I love this.

Unification Church will put Washington Times up for sale

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.

Just sayin’.



  1. Still, the Washington Times won its share of awards and did publish some newsworthy items that did not make the pages of the Post. I usually read both papers (and the New York Post for giggles, in every life a little trash must come!) While I think the paper was qualitatively better than it could have been considering its origins, and it certainly improved over time, I wouldn’t be stunned if it folded. Newspapers are going the way of the biplane.

    I met any number of people affiliated in some way with the paper. It was a valiant struggle by a lot people who didn’t have the least bit of interest in Daddy Moneybags, the Rev. Moon, but wanted a center-right paper of some sort in the D.C. Metro area. It is a niche market product that has been surpassed in every respect by competitors in a very tough market where digital and instant are everything today.

    I remember early issues of the Times, they were patchy and often lacking. Over the years, I saw improvements. They ran a Civil War section that I always thought served as a measure of that slow improvement. As time went on, the articles were generally better written, more scholarly, often better edited and on topic of interest even to me, who is not a Civil War buff.

    They published a number of my letters over the years too. I see editions of the paper for sale way out here, hours away from the Washington Metro area, right next to the Post, the NY Post and NY Times. Usually, I just look at the Internet for news.

    • I suppose it was a moral dilemma — let DC remain a one-paper town or work for a narcissistic religious whack job like Moon? Since my college was just up the road from a Unification Church “training center,” which was as appalling as you hear about — we had people escape onto the campus, pleading to be hidden — I had a visceral reaction to his buying the newspaper and to journalists of any caliber making the bargain to work for it.

      Also, Wes Pruden (the senior editor) was and is a snotty bastard.

      But that Civil War insert was a well-done thing. When my late and ex, a lifelong hobbyist of Civil War history, was in the hospital, he reminded me every week to get him the Saturday issue so he could read it.

  2. 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.

    Well said!

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