I love this.
Washington Times executives are negotiating to sell the newspaper, after the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s family cut off most of the annual subsidy of about $35 million that has kept the Unification Church-backed paper afloat, company officials said…
“The feeling everyone feels is that it’s a totally rudderless ship,” said Julia Duin, the paper’s longtime religion reporter. “Nobody knows who’s running it. Is it the board of directors? We don’t know. There was a three-foot-long black snake in the main conference room the other day. We have snakes in the newsroom — the real live variety, at least. One of the security people gallantly removed it.”
When I was a sprat growing up in DC, we had a paper calling the Evening Star. (Does anyone remember evening papers?) Eventually it became the Washington Star, which was not at all a shabby paper — a few Pulitzers, a few names still high in the journalistic heavens, like Maureen Dowd and Jonathan Yardley. The damn thing could not make money though, and eventually it was bought by Reverend Sun Myung Moon‘s Unification Church religious-huckstering empire. For those who are lucky enough never to have encountered a Moonie or paid much attention to the cult, it’s kind of like Mormonism, Scientology and Hare Krishna tossed into a blender with Sarah Palin’s underwear and a little crack. Reverend Moon is supposed to be the reborn Christ or something like it, and stated baldly that the Times was a propaganda instrument from Day One. At times it resembled a print media version of Fox News. The damn thing still could not make money, though, and has survived for nearly three decades on annual cash infusions from the church.
There were always Times loyalists who scorned the Washington Post (that evil, evil paper that reported the Watergate burglary — where has journalism of that caliber gone?) and relished the way-out-in-the-woods religious conservative stance that was rife on the editorial page. I got in a letter battle with one of them, back during Bush I, about gays in military service; he said that “homosexuals are the camel’s nose under the tent which will eventually sink our military readiness.” The mixed metaphor aside, I noted in my riposte that we doubtless had gay troops serving in the Gulf and I had heard no claims of their causing any trouble with morale, to say nothing of anything involving a camel. Oddly the Times never printed that letter.
I can’t think of a better newsroom to suffer a plague of snakes. I just hope no one hurts the snakes; they’re helpful, handsome critters, well known for discouraging rats.