Monday, January 21, 2008

Crackup at the Moonie Times

-- by Dave

I've been traveling, so I'm a little late chiming in on this, but I had to take note of the house-cleaning at the Washington Times, duly limned by Heidi Beirich at Hatewatch:
The hard-right Washington Times has appointed a new executive editor, Washington Post reporter John Solomon (right), marking a major change in direction for the perennially money-losing paper that is owned by Rev. Sun Myung Moon. Solomon, who is taking over a paper with a long history of shoddy journalism, replaces Wesley Pruden, who was editor in chief for 16 years.

Solomon’s appointment marks the end of a tumultuous period for the Times, which included a spate of extremely bad press, including an extensive piece on racism and sexism at the paper by Max Blumenthal. That seemed to take its toll on the newspaper’s professional employees. Several prominent staffers, including Washington insider Tony Blankley, the newspaper’s editorial page editor and former press secretary for then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), and FOX News contributor Bill Sammon, left the organization in the past year.

The appointment of Solomon means Pruden’s vision for the Times’ future will not come to pass. Pruden told C-SPAN in 2005 that his managing editor, Francis Booth Coombs, who claims on his personal web site to have been “in many ways the chief architect of Washington Times news coverage,” should replace him. Coombs, whose white supremacist thinking has been reported on in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report several times (here and here) and who has been accused of racism by former Times employees, announced his retirement yesterday.

Coombs’ connections to extremists are extensive. Coombs’ wife, Marian, has direct ties to white supremacists and Coombs has published several stories by Marian in the Times, many of which relied on racist sources (as revealed in 2005 by the Intelligence Report). One of Coombs’ favored editors, Robert Stacy McCain, is an ardent foe of interracial marriage and a former member of the white supremacist League of the South.

Mind you, Solomon represents mostly a shift away from the extremism that Coombs, McCain and Co. all represented, but he's not exactly a guy whose journalism you can trust. Still and all, an improvement, I suppose, but given his history, I'd just expect the Times to get smarter about how it smears liberals.

I also noted that McCain announced he was moving on.

It'll be interesting to see where he lands next. Maybe he should talk to Lew Rockwell.

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