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Unification Press International

Will the sale of UPI mean a right-wing wire service? Just ask Rev. Moon.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 5/24/2000

Of all the folks who are happy that United Press International was purchased by News World Communications, owner of the Washington Times, near the top of that list you would find NewsMax. (At the bottom of that list is pretty much any self-respecting journalist.)

Not only does what's left of this wire service -- and it isn't much; as a former UPI staffer notes, little more than the trademark, a Web site and White House press credentials -- gain owners who share its ideological bent; NewsMax is probably UPI's highest-profile client right now. Which is why "Carl Limbacher and staff" were more than happy to write their own story about the purchase.

Since we're talking about NewsMax writing about something it agrees with, the story is, for the most part, a love letter to Arnaud de Borchgrave, UPI chief executive officer (and member of the NewsMax board of directors) who was the company's connection with News World -- de Borchgrave was editor in chief of the Washington Times from 1985 to 1991.

For good measure, the story also includes the two statements that must be included about the Washington Times or News World:

-- de Borchgrave is quoted as saying, "I've never in my 54 years in journalism enjoyed more freedom and independence than at the Washington Times," and that the owners never interfered in editorial decisions.

-- "...While some top officials of News World Communications are members of the Unification Church, led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the church has no formal ties to News World Communications."

Neither of those statements seem to be true.

The first statement about editorial independence was debunked in 1987, when the editorial-page editor and four others resigned, accusing de Borchgrave of allowing an executive of the Unification Church to dictate editorial policy. (de Borchgrave denied the accusation.)

Regarding the second statement about the church's ties to News World Communications, we only need to go to the Unification Home Page, where speeches by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon and other church officials are archived to find out what his connection is with the Washington Times.

Here is Moon from a 1997 speech: "Fifteen years ago, when the world was adrift on the stormy waves of the Cold War, I established The Washington Times to fulfill God's desperate desire to save this world. Since that time, I have devoted myself to raising up The Washington Times, hoping that this blessed land of America would fulfill its world-wide mission to build a Heavenly nation."

Moon in a 1986 speech: (The unification movement) has to take preeminence in the realm of media. With the Washington Times as the core, we are establishing preeminence in the American print media. ... By doing so we can include all fields of intelligence. Today we have in this area surpassed the liberal New York Times and Washington Post, and continually gaining important confidential information not only from America but also from other governments all over the world.

Moon in a 1991 speech: "In the last nine years, the Church poured eight hundred million dollars in cold cash into The Washington Times. ... You have no idea how much money that is. If you deposited that money into a bank, the interest alone, at 10% a year, would be eight million dollars per month. ... How can we be the enemy of America spending that kind of money on this country, shedding tears for this country? ... Father (Moon) knew how precious, how painfully-gotten this money was, but Father knew that he had to safeguard the free world, the whole world against the invasion of communism, so Father fought against communism, fought against iniquity. Now we are getting results. We had to spend that money that way. It is not because Father did not know the investment value of that money.

"It is hard to believe but true that in 1975, the liberal movement was rampant. In a mere five years, how in the world has that miserable America, who retreated from Vietnam, losing the war against a nobody like North Vietnam, brought the Republicans back again and maintained their dignity and brought the country around to the extreme right, as represented by Reagan? It was a puzzle. It is a fact, so no one questions it now, but who played the key role? Father did. If Father didn't actually do something to turn the tide around, it would not have been done."

Moon in a 1982 speech: "The U.S. government tried to destroy Reverend Moon in the courtroom, but instead of seeking revenge, I have turned around and tried to do many things to help and save the destiny of this nation. Many comfortable Washington political bureaucrats who have had their beautiful offices inside big marble buildings considered Reverend Moon and the Unification Church as insignificant as peanuts. However, now they have found themselves having to respond to the Washington Times; they are reading it and trembling at some of the stories. They find themselves having to take advice from the Washington Times! "

Moon in another 1991 speech: "Look at the Washington Times. No one in America helped to create that. Without Father's guidance for the Washington Times, this country couldn't have found a direction. Literally nine hundred million to one billion dollars has been spent to activate and run the Washington Times."

Moon in a 1999 speech: "Gorbachev wanted to give a speech to the Congress, but the Washington Times editorials influenced Congress to cancel that speech. Because of communist influence, American people and others opposed and nearly trashed the SDI program. But the Washington Times encouraged Reagan's support for this, and this helped save the free world. ... I inspired patriotic support for Reagan and Bush, and gained the heartistic surrender of Gorbachev and Kim Il Sung."

Moon in a 1989 speech: "Without The Washington Times, America could not have lived."

The point is, News World Communications is not an absentee owner. Moon believes his establishment of the Washington Times is part of a divine mission. He believes the Times played a major role in killing off Soviet-style communism. Through News World affiliates like the Washington Times, the Unification Church has a specific ideological agenda to advance, and there's no reason to believe UPI won't be used for this same purpose.

One other thing is noteworthy about the NewsMax story: While it begins with a NewsMax byline, it concludes with a UPI copyright notice. While it's possible that the part at the bottom of the story about longtime reporter Helen Thomas resigning from UPI might be the target of the copyright slug, it's edited into the overall story and divided only by a subhead. Another example of the sloppy level of journalism we've come to expect from NewsMax.

Speaking of Helen Thomas, the Media Research Center took the opportunity of her resignation to brand her as a "legendary liberal." Their evidence:

-- She said something negative about Ronald Reagan.

-- She said something positive about Jimmy Carter and the Kennedy family.

-- She didn't ask President Clinton about the charges of alleged rape brought by Juanita Broaddrick.

The most damning "evidence," of course, is her Reagan remarks. Conservatives are not allowed to say anything negative about The Great Communicator, so when anyone offers analysis that dares to criticize any part of his presidency, it's obvious grounds for conservatives to hurl "liberal" around as a epithet. MRC can't be bothered to explain this nuance, though.

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