The Washington Times is an American daily newspaper started and owned by the Unification Church, that covers general interest topics with a particular emphasis on American politics. The paper is published as a broadsheet at 3600 New York Avenue NE, Washington, D.C..
One of the first broadsheets in the United States to adopt color photography, 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. A typical issue includes sections for world and national news, business, politics, editorials and opinion pieces, local news, sports, entertainment, and travel. Periodically, the paper publishes large, 30–40 page special sections devoted to specific policy topics that include reports and commentary from a variety of experts on the subject.
Founded on May 17, 1982, by Sun Myung Moon, the Times was owned by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with the Unification Church, until 2010, when Moon and a group of former executives purchased the paper. It is currently owned by diversified conglomerate Operations Holdings, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the church.
|The Washington Times|
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|
|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 was founded in 1982 by News World Communications, an international media conglomerate associated with the Unification Church 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.
Most notably, de Borchgrave mounted a fund-raising drive for Nicaraguan rebels and helped obtain information leading to Nazi war criminals.
Arnaud de Borchgrave gave up editorial control in 1991.
Wesley Pruden was named executive editor of the newspaper in 1992. Under the editorship of Pruden, the paper took a strongly conservative stance. Controversy ensued when Pruden was accused of pushing nativism. Under Pruden, The Washington Times was also noted for running a full page of stories on the American Civil War every Saturday, the only daily newspaper in the country to do so. Pruden called it "probably our single most popular feature", and noted that "There are more books published on the Civil War than on any other American topic." Pruden said that "the Civil War page has just as many stories about glorifying the Union as it does the Confederacy." Soon after Pruden retired as editor-in-chief, the Times announced that the Civil War page would be expanded to include coverage of all America's wars and would be renamed "America at War."
In 1992 The New York Times reported The Washington Times' had only one eighth the circulation of the Post (100,000 to 800,000) and that two thirds of its subscribers also subscribed to the Post. In 1994 the Times introduced a weekly national edition. It was published in a tabloid format and distributed nationwide.
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.
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 nation, 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 and by liberal commentators.
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 2006 Max Blumenthal, writing in The Nation, reported that Moon's youngest son Hyun-jin "Preston" Moon—who by this time 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 are "The voice and choice of discerning readers" and "You're not getting it all without us."
In January 2008, editor in chief Wesley Pruden retired and John F. Solomon began work as executive editor of The Washington Times. Solomon is known for his work as an investigative journalist for the Associated Press and The Washington Post, and was most recently 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" will 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." Also that year, the Times stopped publishing a Saturday print edition.
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 Washington 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, had been 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 March 2013 it was announced that Herring Networks would work with the Washington Times to create a new cable news network that began broadcasting in mid‑2013. The new network was called One America News. In July 2014, OAN relocated its news and production studios out of The Washington Times Building to its new location at 101 Constitution Avenue NW, just steps from the Capitol. The move ended OAN's relationship with The Washington Times.
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.
The Washington Times had its first profitable year in 2015. The Times had suffered from poor finances and lack of profitability for 33 years.
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 2003, The New Yorker reported that a billion dollars had been spent since the paper's inception, as founder Sun Myung Moon himself had noted in a 1991 speech, "Literally nine hundred million to one billion dollars has been spent to activate and run the Washington 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 right, 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, The Washington 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 Washington 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, drawing on a national platform counting 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 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.
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.
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."
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.