Unification News for June 2002

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Washington Times

The celebration of the anniversary of The Washington Times generated much comment and analysis. The following are selections form this coverage:

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon and a crowd of 3,000 celebrated the 20th anniversary of the newspaper he founded, The Washington Times, in the nation's capital.

Moon, the 82-year-old leader of the Unification Church, started the Times on May 17, 1982, nine months after The Washington Star closed. The Times has a daily circulation of 110,120 and a strong following among political conservatives in the U.S. capital for its editorial philosophy.

The other newspaper in the nation's capital is the Washington Post.

Moon has invested more than $1 billion in his News World Communications, which recently bought United Press International.

Moon delivered an hour-long address in Korean with a printed version in English given to guests, on the life of Jesus.

"I hope that The Washington Times, UPI and other major media will accept this lofty command from Heaven and take up the task of educating humankind, taking a stance beyond religion and ideology," said Moon.

Yahoo! News AP

A long-forgotten disaster struck Washington 21 years ago. With the demise of The Washington Star, the world's most important capital was reduced to a single newspaper -- the liberal Washington Post.

Every other capital city in the democratic world enjoyed multiple media voices that spanned the entire political spectrum. Competitive, uncensored media are essential for democracy to function. Yet Washington was about to become a city with no choice.

The Washington Star was owned by Time Inc. and was awash in red ink when they decided to pull the plug. Wealthy Americans were solicited all over the country to save the right-of-center newspaper. But no one was willing to step up to the plate. That is when Rev. Sun Myung Moon concluded that the lack of a robust second newspaper in Washington would jeopardize President Reagan's efforts to roll back the Soviet empire and roll up communism.

Anti-anti-communism had become fashionable in the dominant liberal media culture, a trend Moon felt would jeopardize not only U.S. security, but the security of his own country where 37,000 U.S. soldiers stood guard against the possibility of another invasion of South Korea by a still aggressive North Korea.

Arnaud de Borchgrave UPI Editor at Large, United Press International

No-nonsense radio self-help guru Laura Schlessinger toasted The Washington Times Tuesday night for two decades of "getting it first and getting it right."

Mrs. Schlessinger ought to know. Two years ago, when her radio and television programs were besieged by homosexual rights activists who accused her of homophobic bigotry, only The Washington Times, she said, bothered to call to get her side of the story.

"Every newspaper every radio host, all clamored for my head on a platter, except for The Washington Times," Mrs. Schlessinger said, thanking the newspaper for portraying the assault "for what it was: an attack on free speech."

"From one survivor to another, we're still here," she told the crowd of 3,000 partygoers who had gathered at the Washington Hilton to celebrate The Washington Times' impact both inside the Beltway and beyond.

The evening's pre-dinner reception mirrored the newspaper's international scope. Guests, who wore traditional business attire as well as the native dress of their various homelands, joined in marveling at oversized reproductions of the paper's most remarkable front pages from the past two decades.

David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, said everyone who can remember Washington before The Times' debut in 1982 agrees that it has had "an incredible impact."

Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, whose column appears in The Times and more than 500 other newspapers, agreed and said the increasing number of one-newspaper towns in America troubled him.

"I can't imagine Washington without The Times," Mr. Thomas said, underscoring the importance of an alternative view in the capital of the most powerful country in the world.

Wesley Pruden, The Washington Times' editor in chief, took pleasure in tweaking the Greek chorus of critics who had predicted a short life for The Times.

"Six weeks, they said. The washington Post will wring your neck like a chicken," Mr. Pruden said, acknowledging the theft of a line from Winston Churchill. "Some neck. Some chicken."

Christian Toto, The Washington Times

Every newspaper is unique. At the beginning of every day, it exists only in the minds and imaginations of the men and women who produce it.

The brick and mortar of the buildings, the hardware of the newsroom, the computers and desks and fax machines, the rolls of newsprint and the barrels of ink that become the tangible newspaper lie inert and useless until the skill of dedicated men and women produce the words that assign events their place in the archives of memory and recollection.

The vision of a second newspaper in the nation's capital, speaking to the world in a robust voice, first sprang to life in the imagination of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

The birth of The Washington Times was not celebrated by a press establishment grown smug and complacent. The Times was to be a different kind of newspaper, one that would go for inspiration "back to the future," to a time of national consensus on issues of ethics and morality, with an emphasis on the message and not the messenger. We would not only cover the news without slant or bias, but give voice to those who had been shut out of the national debate.

Though the founding vision was that of a religious figure, a man of another country and another culture, The Times was to be wholly secular, to hold to no sectarian cause, to champion no denomination above any other, but never to mock faith and belief, to proselytize only for the principles that liberate men from the tyranny of closed minds.

It was an unlikely enterprise. There was first a wide cultural divide to bridge, not only between East and West, but between devout and religious men and a rowdy and eccentric collection of rogues, scamps and vagabonds, all skeptical of nearly everything, living by the famous newsroom maxim that "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." Most of us are only vaguely religious, if religious at all, and those of us with faith and belief hold to a faith very different from that of the founder.

Nothing could have come of the founding vision without unqualified independence for the men and women who produce the newspaper. We've never been told to put anything in the paper; more important, perhaps, we've never been asked to leave anything out. All that ever was asked was that we put out the newspaper born of the vision, faithful to the task of reporting the news without fear or favor, to get it first and get it right. A decade of dedication, followed by a second decade of distinction in the task, made believers of hundreds of thousands of readers in every state of the union and throughout the world, loyal to a newspaper that seeks to be faithful to what is good and important.

Tradition, custom, belief and practice are held important at The Times in an age when much of what our forefathers brought forth on this providential continent is unappreciated; when even the struggles of our grandfathers are unknown or unappreciated, or both; when Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Marshall and Madison are often as unfamiliar as Solon, Leonidas and Pericles.

"Traditions are mighty influences in restraining peoples," Richard Taylor, the soldier-philosopher, wrote more than a century ago. "The light that reaches us from above takes countless time to traverse the awful chasm separating us from that parent star; yet it comes straight and true to our eyes, because each tender wavelet is linked to the other, receiving and transmitting the luminous ray. Once break the continuity of the stream, and men will deny its heavenly origin, and seek its source in the feeble glimmer of earthly corruption."

We look to the continuity of that stream, guided by that luminous ray.

Wesley Pruden, Editor in Chief, The Washington Times

More than 3,000 congressmen, state legislators, and business and religious leaders from across the country attended the dinner and the reception to congratulate The Times on "Two Decades of Dedication and Distinction." The visitors even included members of the Diet, the Japanese parliament.

President Bush, preparing to depart for Moscow, sent a message via a White House aide. "Since 1982," he said, "people across America and throughout the world have relied on The Washington Times as a distinguished source of information and opinion.

"As a forum for the debate of timely issues, The Times has contributed significantly to a more informed public," the president wrote. "I commend the individuals whose hard work has helped The Washington Times become a major U.S. daily paper. Your continued pursuit of excellence is a credit to journalism."

Other greetings included those from Sen. Thomas Daschle of South Dakota, the leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate, who praised The Times in a video for enlivening the national debate.

Moon pledged total editorial independence. It was never violated in the 20 years of the newspaper's existence. The scrappy newspaper fought valiantly to carve a niche in the political debate. By the time this reporter was asked to take over as editor in chief in 1985, The Washington Times had become a "must" read on Capitol Hill and throughout the Reagan administration.

The Times rapidly became a great newspaper by anyone's definition because of its dedicated and talented staff that thought nothing of 14-hour days to report the news hard, first, and above all, accurately -- and provide an alternative conservative viewpoint on its editorial and commentary pages. We knew we had made it when Charles Peters, the respected editor of the liberal Washington Monthly said that The Times had been beating the Washington Post "consistently on some important stories." The National Journal placed The Washington Times among the most influential institutions in the nation's capital.

The Times repeatedly hit what the Post missed. In the first 16 months of this editor's tenure, the Associated Press cited Washington Times' exclusives more than 120 times. The late Katharine Graham, chairman of The Washington Post company, told me at a state dinner, "I have to tell you, the paper is looking good -- in fact, too good." Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., complained at the time that we had "added immeasurably to his burdens." Asked how this had been achieved, he said, "I have to read you every day."

Arnaud de Borchgrave UPI Editor at Large, United Press International

The first edition of The Washington Times rolled off borrowed presses May 17, 1982, nine months after the Washington Star's presses fell silent. News World Communications, a publishing company founded by Korean businessmen and others who were members of Rev. Moon's Unification Church, took on the mission of financing, designing and launching an independent newspaper in Washington.

The Times began operating from a makeshift newsroom in an old warehouse at 3600 New York Ave. NW. The paper was staffed by a handful of newspaper professionals recruited by a working group from News World headed by former Korean diplomat Bo Hi Pak.

Today, The Times has more than 820 employees, a daily circulation of 110,120, and is a newspaper with national influence.

Country music star Randy Travis entertained at the gala, after opening the proceedings by singing the national anthem. Also performing during the dinner were the Viennese Strings and the Children of the Gospel Choir.

As part of its 20th-anniversary celebration, The Times held an essay contest for students in grades three through 12 in the Washington area. From more than 800 submissions, 96 winners were selected in 12 categories. The top 12 winners honored last night were Valerie G. Peckarsky, Max Koehler, Matthew P. Farrell, Gina Depaul, Bin Yang, Linnay Corley, Graham Spicer, David Kay, Paul Thornley, Cherryce Lynn White, Kim Sorensen and Tara Lester.

The Times presented its Courage in Leadership Awards, which honor individuals who have shown distinction and courage in their fields of endeavor. Virginia State Trooper Michael Middleton, Fairfax County Fire Capt. Jerry Roussillon and Arlington County Fire Capt. Stephen McCoy were honored for their heroic efforts during the September 11 recovery efforts at the Pentagon.

Douglas Joo, president of The Washington Times Corp., said, "We are proud to set a distinctive tradition in public discourse."

The International Courage in Leadership Award was presented to Cesar Gaviria, the Organization of American States' secretary-general, known in Latin America as a conflict mediator, democracy advocate, staunch supporter of regional integration and defender of human rights.

The National Courage in Leadership Awards were presented to the Rev. Floyd Flake of the Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in Queens, N.Y., and Michael S. Joyce, founder and chief executive officer of the Washington-based Americans for Community and Faith-Centered Enterprise, which seeks to channel government and private funding to small, religious social service groups.

Ellen Sorokin, The Washington Times

The Times, in no small part because of aggressive coverage of the White House, Congress, national security and foreign policy as well as local affairs, grew to be one of the most quoted newspapers in the world, read not only in Washington but in the capitals of the rest of the world.

"There's nothing like a good Washington Times editorial to get my juices going for the day's debates in the Senate," says Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat. "I respect and commend The Times for its in-depth coverage of Congress. I send my congratulations and best wishes on the 20th anniversary."

Today, a top-rated Web site (www,washingtontimes,com); a National Weekly Edition (that overtook The Washington Post's national weekly edition in circulation); and dozens of monthly "pickups" of its stories by other news organizations have combined to project the influence of "America's Newspaper" far beyond its growing Washington circulation base.

"The first thing to be said about The Washington Times is that its existence is a small miracle, or maybe even a big one," says Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas Republican. "From its first day, the paper has defied the experts, the critics and the odds just by being there. The Times was born into a market famous for killing off major dailies, and it arrived at a time when big-city newspapers had begun to die off all over America."

In a time and place before the Internet, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, when information, and control of access to information, was the ultimate power, The Washington Post reigned in splendid isolation in the nation's capital, answerable not even to public opinion.

The Post, which four years earlier had celebrated its centennial status as "the powerful voice of liberal American democracy," was perhaps the newspaper least vulnerable to competition in all the world. Not even Pravda enjoyed such domination of the early-morning attention of policy-makers in its capital.

Ronald Reagan was still new in town, trying to stoke the fires of the free market and buck up the courage of the free world. But a lot of his matches were wet. Mr. Reagan had achieved the impossible; he was a conservative who had gotten himself elected president of the United States. He was greeted by the dominant media establishment with incredulity, suspicion, frustration, even anger.

Arnaud de Borchgrave, a storied foreign correspondent and editor at Newsweek, arrived as editor in chief in 1985. The European-born Mr. de Borchgrave, who had gone to war at sea as a teen-ager at the outbreak of World War II, put The Times on the map with an emphasis on exclusives especially in international news, intelligence affairs and foreign policy and including his own interviews with world leaders.

He relishes telling of how the late Katharine Graham, chairman of The Washington Post Co., approached him at a state dinner some months into his tenure. "Arnaud," she said, "I have to tell you, the paper is looking good in fact, too good."

Other now familiar offerings include Washington Daybook, Inside Politics and Inside the Ring on the national pages; the Briefing Page and Embassy Row on the foreign pages; Culture, et cetera, a page covering the intersection of politics with religion and culture; and a section called Family Times to help families meet and survive the latest challenges to successful parenting.

"[A] growing number of fans, many of them liberals, have stumbled upon a useful little secret," Washington Monthly said in a 1997 cover story. "The Washington Times has become a must-read. Not only because it occasionally breaks a really big story, but because The Times now offers a daily menu of straight, ground-breaking, essential news, often on subjects to which other outlets give short shrift."

As an unidentified official in the Clinton White House told the magazine: "You can't not read The Times if you're working in government and politics in Washington. There's unique information that they get that you won't find anywhere else."

Reported MediaWeek: "Like it or not (and many folks don't), The Washington Times, founded in 1982, has become a paper to reckon with. Now, on any given Sunday, viewers may see Tim Russert, host of 'Meet the Press,' waving a copy of the paper as he fires salvos at the White House chief of staff or the Democratic leadership."

Joseph Laitin, onetime ombudsman for The Post, memorably observed: "The Washington Times on the whole has better judgment of what to put on Page One than The Post." Another Post ombudsman, Michael Getler, wrote last fall that The Times "administered the water-torture treatment to The Post" with three important exclusives the previous week: "Every newspaper, even one as big as The Post, gets beat from time to time on local stories. But three pops in one week ought to flash yellow lights here."

And the yellow lights keep flashing brighter.

Ken McIntyre, assistant managing editor, The Washington Times

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