Father Coughlin

Right-wing talk radio in America didn’t begin with Rush Limbaugh. Almost a century ago, with Hitler and Mussolini ascendant overseas, an anti-Semitic Catholic priest named Father Charles Coughlin hosted a “fiery nationalist radio program [that] reached up to forty million listeners a week.”

Father Coughlin was openly antidemocratic, calling for the abolition of political parties and questioning the value of elections. His newspaper, Social Justice, adopted pro-fascist positions in the 1930s, naming Mussolini its “Man of the Week” and often defending the Nazi regime.

— Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, How Democracies Die 34 (2018).