Front page for August 22, 2016
|Owner(s)||Operations Holdings (via The Washington Times, LLC)|
|Founder(s)||Sun Myung Moon|
|General manager||David Dadisman|
|News editor||Victor Morton|
|Managing editor, design||Cathy Gainor|
|Opinion editor||Charles Hurt|
|Sports editor||David Eldridge|
|Founded||May 17, 1982|
|Headquarters||3600 New York Avenue NE|
|Circulation||59,185 daily (as of November 2013)|
The Washington Times is an American daily newspaper that covers general interest topics with a particular emphasis on American politics. It was founded on May 17, 1982, by Sun Myung Moon (the leader of Unification Church, also known as the Unification movement) and owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate founded by Moon, until 2010, when Moon and a group of former executives purchased the paper. It is currently owned by the conglomerate Operations Holdings, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Unification movement. Its daily edition is distributed throughout the District of Columbia and sections of Maryland and Virginia. A weekly tabloid edition aimed at a national audience is also published.
Widely described as a conservative newspaper,The Washington Times was praised by Republican president Ronald Reagan and published racially incendiary commentary and promoted conspiracy theories about Democratic president Barack Obama. It has published numerous columns that reject the scientific consensus on climate change. Under Wes Pruden's editorship (1992-2008), The Washington Times was noted for its association with white supremacism, as it regularly printed excerpts from white supremacist publications and published laudatory pieces about white supremacists and the Confederacy.
The Washington Times was founded in 1982 by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with the Unification movement which also owns newspapers in South Korea, Japan, and South America, as well as the news agency United Press International.Bo Hi Pak, the chief aide of church founder and leader Sun Myung Moon, was the founding president and the founding chairman of the board. Moon asked Richard L. Rubenstein, a rabbi and college professor who had written on the Holocaust, to serve on the board of directors. The newspaper's first editor and publisher was James R. Whelan.
At the time of founding of The Washington Times, Washington had only one major newspaper, The Washington Post. Massimo Introvigne, in his 2000 book The Unification Church, said that the Post had been "the most anti-Unificationist paper in the United States." In 2002, at an event held to celebrate the Times's 20th anniversary, Moon said: "The Washington Times is responsible to let the American people know about God" and "The Washington Times will become the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world."
The Times was founded the year after the Washington Star, the previous "second paper" of D.C., went out of business, after operating for over a hundred years. A large percentage of the staff came from the Washington Star. When the Times began, it was unusual among American broadsheets in publishing a full color front page, along with full color front pages in all its sections and color elements throughout. Although USA Today used color in the same way, it took several years for The Washington Post, The New York Times, and others to do the same. The Times originally published its editorials and opinion columns in a physically separate Commentary section, rather than at the end of its front news section as is common practice in U.S. newspapers. It ran television commercials highlighting this fact. Later, this practice was abandoned (except on Sundays, when many other newspapers, including the Post, also do it). The Washington Times also used ink that it advertised as being less likely to come off on the reader's hands than the Post's. This design and its editorial content attracted "real influence" in Washington. When the Times began it had 125 reporters, 25 percent of them Unification Church members. In 1982 the Post criticized the Times for killing critic Scott Sublett's negative review of the movie Inchon, which was also sponsored by the Unification Church.
A former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, David Frum, in his 2000 book How We Got Here: The '70s, wrote that Moon had granted the Times editorial independence. But some former employees, including the newspaper's first editor and publisher, James R. Whelan, have insisted that the paper was under Moon's control from the beginning. Whelan, whose contract guaranteed editorial autonomy, left the paper when the owners refused to renew the contract, asserting that "I have blood on my hands" for helping Moon acquire legitimacy. Three years later, editorial page editor William P. Cheshire and four of his staff resigned, charging that, at the explicit direction of Sang Kook Han, a top official of the Unification Church, then-editor Arnaud de Borchgrave had stifled editorial criticism of political repression in South Korea.
After a brief editorship under Smith Hempstone, Arnaud de Borchgrave, an American journalist with an extensive career with the United Press International and Newsweek, was named executive editor on 20 March 1985. He mounted a fund-raising drive for Contras rebels in Nicaragua and helped obtain information leading to the arresst of Nazi war criminals. He gave up editorial control in 1991.
Washington Times reporters visited imprisoned South African civil rights activist Nelson Mandela during the 1980s. Mandela wrote of them in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, "They seemed less intent on finding out my views than on proving that I was a Communist and a terrorist. All of their questions were slanted in that direction, and when I reiterated that I was neither a Communist nor a terrorist, they attempted to show that I was not a Christian either by asserting that the Reverend Martin Luther King never resorted to violence."
Times reporter Peggy Weyrich quit in 1991 after one of her articles about Anita Hill's testimony in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nominee hearings was rewritten to depict Hill as a "fantasizer."
President Ronald Reagan is said to have read The Washington Times every day during his presidency. In 1997 he said, "The American people know the truth. You, my friends at The Washington Times, have told it to them. It wasn't always the popular thing to do. But you were a loud and powerful voice. Like me, you arrived in Washington at the beginning of the most momentous decade of the century. Together, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. And--oh, yes--we won the Cold War."
Wesley Pruden was named executive editor of the newspaper in 1992. During his editorship, the paper took a strongly conservative stance. Controversy ensued when Pruden was accused of pushing nativism.
In 1992 North Korean president Kim Il Sung gave his first and only interview with the Western news media to Washington Times reporter Josette Sheeran (who later became Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme).
In 1992 The New York Times reported that The Washington Times had only one-eighth the circulation of the Post (100,000 compared to 800,000) and that two-thirds of its subscribers also subscribed to the Post. In 1994 the Washington Times introduced a weekly national edition. It was published in a tabloid format and distributed nationwide.
In 1995, The Washington Times fired Samuel T. Francis, a columnist and editor, for making racist comments at a conference hosted by the white supremacist magazine American Renaissance. When Francis died in 2005, The Washington Times wrote a glowing obituary, which omitted Francis's racist and white nationalist beliefs, as well as his firing from The Times.
In a 1997 column for The Washington Times, Gaffney alleged a seismic incident in Russia was a nuclear detonation at that nation's Novaya Zemlya test site, which meant that Russia had violating the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTB). Reporting on the allegation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists observed that, following its publication, "fax machines around Washington, D.C. and across the country poured out pages detailing Russian duplicity. They came from Frank Gaffney", going on to note that during the first four months of 1997, Gaffney had "issued more than 25 screeds" against the CTB. Subsequent scientific analysis of the Novaya Zemlya event confirmed that it was a routine earthquake.
In 1997 the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, which is critical of U.S. and Israeli policies, praised The Times, along with The Christian Science Monitor, owned by the Church of Christ, Scientist, and the Times sister publication The Middle East Times, for what it called their objective and informative coverage of Islam and the Middle East, while criticizing the generally pro-Israel editorial policy of the Times. The Report suggested that these newspapers, being owned by churches, were less influenced by pro-Israel pressure groups in the United States. In 1998 the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram wrote that the Times editorial policy was "rabidly anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and pro-Israel."
In 2002 the Times published a story accusing the National Educational Association (NEA), the largest teachers' union in the United States, of teaching students that the policies of the U.S. government were partly to blame for the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. This accusation was denied by the NEA.
In addition to giving voice to stories that, as Pruden says, "others miss," the Times plays an important role in Washington's journalistic farm system. The paper has been a springboard for young reporters to jobs at The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, even the Post. Lorraine Woellert, who worked at the Times from 1992 to 1998, says her experience there allowed her to jump directly to her current job at Business Week. "I got a lot of opportunities very quickly. They appreciated and rewarded talent and, frankly, there was a lot of turnover."
In his 2003 book Lies (And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them): A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, comedian, author, and later Democratic senator Al Franken devoted a chapter to criticizing the Times after executive editor Wesley Pruden rewrote a reporter's story, without the reporter's knowledge, about Franken's performance at a White House party. According to Franken, the rewrite was made to appear as if Franken had received a negative reception, which he says was not the case.
In 2004 The Washington Post reported that "Insiders say the church's new line is that with the end of the Cold War, it's important to support international organizations such as the United Nations and to campaign for world peace and interfaith understanding. That stance would be awkward for The Washington Times's hard-line editor in chief, Wesley Pruden, and its stable of neoconservative columnists."
In 2006 Max Blumenthal, writing in The Nation, reported that Moon's second oldest son Hyun Jin Moon, who had become president and CEO of parent company News World Communications, was in the process of ousting managing editor Francis Coombs because of accusations of racist editorializing. Blumenthal, quoting veteran Times news reporter George Archibald and others, reported that Coombs had made a number of racist and sexist comments, and was in the process of being sued by his colleagues for his remarks.
As of 2007, home delivery of the paper in its local area was made in bright orange plastic bags, with the words "Brighter. Bolder. The Washington Times" and a slogan that changes. Two of the slogans were: "The voice and choice of discerning readers" and "You're not getting it all without us."
In a February 2013 article, the Columbia Journalism Review reported that the Times "became a forum for the racialist hard right, including white nationalists, neo-Confederates, and anti-immigrant scare mongers" under Pruden's editorship (1992-2008). Between 1998 and 2004, the Times covered every biennial American Renaissance conference, hosted by the white supremacist New Century Foundation. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, "the paper's coverage of these events--which are hotbeds for holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis, and eugenicists--was stunningly one sided," favorably depicting the conference content and conference goers.
Under Pruden's editorship, the Times regularly printed excerpts from white supremacist publications, such as VDARE and American Renaissance magazine, and Bill White, leader of the American National Socialist Workers' Party, in its Culture Briefs section. Under Pruden's editorship, an entire page in the Sunday edition was devoted to the American Civil War, often times glorifying the Confederacy. Robert Stacy McCain, a member of the neo-Confederate hate group League of the South, was hired to the Times and promoted to edit the Culture Briefs section, which became, according to Max Blumenthal, "a bulletin board for the racialist far right."
Pruden himself authored columns where he argued that Barack Obama could not understand or appreciate America due to his race. In a 2009 column entitled "'Inner Muslim' at work in Cairo", Pruden wrote that Obama is the "first president without an instinctive appreciation of the culture, history, tradition, common law and literature whence America sprang. The genetic imprint writ large in his 43 predecessors is missing from the Obama DNA." In another 2009 column, Pruden wrote that Obama had "no natural instinct or blood impulse" for what America was about because he was "sired by a Kenyan father" and "born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World." These columns stirred controversy, leading the Times to assign David Mastio, the Deputy Editorial Page Editor, to edit Pruden's work. Mastio said that drafts provided by Pruden used subtle racism and glorified the Confederacy, "He was constantly re-litigating the Civil War, and attacking the historical figures on the right side of the war, Lincoln and Grant being his favorites... He also used terms with animal implications when referring to blacks".
In January 2008, Pruden retired and John F. Solomon began as executive editor of The Washington Times. Solomon had previously worked for the Associated Press and The Washington Post, and had most recently been head of investigative reporting and mixed media development at the Post. Within a month, the Times changed some of its style guide to conform more to what was becoming mainstream media usage. The Times announced that it would no longer use words like "illegal aliens" and "homosexual," and in most cases opt for "more neutral terminology" like "illegal immigrants" and "gay," respectively. The paper also decided to stop using "Hillary" when referring to Senator Hillary Clinton, and the word "marriage" in the expression "gay marriage" would no longer appear in quotes in the newspaper. These changes in policy drew criticism from some conservatives.Prospect magazine attributed the Times's apparent political moderation to differences of opinion over the United Nations and North Korea, and said: "The Republican right may be losing its most devoted media ally."
In 2009 the Manila Times criticized The Washington Times for an editorial that it said interfered with the political process in the Philippines, while The New York Times criticized it for an editorial linking proposed health care reform in the United States to policies of Nazi Germany.
On November 30, 2009 The New York Times reported that the Washington Times would no longer be receiving funds from the Unification Church and might have to cease publication or go to online publication only. In December 2009 the Times announced it would lay off 40 percent of its 370 employees and stop subscription service, instead distributing the paper free in some areas of Washington including branches of the government. The Times said that it would focus on its "core strengths," which it identified as "exclusive reporting and in-depth national political coverage, enterprise and investigative reporting, geo-strategic and national security news and cultural coverage based on traditional values." A subscription website owned by the paper, theconservatives.com, continued, as did the Times three-hour radio program, "America's Morning News." Later that month the Times announced that it would cease publication of its Sunday edition, along with other changes partly in order to end its reliance on subsidies from the Unification Church ownership. On December 31, 2009, it announced that it would no longer be a full-service newspaper, eliminating its metropolitan-news and sports sections.
In July 2010 international leaders of the Unification Church issued a letter protesting the direction the Times was taking and urging closer ties between it and the church. In August 2010, a deal was made to sell the Times to a group more closely related to the church. Editor in chief Sam Dealey said that this was a welcome development among the Times' staff. On November 2, 2010, Moon and a group of former Washington Times editors purchased the paper from News World Communications for $1. This ended a bitter feud within the Moon family that had been threatening to shut down the paper completely. In March 2011 the Times announced that some former staffers would be rehired and that the paper would bring back its sports, metro, and life sections. In June 2011, Ed Kelley, formerly of The Oklahoman, was hired as editor overseeing both news and opinion content.
In October 14, 2012, it was announced that Douglas D. M. Joo, a senior executive, president, and chairman of the Times and affiliated publications for more than two decades, was stepping down.Times president Tom McDevitt took his place as chairman, and Larry Beasley, onetime senior executive at the St. Petersburg Times and the Los Angeles Daily News, was hired as the company's new president and chief executive officer. Beasley announced a new strategy to reach profitability focusing on expanding digital publishing capabilities and growing a nationwide audience, while making it clear that the print publication would continue.
In July 2013, former executive editor and investigative journalist John F. Solomon returned as editor, and to oversee the newspaper's content, digital and business strategies. The Times also acquired the Washington Guardian, an online news portal created in 2012 by Solomon and former Associated Press executives Jim Williams and Brad Kalbfeld. In October, the paper announced its new national digital edition specifically designed to work on smartphones and tablets. In addition to the Times' print and online content, the app offered additional content such as exclusive newsmaker interviews and a weekly column from conservative commentator Michelle Malkin.
In 2015, the paper began hosting US-Russia Crosstalk, a joint initiative between Times and the Center for the National Interest in the United States and the Kommersant newspaper and the Valdai Club in Russia, featuring foreign policy-related discussion regarding relations between the two countries.
On November 16, 2015, the newspaper's website recorded nearly 4.3 million page views, 20 percent higher than the company's previous record. That same month, Christopher Dolan was named as executive editor.
On March 1, 2018, the Times published a commentary piece by retired U.S. Navy admiral James A. Lyons which promoted conspiracy theories about the murder of Seth Rich. In the piece, Lyon claimed that it was "well known in intelligence circles that Seth Rich and his brother, Aaron Rich, downloaded the DNC emails and was paid by Wikileaks for that information." The piece cited no evidence for the assertion. Aaron Rich, the brother of Seth Rich and a subject of the false claim, filed a lawsuit against the Times, saying that it acted with "reckless disregard for the truth" and that it did not retract or remove the piece after "receiving notice of the falsity of the statements about Aaron after the publication". On September 30, 2018, Rich's attorney, Michael Gottlieb, reported that Rich and the Times had settled their lawsuit and shortly after the settlement the Times issued an "unusually robust" retraction.
The Washington Times had its first profitable year in 2015. The Times had suffered from poor finances and lack of profitability for 33 years.
In 1991, founder Sun Myung Moon said in a speech, "Literally nine hundred million to one billion dollars has been spent to activate and run the Washington Times". By 2002, about $1.7 billion had been spent by the Unification Church subsidizing The Washington Times, according to former employees. In 2002, Columbia Journalism Review suggested Moon had spent nearly $2 billion on the Times. In 2008, Thomas F. Roeser of the Chicago Daily Observer mentioned competition from the Times as a factor moving The Washington Post more to the conservative side, and said that Moon had "announced he will spend as many future billions as is needed to keep the paper competitive."
On November 13, 2014, Times President and CEO Larry Beasley announced that it was on course to reach profitability. Since January 2013, the newspaper had increased its revenue by one-third while decreasing expenses by 37 percent. Digital products including The Washington Times website, online videos and email marketing campaigns played a significant role in the revenue increase. Daily print advertising revenues also increased by 58 percent.
The Times became profitable in September 2015 after significantly increasing its digital audience, posting three straight months with over 40 million page views and 5 million video views, and drawing on a national platform with California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Virginia as its five largest states of readership. CEO Beasley said, "I'm proud of our team for its determined effort to remake their company into a digital-first business that can sustain a print publication that still wields enormous clout inside the Beltway."
The Washington Times holds a conservative political stance.The Washington Post reported in 2002, "The Times was established by Moon to combat communism and be a conservative alternative to what he perceived as the liberal leanings of The Washington Post. Since then, the paper has fought to prove its editorial independence, trying to demonstrate that it is neither a "Moonie paper" nor a booster of the political right but rather a fair and balanced reporter of the news."
Max Blumenthal wrote for The Nation in 2006 that the Times was "characterized by extreme racial animus and connections to nativist and neo-Confederate organizations... from its earliest days the Times has been a hothouse for hard-line racialists and neo-Confederates"
In 2007, the progressive magazine Mother Jones said that the Times had become "essential reading for political news junkies" soon after its founding, and described the paper as a "conservative newspaper with close ties to every Republican administration since Reagan."
In a 2008 Harper's Magazine essay criticizing American conservatism, American historianThomas Frank linked the Times to the modern American conservative movement, saying, "There is even a daily newspaper--the Washington Times--published strictly for the movement's benefit, a propaganda sheet whose distortions are so obvious and so alien that it puts one in mind of those official party organs one encounters when traveling in authoritarian countries."
In 2009, The New York Times reported, "With its conservative editorial bent, the paper also became a crucial training ground for many rising conservative journalists and a must-read for those in the movement. A veritable who's who of conservatives--Tony Blankley, Frank J. Gaffney Jr., Larry Kudlow, John Podhoretz and Tony Snow--has churned out copy for its pages."
In January 2011, conservative commentator Paul Weyrich said, "The Washington Post became very arrogant and they just decided that they would determine what was news and what wasn't news and they wouldn't cover a lot of things that went on. And the Washington Times has forced the Post to cover a lot of things that they wouldn't cover if the Times wasn't in existence."
The Washington Times has published a number of columns that promote climate change denial.The Times headlined its story about the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change, "Under the deal, the use of coal, oil and other fossil fuel in the United States would be cut by more than one-third by 2002, resulting in lower standards of living for consumers and a long-term reduction in economic growth." In 2010, it published an article claiming that February 2010 snow storms "Undermin[e] The Case For Global Warming One Flake At A Time". In 2014, The Washington Times said that a NASA scientist claimed that global warming was on a "hiatus" and that NASA had found evidence of global cooling; Rebecca Leber of the New Republic said that the NASA scientist in question said the opposite of what The Washington Times claimed. In 2015, it published a column by Congressman Lamar Smith in which he argued that the work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was "not good science, [but] science fiction."
In 2008, the Times published a column by Frank Gaffney that promoted the false conspiracy theories that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and was courting the "jihadist vote." In 2009 and 2010, the newspaper published pieces promoting the false claim that Obama is a Muslim. In 2016, the paper published an article that claimed $3.6 million of taxpayer money was spent on President Obama going on an outing with golfer Tiger Woods in 2013. Snopes rated the article "mostly false", because the estimated cost included both official business travel and a brief presidential vacation in Florida.