The Washington Times, the right-wing daily that bills itself as an alternative to the Washington Post, is owned and influenced by Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. But most journalists seem unable or unwilling to consider the political implications of this fact -- despite the role of Washington Times executives in the Koreagate scandal of the 1970s and the Iran-contra scandal today.
Since its inception in 1982, the Washington Times has gained a circulation of about 100,000 and the endorsement of President Ronald Reagan, who reads it every day. Founding editor and publisher James Whelan resigned in July 1984, charging that top Unification Church (UC) officials had taken over the paper in violation of UC guarantees of independence. In 1987, Times editorial page editor William Cheshire and several staff members also resigned over UC interference.
The Washington Times public relations line -- printed as fact in a Time magazine profile (6/15/87) -- maintains that the newspaper is "owned by a group of Korean investors affiliated with the Unification Church." These "investors" -- the Korean-based Tong-II Industries -- do not seem to view the Times as a profit-making venture. Current Times editor-in-chief Arnaud de Borchgrave told the Washington Post (5/6/87) that a Tong-II executive described one of the company's factories as "the logistical tail of the Washington Times." "They are very conscious of the fact that a certain portion of their profit comes to us to meet the subsidy," de Borchgrave said.
A 1978 congressional committee disclosed that 53 percent of Tong-II was owned by the Unification Church. But there is no proof that Tong-II is the sole, or even the principal, funder of the Times. New World Communications (NWC), the privately held parent company of the Washington Times and other Moon media outlets, is neither obligated under the law nor willing to disclose its financing.
Three NWC executives are not only top Unification Church officials, but have also had high-ranking posts in the Korean CIA (KCIA). Sang Kook Han, a "personal assistant" to the KCIA director in the early 1960s, later served as South Korea's ambassador to Norway and Panama. In 1984, Han was installed at the Washington Times, precipitating the resignation of editor James Whelan. Currently senior vice president of New World Communications, Han is described by Whelan as the "de facto publisher" and "inspector general" of the Times.
Kim Sang In, another NWC executive, was KCIA station chief in Mexico in the '70s. There, according to U.S. congressional investigators, he functioned as the "control agent" for Tungsun Park, who bribed U.S. officials to gain favors for the South Korean government in what became known as "Koreagate." Congressional probers disclosed that illegal espionage operations linked to Koreagate were carried out by the Unification Church at the behest of the KCIA.
Bo Hi Pak, the president of NWC, served as liaison to the U.S. intelligence community while posted in Washington as South Korean military attache in the 1960s and early '70s, according to the Koreagate inquiry. Pak is also president of CAUSA (Confederation of the Associations for Unity of the Societies of the Americas), the political arm of the Unification Church. CAUSA was instrumental in providing aid to the Nicaraguan contras.
What are the intentions of those who own and control the Washington Times? The Koreagate probe revealed that the Moon organization functions as a highly integrated unit; each component may maintain the appearance of independence as a means towards larger ends. James Whelan believes he was forced out of the paper because he was too independent.
Opposition to constitutional democracy is a theological premise of The Divine Principle, the basic text of Unificationism. Moon's speeches are riddled with contempt for "American-style democracy," which he denigrates as "a good nursery for the growth of Communism." "We must have an automatic theocracy to rule the world," Moon has declared.
Former top UC official Steve Hassan believes that the Washington Times is a "Trojan horse" within the conservative movement. Hassan told EXTRA!, "Conservative politics is glad to have a voice through the Times, but ultimately it has nothing to do with conservatism. It has to do with fascism."