[George W. Bush greets staff and management from the Washington Times at the White House in January 2005. Francis Coombs is at his immediate left.]
Max Blumenthal has been producing a nonstop series of must-read reports in the past year, mostly for The Nation, including his recent expose of the Path to 9/11 miscreants.
Now he's topped it with a stunning inside account of the bigots and fools who run the Washington Times, including the welcome news that their bumbling ways have brought the paper's management to the brink of termination:
- A nasty succession battle is now heating up at the paper, punctuated by allegations of racism, sexism and unprofessional conduct, that has implications far beyond its fractious newsroom. According to several reliable inside sources, Preston Moon, the youngest son of Korean Unification Church leader and Times financier Sun Myung Moon, has initiated a search committee to find a replacement for editor in chief Wesley Pruden--a replacement who is not Pruden's handpicked successor, managing editor Francis Coombs.
But Pruden and Coombs, evidently, don't intend to go down quietly:
- Pruden and Coombs have stonewalled Preston Moon's investigation and threatened to hold a public news conference, during which they would denounce "the crazy Moonies" and claim that Preston Moon and his father are pressuring them to inject pro-Unification Church propaganda into the paper's coverage, according to a senior newsroom staffer. Times president Douglas D.M. Joo is backing Coombs and Pruden to the bitter end. Joo is a business rival of Preston Moon who, the senior staffer says, would be stripped of his post at the Times and redeployed to Korea if Pruden and Coombs go down. "This is a cancer that goes all the way to the top," the senior staffer said of the paper's tolerance of bigotry. "And if you don't root out the cancer, it will kill you. If this ever got out to the mainstream press, we would be finished as a paper."
Particularly damning is Blumenthal's portrait of Coombs, who has been the paper's driving force in ginning up the debate over immigration and promoting (indeed, practically creating) the Minutemen. Coombs' racial animus is portrayed in stark detail, including this little anecdote:
- Countering the "feel-good perspective" on race appears to be Coombs's passion. George Archibald told me that when he showed Coombs a photo of his nephew's African-American girlfriend, Coombs "went off like a rocket about interracial marriage and how terrible it was. He actually used the phrase 'the niggerfication of America.' He said, 'Not in my lifetime. If my daughter went out with a black, I would cut her throat.'"
Then there's Coombs' protege, the execrable Robert Stacy McCain (purportedly a social acquaintance of former National Socialist Movement leader Bill White). Another revealing detail:
- But McCain's views on race are well-known among his colleagues. In August 2002, according to Archibald, during a discussion in the newsroom about civil rights, McCain defended slavery as "good for the blacks and good for property owners." "We were just appalled," Archibald said. "He is just a complete animalistic racist."
Oh, and then there's the rampant sexism and misogyny. But that's part of the usual right-wing package, isn't it?
Anyway, go read it all.