust Survivor and the White Supremacist

As David Duke’s profile rose in Louisiana and beyond, Anne Levy realized she had to speak up.


About the Show

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a white supremacist became an American political phenomenon. David Duke’s rise to power and prominence—his election to the Louisiana Legislature, and then his campaigns for the U.S. Senate and the governorship—was an existential crisis for the state and the nation. The fourth season of Slate’s Slow Burn will explore how a Nazi sympathizer and former Klansman fashioned himself into a mainstream figure, and why some voters came to embrace his message. It will also examine how activists, journalists, and ordinary citizens confronted Duke’s candidacy, and what it took to stop him.

The season is hosted by Josh Levin, a longtime Slow Burn editor and native Louisianian.

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