Over the Moon --- UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Over the Moon --- UPDATE

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2006 at 9:19 AM

Thanks to GM for this link to The Nation, which has a long, interesting -- even disturbing -- article on leadership transition at the Washington Times. The paper, an important mouthpiece for the far right thanks to hundreds of millions in Moonie money, has been led by Wesley Pruden, a Little Rock native and son of one of the leading segs of the 1957 school crisis.  Pruden, channeling Jim Johnson and similar sources, was a steady purveyor of overheated Whitewater-era coverage of the Clinton administration, which the article notes.  Writes The Nation:

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.

Preston Moon wants to wrest control of the paper from Pruden and Coombs, according to a Times senior staffer, in order to shift the paper away from their brand of conservatism, which is characterized by extreme racial animus and connections to nativist and neo-Confederate organizations. A Harvard MBA, Preston Moon is said to be seeking to install an editorial regime with more widely palatable politics. ...

Both Coombs and Pruden, meanwhile, are facing a litany of complaints from former and current colleagues of racism and sexual harassment. More than a dozen well-placed sources spoke to The Nation. Many wished to remain anonymous, for fear of jeopardizing their jobs. Others spoke on the record. But the sources are consistent about the atmosphere Pruden and Coombs have fostered inside the paper, which they describe as profoundly demeaning and abusive to women and minorities. ...

Approaching his seventieth birthday, Pruden is described by several sources as an "absentee landlord" who has tacitly handed control over to Coombs. Now Coombs is driving the paper to the far shores of the right. Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Project executive director Mark Potok credits the Times with helping to fuel the nativism that has taken hold this year in Republican political campaigns. "The Times is a terrible little newspaper that unfortunately has vastly disproportionate influence on the right wing of the Republican Party," Potok said. "The vast majority of people who read it don't realize that this paper is in bed with bigots and white supremacists. The Times is a key part of the radical right's apparatus in the United States."

The article recounts Pruden's Little Rock roots and notes (shades of the Democrat-Gazette's David O. Dodd Day observance):

In 1993 Pruden gave an interview to the now-defunct neo-Confederate magazine Southern Partisan, which routinely published proslavery apologias and attacks on Abraham Lincoln. Pruden boasted, "Every year I make sure that we have a story in the paper about any observance of Robert E. Lee's birthday.... And the fact that it falls around Martin Luther King's birthday."

"Makes it all the better," interjected a Partisan editor.

"I make sure we have a story. Oh yes," said Pruden.

There's lots more.

UPDATE: The targets respond.

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