The Rev. Sun Myung Moon-owned The Washington Times fired three top executives on Monday, November 7, "amid reports that the paper's top editor might also be leaving," The New York Times reported. However, despite billion dollar losses, a series of editorial shakeups over the past few years, the tough economic climate for newspapers in general, and ownership by the controversial Moon, it doesn't appear that the paper will cease operations anytime soon.
The dismissed included Thomas P. McDevitt, the president and publisher who was a former pastor at Washington's Unification Church, Keith Cooperrider, the chief financial officer, and Dong Moon Joo, the chairman. Jonathan Slevin, a former vice president of the paper, was named acting president and publisher, and the paper retained the business consulting firm, Tatum, according to the NYT.
(In October, The Washington Times' Julia Duin reported that Moon had
The newspaper also reported that the paper's executive editor, John Solomon, who came over from The Washington Post in early 2008, is weighing whether to step down.
The New York Times noted that The Washington Times
The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz wrote that "economics appears to be at the heart of the shakeup." According to Kurtz, "The Times, established in 1982 by Unification Church head Rev. Sun Myung Moon as a politically conservative voice in the nation's capital, has always been subsidized by the church. At the paper's 20th anniversary, it was estimated by industry experts that Moon had put more than $1.7 billion into the Times. As such, the Times was largely shielded from long-term declines in readership and advertising that have hammered almost every other newspaper, causing deep cuts in coverage and staff and even forcing some papers out of business."
TPM's Ben Frumin took a different tack in explaining the shakeup: Frumin wrote that "a new wrinkle" regarding the "staff shakeup" was that the realignment came "just one day after the paper admitted that [Jonathan] Slevin [who had been promoted to the posts of acting publisher and president of the paper] himself selected the person [Michael Scheuer, a former CIA operative and is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University] who wrote the paper's glowing book review of Clash of the Gods, a book [Slevin] coauthored, in violation of newspaper policy.
"The book review is a year old -- though the clarification just ran in the Sunday newspaper. And executive editor John Solomon -- who may be leaving the newspaper along with three other top executives -- hasn't been seen at the newspaper since.
Interestingly, The Washington Times recently announced that in collaboration with the Heritage Foundation and other conservative organizations, it had launched TheConservatives.com,
"By investing smartly in the American conservative movement -- and thus gaining influential defenders of his own -- [Moon] intimidated much of the U.S. news media and U.S. government investigators from discussing his real history or looking too deeply at his curious funding methods. As a business model for a corrupt money-launderer, which is essentially what Moon's organization has been, Moon could have taught the Corleone family a thing or two."
A long-time Moon watcher told me via e-mail that while he was uncertain whether the shakeup is in any way related to internal operations within Moon's church, there have been rumors that Moon has been thinking about unloading the paper. Moon selling the paper should probably be treated about the same as his oft-spoken pledge to no longer come to America, a pledge he has violated on numerous occasions.
"There are no plans to shut the company down," Slevin told [The Washington] Times employees during a meeting Tuesday morning, the newspaper reported. "We expect The Washington Times to continue to serve its readers and viewers for years to come."
Whatever the outcome of the recent personnel changes at The Washington Times newspaper, one thing is clear; over the years, the conservative movement has gotten more than its money's worth.
Bill Berkowitz is a longtime observer of the conservative movement and a frequent writer for Z Magazine, Religion Dispatches and other online publications. He documents the strategies, players, institutions, victories, and defeats of the American Right from a progressive perspective