“Frontline: The Resurrection of Reverend Moon”
Below is a transcript of the January 21, 1992 broadcast
Eric Nadler, reporter.
Written and produced by Rory O’Connor.
Rory O’Connor is CEO of Globalvision New Media, producers of MediaChannel.
This is a Public Television piece on the Unification Church, which was rebranded as The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in 1996. It was founded by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Since his death in 2012 it has been led by his widow, Hak Ja Han. She renamed the organization the Holy Parent’s Heavenly Community in 2020.
The video can be found here:
Updated September 26, 2020
Reverend Sun Myung Moon has been spending vast sums of money lately, investing in tourism and industry in North Korea, and trying to buy a university in Bridgeport, Connecticut for $50million. But Moon’s objectives have remained a mystery.
Now Frontline has completed a revealing year-long investigation of Moon.
“Excuse me” [says a man as he closes a door on the cameraman.]
According to a highly placed source in the Unification Church, a top priority mission was to stop this report from airing. Tonight the story of Reverend Moon.
Fifteen years ago Moon was best known as a cult leader, but today Moon presides over a financial, political and media empire. Frontline investigates the extent of his power and the ultimate sources of his funding.
Paul Weyrich: “Here is what disturbs me; it is the lack of knowledge of who is behind it, where the funding is coming from, and what are their ultimate objectives.
Tonight, The Resurrection Of Reverend Moon.
(Soundtrack) Rally: “USA, USA, USA!”
Narrator: On February 9, 1991, in Rapid City, South Dakota, more than a thousand people rallied in support of U.S. troops fighting in the Persian Gulf.
Narrator: The rally was sponsored in part by a group of local veterans. Dianne Petersen was the rally’s principal organizer.
Petersen: “I’m a vet myself and I have, I had a sister over there and I really just wanted to do something in support of the troops…So I organized what I called the Little Yellow Ribbon Walk…
Petersen walking in parade: “It’s great, many more than I expected.”
Petersen: “And I was approached by the American Freedom Coalition, who told me they had a rally planned for the same day and wanted to merge with me.”
Narrator: The American Freedom Coalition was a group few people in Rapid City had heard of – and one citizen, Marv Kammerer, was curious.
Kammerer: “About the same time I noticed a billboard on the east side of Rapid City that said Support Our Troops, Join the Freedom March, and on that same sign was the American Freedom Coalition…You know when people buy billboards, it takes money, and local groups, don’t spend that kind of money … I get to thinking, ‘What is this?’ I ask my Congressmen and Senators and they don’t tell me. They don’t give me the information. So I go to the library and I find some interesting things. The American Freedom Coalition is an extension of the Unification Church – Moonies for short.”
Mazzio: “And to find out the Unification Church is behind it, that sort of, you know, sort of threw me. Um, I say to myself, ‘What are they trying to gain from this?’ Because everybody’s heard of the Unification Church. We’ve all heard of the Reverend Moon. What’s he got behind it?”
Petersen: “I felt a little bit abused because…. I felt I was used, my influence with the veteran’s organizations was probably a little bit used.”
Kammerer: “The vets did not know who they were associated with and that is their own damn fault. One has to be very careful when people start waving the flag, finding out really what is behind it and what are their motives. We have a weakness in this country to almost give away the bank, if someone waves a flag high enough and long enough. Especially if he packs a Bible.”
Narrator: The day before the Rapid City rally, the 18th annual Conservative Political Action Conference was underway in Washington. Part cocktail party, part political bazaar, part serious examination of the issues, its sponsors included pillars of the American right, such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Conservative Union. There was also the American Freedom Coalition.
Narrator: Robert Grant, president of the American Freedom Coalition, spoke at a conference banquet. In his remarks, Grant announced that the AFC was sponsoring pro-Desert Storm rallies not just in South Dakota, but in all fifty states.
Grant: “With Governors and Congressmen and Senators and veterans organizations working together to send a message across the seas to Saddam Hussein and the men and women of Desert Storm.”
Rev. Jackie Roberts: “Once again, let’s say God bless America! (People answer ‘God Bless America’) C’mon God bless America!”
Narrator: The American Freedom Coalition’s Desert Storm rallies are only the latest effort by Sun Myung Moon to influence American public opinion. Moon’s Unification Movement has long supported the projection of American military power overseas.
(Soundtrack) Song: “With a mission to fly and a job to be done. He’s missing his wife, and his children.”
Narrator: Moon has also consistently promoted a conservative political agenda in the United States. His efforts have not gone unnoticed at the White House. Douglas Wead was a Special Assistant to President Bush responsible for liaison with conservative groups.
Wead: “I’d say right now there are probably two groups among conservative organizations that really have an infrastructure, that have grassroots clout Concerned Women of America would and the American Freedom Coalition would.”
Narrator: During the 1988 election, the AFC printed and distributed 30 million pieces of political literature, including these glossy voter scorecards.
Wead: “I think the scorecards and some of the independent literature published had an enormous effect. In fact, we had huge notebooks filled with published materials from a wide variety of organizations. The best was probably the AFC’s. It was by far the slickest and the finest produced material. And when that doesn’t cost you anything, and it is not charged against the campaign and is widely distributed to mailing lists across the country, that has a very important impact.”
Narrator: The AFC’s activities have prompted renewed questions about Sun Myung Moon’s involvement in American politics. The AFC calls itself a grassroots organization committed to supporting conservative causes. AFC leaders deny that their group is an “appendage” of Moon’s movement, and they are sensitive about the issue. When we asked Robert Grant to discuss AFC ties to Moon, he refused. In a letter to FRONTLINE, Grant stated “I see no point in speaking with you either on camera or off camera.”
And when Frontline reporter Eric Nadler visited AFC headquarters, no one would talk.
Nadler: We were just hoping that someone could speak to us.
Receptionist: Not at this time
Nadler: Not at any time, apparently.
Receptionist: Thank you.
Nadler: Have a nice day
Narrator: We had hoped to ask Robert Grant about allegations that the AFC is violating federal law; namely, the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Just before World War Two, Congress passed the act, concerned that Japanese and German interests in the U.S. were influencing American public opinion. The act states that any organization involved in political activities and controlled or directed by a foreign principal must register with the Justice Department. It must also report on its activities and provide detailed accounts of its foreign sources of funding.
Narrator: Is the American Freedom Coalition a foreign agent? In 1989, Robert Grant wrote in the Washington Post that more than $5 million one third of the AFC’s money came from “business interests of the Unification Church.” Church officials say that their money comes from overseas primarily from Japan.
Narrator: Media analyst Brent Bozell is a member of the AFC national policy board.
Bozell: “If it were to come out that what the AFC is doing is being done at the direction of Reverend Moon, it would lose its fifty chapters overnight. That allegation has been out there since the day that AFC was formed and it hasn’t stuck because nobody has come up with the smoking gun that he’s done it.”
Narrator: But Moon’s influence over the AFC is underscored by this 1988 letter FRONTLINE obtained from a source who once worked within the Moon Organization. AFC President Robert Grant, writing to Reverend Moon, thanks him for investing heavily and “helping to bring the AFC into being.” Grant concludes by telling Moon, “Without your leadership, vision and the support of your devoted followers, the AFC would not exist.”
Narrator: The last time most Americans paid attention to Sun Myung Moon was nearly a decade ago. These are the images many still retain of Moon and the “Moonies,” as his followers once called themselves: mass weddings of complete strangers chosen as mates by Moon; flower-peddling in the street; and repeated allegations of mind control and brainwashing.
Parent before Congress: “Who can parents turn to when they realize their children have been innocently enslaved by Moon?”
Young woman at press conference: “Within one weekend I was totally, my mind was totally coerced into leaving home, into leaving my parents, into dropping out of school, into being, thinking that I was working for God.”
Narrator: A federal investigation into Moon’s finances led to a 1982 trial on charges of conspiracy and filing false tax returns.
Moon/Pak: “I must tell you that I am innocent.”
Narrator: As a convicted felon, Moon was sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. During his 13 months in prison, he faded from public consciousness.
(Soundtrack) Moon: “Distinguished leaders, religious leaders…”
Narrator: But Moon has been quietly gaining strength in the United States ever since. He still hints that he is the Messiah – most recently before five hundred religious leaders in San Francisco in August,1990.
Narrator: While Moon remains a controversial spiritual leader, his Church in America has a surprisingly small following, estimated to be no more than five thousand members.
Narrator: His Movement, once labelled a cult, is now more accurately described as a conglomerate. From media operations in the nation’s capital… To substantial real estate holdings throughout the United States… And from large commercial fishing operations… To advanced high-tech and computer industries, a Fifth Avenue publishing house, and literally dozens of other businesses, foundations, associations, institutes, and political and cultural groups… Moon and his money have become a force to be reckoned with.
Whelan: “All we know is they are spending a great, great deal in this country.”
Narrator: James Whelan was the editor and publisher of a Moon-financed newspaper, The Washington Times.
Whelan: “Probably more on influence and the obtaining of influence, of power, than of any organization I know of in this country, and that includes the AFL-CIO, that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that includes General Motors, that includes anybody.”
Narrator: How and why did Sun Myung Moon amass such power and influence? The search for answers begins here in Korea, nearly six thousand miles from America’s shores…
(Soundtrack) CONGREGATION SINGING
Narrator: The Unification faith is a new religion. It traces its origins back to Easter Sunday, 1936, when Jesus Christ supposedly appeared and asked the sixteen-year-old Moon to complete God’s work on Earth. Moon’s evangelical mission eventually landed him in a North Korean labor camp, where he claims he was tortured repeatedly. Moon escaped [let out by retreating prison guards], and according to Church lore, he marched south for weeks, carrying a wounded follower on his back. In 1951, in this shack made of U.S. Army ration boxes, Moon established his first church. [Moon carried Chung-hwa Pak for a few hundred yards on the journey south.]
Narrator: After the Korean War ended, several young military officers, including one named Bo Hi Pak, converted to the new Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. As the fifties ended, Moon and his missionaries left Korea to spread their faith. Their earliest success came in Japan.
Narrator: There the Church made political alliances and quickly established itself as much more than a religious movement.
Junas: “1960 really represents the founding moment of the Moon organization as a political entity…”
Narrator: Daniel Junas is the author of Moon Rising, a forthcoming history of the Unification Movement.
Junas: “But now grafted onto that you began to have a whole set of political operations, and this is where Moon really developed his theocratic ideology, where politics would be married to religion.”
Narrator: 1960 was a pivotal moment in U.S.-Asian relations. The Japanese and American governments signed a treaty allowing the Americans to maintain military bases in Japan and providing the Japanese access to America’s capital and technology.
Eisenhower: “The signing today of the treaty of mutual cooperation and security between Japan and the United States is truly a historic occasion.”
Narrator: The pact also allowed American forces in Japan to be equipped with nuclear weapons.
(Soundtrack) Newsreel Track: “In Japan, left-wing political and labor organizations step up the tempo of their protests against the Japanese-American security pact.”
Narrator: Thousands stormed the gates of the Japanese Parliament, enraged at the military concessions to the Americans.
Narrator: Japanese business and political leaders moved to quell the unrest, as brigades of right-wing students staged counter-demonstrations. Sun Myung Moon’s Japanese followers soon took to the streets as political activities on behalf of conservative business interests became central to the Unification Movement.
Narrator: When Moon’s missionaries came to America in the Sixties, their activities centered on Capitol Hill and college campuses.
Junas: “When Moon came to the United States, his organization would play much the same role in American society that it was already playing in Japan and South Korea. During the Vietnam war, Moon worked to build a right-wing student movement as a counterweight to the left-wing student movement that was objecting to American military involvement in Vietnam.”
Narrator: And in America, as he had in Japan, Moon began to move among the political elite: From Dwight Eisenhower… to Strom Thurmond… to Richard Nixon… Moon has glad-handed and corresponded with an astonishing array of political figures.
Narrator: Moon sought to influence the American political agenda by pouring more than a billion dollars into media.
Warder: “Moon looked on the media as almost the nervous system for a global empire.”
Narrator: In the 1970’s, Michael Warder became one of the most important Americans in the Unification movement. Warder says he had close contact with Moon for six years.
Warder: “Moon was the brain, and the media are to be, or were to be, the communications vehicle for his body politic surrounding the globe.”
Narrator: Warder was responsible for managing “News World,” Moon’s daily newspaper in New York City.
Warder: “Moon wanted total control of the media, so there would be no independent media with journalistic integrity. It would be a media totally loyal to Moon.”
Narrator: In 1977, Minnesota Democrat Donald Fraser launched the so-called “Koreagate” investigation, in part a probe into Moon’s relationship to the Korean CIA and the buying of political influence on Capitol Hill. Using its own media, Moon’s organization struck back, in an all-out effort to discredit Fraser.
“Truth Is My Sword” film track: “Mr. Fraser follows a far-leftist political line and is a well-known opponent of the Korean government. For him, Koreagate was a golden opportunity.”
Narrator: One of Moon’s media weapons was this film, Truth Is My Sword. Moon’s aide Bo Hi Pak led the charge.
(Film Track) Bo Hi Pak: “What if you are an agent of influence for Moscow here on the Hill? If these things are true, then the government of the United States itself is in grave danger. America’s very survival and the security of the free world are at stake.”
Warder: “Moon wanted a whole series of articles going after poor Congressman Fraser, who was heading up the congressional investigations there. And so we would assign reporters to try and dig up all the dirt we could find on Congressman Fraser, and of course I would say to Moon, I said, ‘On one hand, we’re supposed to be doing this but on the other hand, we’re competing with the New York Times. And so there’s matters of credibility here.’ And he would, you know, bluster and get angry at these kinds of things and say, ‘Just do what I’m ordering you to do and don’t ask so many questions,’ and that sort of thing. And of course Colonel Pak would reinforce these messages from Moon.”
(Film track) Bo Hi Pak: “I can not help but believe that you are being used as instrument of the devil. You, yes you, an instrument of the devil. I said it. Who else would want to destroy man of God but the Devil?”
Fraser: “I didn’t appreciate the accusations they were making against me. They were absolutely false. I think they knew they were false.”
Narrator: Donald Fraser is now the Mayor of Minneapolis.
Fraser: “…and the fact they would make them in a public forum like that I was really totally turned off and disgusted.”
(Film track) Pak: “So history might remember Donald Fraser, if it remembers him at all…”
Warder: “The Fraser subcommittee investigation in fact in a strange way helped the Movement, because for members it became this cosmic struggle of good against evil, of God against Satan.”
(Film track) Pak: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for thou art with me. Thank you Mister Chairman.”
Warder: “From the standpoint of the members, it was Jesus taking on the Roman empire. It was big. It was cosmic.”
Narrator: The Fraser Committee’s final report said Moon was the “key figure” in an “international network of organizations engaged in economic and political” activities. The Committee uncovered evidence that the Moon Organization “had systematically violated U.S. tax, immigration, banking, currency, and Foreign Agents Registration Act laws.” It also detailed how the Korean CIA paid Moon to stage demonstrations at the United Nations and run a pro-South Korean propaganda effort.
Narrator: Michael Hershman was the Fraser Committee’s chief investigator.
Hershman: “We determined that their primary interest, at least in the United States at that time, was not religious at all, but was political. It was an attempt to gain power and influence and authority.”
Narrator: The Fraser Committee recommended that the White House form a task force to continue to investigate Moon. That never happened. By the time Ronald Reagan was inaugurated, the idea of investigating Sun Myung Moon’s political activities was a dead issue.
Narrator: Ronald Reagan’s Presidency was hailed as the beginning of a conservative revolution. Activists from all over the United States came to the nation’s capitol.
Narrator: Ironically, with the revolution seemingly won, traditional sources of money for conservative politics such as direct mail fundraising began to dry up. But Moon, a VIP guest at the inauguration, soon became a major funder of Washington’s new conservative establishment.
Narrator: Brent Bozell was one of the young Reagan Revolutionaries.
Bozell: “When the Moonies entered the political scene in the early Nineteen Eighties…one school of thought said that they were a good organization, and that because of their anti-communist commitment, conservatives ought to work with them. ”
Narrator: David Finzer was another conservative activist who came to Washington in the early eighties. Finzer says he took more than four hundred thousand dollars from the Moon organization. He recalls one project the money paid for.
Finzer: “When the Left would run an anti-South Africa campaign, we’d run an anti-Soviet campaign. We’d say, ‘Okay, you want to disinvest from South Africa? Fine. Let’s also disinvest from the Soviet Union.’ And it was, it was a successful, it was a pretty successful campaign. We did some neat stuff they’d build shanty towns, we’d build gulags around them…”
Narrator: Moon’s most expensive political project was a newspaper, The Washington Times.
Whelan: “Washington is the most important single city in the world. If you can achieve influence, if you can achieve visibility, if you can achieve a measure of respect in Washington, then you fairly automatically are going to achieve these things in the rest of the world. There is no better agency, or entity or instrument that I know of for achieving power here or almost anywhere else than a newspaper.”
Narrator: The Washington Times had an immediate impact. The President of the United States, seen here with Times President Bo Hi Pak, said it was the first paper he read in the morning.
Weyrich: “Moon had money and he was willing to spend it.”
Narrator: Paul Weyrich, a co-founder of the Moral Majority, refuses to take Moon’s money. But he hails Moon’s newspaper as an antidote to its liberal competitor, The Washington Post.
Weyrich: “The Washington Post became very arrogant and they just decided that they would determine what was news and what wasn’t news and they wouldn’t cover a lot of things that went on. And The Washington Times has forced The Post to cover a lot of things that they wouldn’t cover if The Times wasn’t in existence.”
CNN Crossfire Open: “From Washington…”
Narrator: Soon Washington Times columnists found even greater exposure on television.
CNN Crossfire Open: “On the right, Pat Buchanan…”
Bozell: “If The Washington Times did not carry the conservative columnists that they carry like a Pat Buchanan, like a Bill Rusher, like a Mona Charen I wonder if the television community would be aware of them and would tap them to use them in television.”
Narrator: By 1984, despite his paper’s growing influence, James Whelan was unhappy.
Whelan: “When we started the paper there was never any question that it would in any fashion project the views or the agenda of Sun Myung Moon or the Unification Church all to the contrary. We said, ‘Look, we are going to put a high wall in place. It is going to be a sturdy wall. And it will divide us from you.'”
Narrator: But Whelan’s wall of editorial independence was often breached.
Whelan: “Moon himself gave direct instructions to the editors…Who in fact calls the shots? Ultimately Moon calls the shots….
Whelan (at press conference): “The Washington Times has become a Moonie newspaper.”
Narrator: Whelan resigned. Times spokesmen said the dispute was really over money. Whelan was later replaced by former Newsweek editor Arnaud de Borchgrave, seen here in a Moon-sponsored film.
De Borchgrave: “When I was in Europe recently, I was delighted to hear The Washington Times quoted every hour on the hour on the Voice of America and on the BBC two worldwide radio networks that happen to reach hundreds of millions of people.”
Narrator: De Borchgrave has consistently denied taking orders from Moon. But the man who ran the editorial pages under de Borchgrave tells a different story William Cheshire.
Cheshire: “I protested to de Borchgrave. I went up to his office when I saw this happening, I told him this was unethical, improper, unprofessional, and it ought to stop. Also, it was dumb.”
Narrator: Cheshire and four others resigned after de Borchgrave ordered an about face on an editorial critical of the South Korean government.
Cheshire: “I said, ‘Arnaud, we have a problem.’ He said, ‘What’s the problem?’ I said. ‘The problem is you’ve conferred with the owners of this newspaper, come back downstairs and demanded a reversal of editorial policy on their say so.”
Narrator: Questions about foreign control of The Washington Times have persisted for years. Other journalists, including Lars Erik Nelson of the New York Daily News, have called for a Justice Department investigation to determine if the Times violates the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Nelson: “The Justice Department doesn’t seem to want to know, and I’ve never gotten a clear answer from them as to why they don’t want to know.”
Nadler: “What have they told you?”
Nelson: “They’ve said, ‘Hmmm, that’s an interesting point.’ They say, ‘Hmmm, we’ll think about that.’ And they never get back to me.”
Cheshire: “The real question is why the Justice Department has such an absence of curiosity.”
Narrator: Washington Times officials repeatedly refused to comment to Frontline even when we showed up with our camera to press for some answers.
Nadler: “I’ve got a film crew here and I’m looking to see if there’s anyone that I can interview at The Washington Times for this story we’re doing.”
Narrator: The answer was no, and when we visited another Moon-funded publication, The World and I, the reception grew even colder.
Security Guard #1: “Yes sir, you all are on private property, you’ve been told that, you will wait here, the Metropolitan Police will come here.”
Security Guard #2: “I’m going to ask you to leave the property.”
Nadler: “OK, who are you, sir? Are you with the Metropolitan Police Department or with the security?”
SG #2: “I’m with the security department.”
Nadler: “Of The Washington Times Corporation?”
SG #2: “Of The Washington Times, that’s correct, and I’d like you to leave right now please.”
Nadler: “OK, I’ll leave. Why are the police here, by the way?”
Narrator: Later, the Times sent this statement, which said that “the complete editorial independence of The Washington Times is well-known, and envied, throughout the newspaper industry.”
Narrator: The Times gained respect and influence throughout the Reagan years, lending editorial support to causes favored by the Administration.
Reagan: “Freedom fighters will huddle close to their radios hoping to catch word that the administration in America will remain their friend.”
Narrator: The contra forces battling the Sandinista government in Nicaragua received editorial support and money from The Washington Times. Here’s how it worked:
Narrator: In March 1985, Oliver North wrote this top secret memo proposing the formation of a private foundation called the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund.
Narrator: Its purpose was to circumvent a Congressional ban on aid to the Contras. Less than two months later, The Washington Times announced the birth of the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund in a front-page editorial.
Narrator: Times editor Arnaud de Borchgrave insisted he was “surprised” at the coincidence between his paper’s initiative and North’s secret project. The Washington Times contributed the first $100,000 to the Freedom Fund.
(Soundtrack) Oliver North: “The worst outcome we could have would be the consolidation of a communist client state in Nicaragua.”
Narrator: When Oliver North was questioned by Congress about his role in funding the contras, The American Freedom Coalition rushed to his defense. The AFC produced this video, “Oliver North: Fight for Freedom,” which it broadcast more than 600 times on over 100 television stations.
Narrator: The program asked for donations. Tax records reveal that the video raised more than $3.2 million for the AFC.
Heston: “It only takes 30 minutes for a missile to get here from the Soviet Union. How far do you think you can get in 30 minutes?
Narrator: Another project of the Reagan Administration was the Strategic Defense Initiative SDI, or “Star Wars.” It also received support from The Washington Times and the American Freedom Coalition.
“If you really value life, if you want your children and your grandchildren to get out from under the threat of nuclear annihilation, then please, please demonstrate your support for SDI.”
Narrator: This pro-Star Wars video was paid for and distributed by the AFC.
(Soundtrack) “We can’t stop it? We can’t stop one damn missile? All I can do is watch a million people die, or start blowing up the whole world? They are my only choices?”
Graham: “Reverend Moon’s organization has been very supportive of the Strategic Defense Initiative.”
Narrator: Former Defense and Central Intelligence official Daniel Graham, who sits on the AFC national policy board, co-produced the video.
Graham: “It’s called ‘One Incoming,’ and it includes a scenario that I got Tom Clancy to write for us, and I got Charlton Heston to do the voiceover.”
(Soundtrack) Heston: “And for America, our choice will remain nuclear vengeance or nothing until SDI is deployed.”
Graham: “It cost a lot of money to produce it $200,000 and Grant said he could raise the $200,000. Now Grant is supported substantially by the Reverend Moon and I’m sure that’s where the money came from to produce that movie.”
Narrator: According to Graham, the film has been seen on four hundred television stations.
Narrator: Besides paying for his own media, Moon sought to influence other press outlets. One vehicle was the World Media Association.
Pak: ” And the founder is Reverend Moon, who is deeply concerned for the world media, particularly in the battle against communism all over the world; who sees that the role of the media is so vital and so important for the salvation of our civilization.”
Narrator: The World Media Association sponsors all-expense-paid conferences and junkets for journalists all over the world. As Bo Hi Pak told public station KQED in 1984, the Unification Movement used the association as a weapon for a larger crusade.
Pak: “But is a total war. Basically war of ideas. War of mind, the battlefield is the human mind. This is where the battle is fought. So in this war the entire thing will be mobilized, political means, social means, economical means and propagandistic means, and basically trying to take over the other person’s mind. That is what the third world war is all about the war of ideology.”
Narrator: While waging its global war of ideas, the Unification Movement was also fighting another battle to overcome the stigma of Moon’s 1982 conviction for tax evasion. To clear his name, Moon launched a campaign termed the “New Birth Project.” Its strategy was to show that Moon’s prosecution was really racial and religious persecution.
(Soundtrack) Moon/Pak: “I am here today only because my skin is yellow and my religion is Unification Church.”
Durst: “It’s a powerful state trying to break one religion-and what happens to Rev. Moon watch out will happen to many other religious figures.”
Pak: “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, amen!”
Narrator: Church leaders charged the media were part of the problem.
Durst: “We don’t like it. We don’t like to be abused by any newspaper, we don’t like to be abused by the media and we’re not going to take it.”
Narrator: But an adroit use of the media was part of the Unification plan. Moon bought full-page ads in leading newspapers, and sent videotapes explaining his theology to other religious leaders at a cost of more than four million dollars. Press conferences outside Moon’s prison helped spread the word.
Rev. Don Sills: “Today we have witnessed a travesty of the judicial system of our United States. The Reverend Sun Myung Moon has been unjustly convicted.”
Rev. Joseph Paige: “Reverend Moon, like myself, is a minority here in this country. And we don’t have the popular views of the mainline churches, we are about liberation.”
Narrator: The New Birth Project worked, and Moon was “born again” as a martyr to bigotry. After he left prison, he was celebrated by more than 1700 clergy at this “God and Freedom Banquet” in Washington.
Durst: “Ironically and perhaps historically there is something similar here to other religious movements from this persecution has come the greatest support and acceptance of the Unification movement. ”
Narrator: Part of the New Birth Project employed familiar Moon tactics. In July, 1985, a front organization was formed called the Committee to Defend the United States Constitution. Moon insider David Finzer was asked to join the board.
Finzer: “We executed all of the documents, and I understand the corporation was incorporated the very next day. Now that was the last I heard of the Committee to Defend the United States Constitution for about two years.”
Narrator: Finzer now claims that he didn’t learn until much later that the Committee to Defend the United States Constitution was a front group.
Finzer: “All of the money was spent for publications or advertising or events that supported Reverend Moon. We found a magazine that was put out under the Committee’s name. There was my name listed as one of the directors that I had never seen before. We found a check to the printer for $174,000, printed for that…The real purpose was not, I can tell you what it was not. It was not to support religious liberty. What it was, was to support and sanitize Reverend Moon’s name, to give the appearance of independent support instead of wholly-owned, bought support, to make him some kind of a First Amendment hero.”
Narrator: Moon ultimately went to the top in his effort to clear his name seeking a presidential pardon for his crimes.
Narrator: The point man was Max Hugel, a former Reagan campaign official and one-time deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency in charge of covert operations.
Hugel: “It is so important to have a superb intelligence agency.”
Narrator: Hugel was forced to leave the agency in the wake of a stock scandal.
(Soundtrack) PRESS CONFERENCE: Reporter off camera: “Can you tell us why you’re not choosing to stay on and fight?”
Narrator: Hugel later went into business with Jonathan Park, the son of Bo Hi Pak.
ATLANTIC VIDEO DEMO REEL: Announcer: “Through two huge sound locks are the best outfitted teleproduction studios in the region.”
Narrator: Hugel worked with Park to expand Moon’s electronic media empire, while also brokering contacts between Bo Hi Pak and Vice President George Bush.
Narrator: In this April, 1988 memo to Unification Church member Marc Lee, Hugel offers to arrange for Pak to have his picture taken with the Vice President at a cost of $50,000. Hugel also promises to try to get Bush to write to Pak. Two months later, Bush did write to Pak, and told him, “I hope we can meet again soon.” Did they discuss a pardon during their meeting? Neither President Bush nor Bo Hi Pak would comment to FRONTLINE.
Narrator: Later in 1988, Hugel also recruited the law firm of one of Ronald Reagan’s best friends to assist in Moon’s pardon effort former Senator Paul Laxalt.
(Soundtrack) Ronald Reagan: “The friend who understands you creates you, a wise man once said. Paul created because he always understood and for that I am and shall always be grateful.”
Narrator: Laxalt’s law firm was paid $100,000 up front and $50,000 a month to obtain a presidential pardon for Moon. According to billings submitted by the lawyers, Laxalt was directly involved in the pardon effort. This petition for executive clemency was delivered to the Justice Department, accompanied by letters from Senator Orrin Hatch, publisher William Rusher, civil rights leader Ralph Abernathy endorsing the pardon.
Narrator: The Washington Times also became involved in the pardon campaign. First, Editor Arnaud de Borchgrave wrote a “letter from the editor.”
Cheshire: “It was not really a letter to the editor, it was a letter to President Reagan urging President Reagan to grant Reverend Moon a presidential pardon.”
Narrator: Later, the Times ran this article examining Reagan’s record on pardons. After it appeared, Laxalt’s partner, Paul Perito, became alarmed. Perito warned Bo Hi Pak that “if a case can be made…that the Church allegedly controls and dictates the activities of organizations such as The Washington Times…this will affect our credibility and could materially damage our prodigious efforts.”
(Soundtrack) Off-Camera Female Reporter: “Any last thoughts for us, President and Mrs. Reagan, on your way out?”
Narrator: Ronald Reagan never pardoned Sun Myung Moon. Moon’s pardon application is still pending before the Bush Administration. Max Hugel, Paul Laxalt, and Paul Perito all refused to comment. Ronald Reagan also declined to comment.
Narrator: Is the New Birth Project continuing? In June,1991, Inquisition, a new, purportedly independent investigation of Moon’s 1982 tax fraud prosecution, was released by a Washington publisher, Regnery-Gateway. Its author, Carlton Sherwood, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who once worked for The Washington Times.
Narrator: Inquisition has a curious history. It was printed once before, by an obscure publishing house called Andromeda. The phone number listed for Andromeda in a leading publishing directory is the home phone of former Reagan National Security Council official Roger Fontaine an ex-reporter at The Washington Times. When we called, Fontaine’s wife Judy answered and said she knew nothing about Andromeda. Then she told us that the company was bankrupt and that Inquisition was published by Regnery-Gateway.
Narrator: Alfred Regnery is the head of Regnery-Gateway.
Regnery: “It is not unlike a lot of other books we have published. It is a story that deals with the First Amendment, which is something that is very dear to publishers, of course.”
Narrator: Alfred Regnery was told by Carlton Sherwood that the Moon Organization would purchase one hundred thousand copies of Inquisition at least according to former Washington Times editor James Whelan, another Regnery-Gateway author. But Alfred Regnery denies it.
Regnery: “I never said that to Jim, and I’ve never had any conversation with what’s his name-Bo?”
Narrator: “Bo Hi Pak.”
Regnery: “I’m not even sure who he is.”
Narrator: One week after talking to Regnery, FRONTLINE obtained a copy of a letter addressed to Sun Myung Moon. The letter was written by James Gavin, a Moon aide. Gavin tells Moon he reviewed the “overall tone and factual contents” of Inquisition before publication and suggested revisions. Gavin adds that the author “Mr. Sherwood has assured me that all this will be done when the manuscript is sent to the publisher.” Gavin concludes by telling Moon, “When all of our suggestions have been incorporated, the book will be complete and in my opinion will make a significant impact…. In addition to silencing our critics now, the book should be invaluable in persuading others of our legitimacy for many years to come.”
Narrator: Although he refused an on-camera interview, Carlton Sherwood told Frontline that the Unification Movement exerted no editorial control over his book.
Narrator: When we visited Gavin’s office in McLean, Virginia, our request for an interview was refused.
Narrator: Many questions about the Unification Movement remain unanswered. But none is more pressing or perplexing than this: Where does all the money come from? The Moon Organization has spent an astonishing amount in the United States:
-more than $800 million on the Washington Times;
-hundreds of millions on national periodicals;
-tens of millions on electronic media;
-at least $40 million on New York newspapers;
-more than $10 million on a New York publishing house;
-millions on World Media Association junkets and conferences;
-millions more on New Right organizations, including the American Freedom Coalition;
-well over $100 million on real estate, including the New Yorker Hotel in midtown Manhattan;
-at least $40 million on commercial fishing operations;
-and at least $75 million on the New Birth Project…
It all adds up to more than a billion dollars.
Narrator: But most of Moon’s operations in America are losing money. Virginia Commonwealth University professor David Bromley:
Bromley: “Most of the Unificationist Movement’s businesses, as far as I can tell, have lost substantial sums of money. Again, the best example is the Washington Times, which may have lost as much as fifty million dollars a year a major loser.”
Narrator: So where does the money come from? Moon himself told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, 1984: the money comes from overseas.
Moon: “Several hundred million dollars have been poured into America, because this nation will decide the destiny of the world, these contributions are primarily coming from overseas.”
Narrator: But from where overseas? Not from Korea. According to The Far Eastern Economic Review, many of the Church’s businesses in Korea “are performing poorly or need to make major new investments.” .
Narrator: For nearly two decades, it has been reported that one major Moon patron is Ryoichi Sasakawa, one of the richest men in Japan.
Narrator: Sasakawa’s money comes from his monopoly on the motorboat racing industry. Legalized gambling on the sport is a $14 billion a year industry in Japan.
Choate: “For more than a half century, Ryoichi Sasakawa has been one of the primary political brokers inside Japan.”
Narrator: Author Pat Choate, whose book, Agents of Influence, examines Japan’s campaign to shape America’s policy and politics…
Choate: “When Reverend Moon expanded his operations inside Japan, he asked Sasakawa to be one of the principal advisers to his Church inside Japan. Many of their operations the Sasakawa operations, the Moon operations seem to parallel each other. They operate in many of the same ways giving away money, a great deal of attention to media and media organizations, the establishment of think tanks and other policy organizations that operate across national borders, and the maintenance of a very right wing conservative focus.”
(Soundtrack) NEWSREEL – MUSSOLINI ADDRESSING CROWD
Narrator: Sasakawa’s right-wing associations go back more than fifty years. In 1939, he flew to Italy to meet Benito Mussolini, whom he called “the perfect fascist.”
Choate: “He formed one of the most radical of the fascist parties inside Japan. He was one of those individual business leaders that was calling for war with the United States.”
Narrator: Immediately after the war, Sasakawa was arrested and imprisoned by the U.S. Army as a war criminal. Sasakawa was sent to prison with two other suspected war criminals—Yoshio Kodama and Nobusuke Kishi. Kodama went on to become a leader of the “yakuza”, or organized crime syndicate of Japan. Kishi went on to become Japan’s Prime Minister. All three men reportedly played key roles in the early days of the Moon organization.
Junas: “Kishi had emerged as the front man for the Moon Organization in Japan. And Sasakawa served as an adviser… He was a behind-the-scenes powerbroker who was manipulating the Moon organization. Moon, in his own speeches, refers to his Japanese friend who is quite wealthy Mr. Sasakawa.”
Narrator: In 1967, Moon and Sasakawa are reported to have formed the Japanese chapter of the World Anti-Communist League, which funded anti-Communist insurgencies worldwide. Thousands cheered Moon at this 1970 rally in Tokyo.
Narrator: Today Sasakawa denies providing any financial or political assistance to Moon. Sasakawa told Frontline that he only met Moon once 25 years ago. Yet Moon in a 1973 speech claimed he was “very close” to Sasakawa and Bo Hi Pak called Sasakawa, Moon’s “chief ally in the battle against communism.”
Choate: “If they are using substantial amounts of the Japanese money, they are not only running a Korean agenda, but they’re also serving as political mercenaries for the Japanese. And it should be a matter of great concern.”
DESERT STORM RALLY FOOTAGE: “Support our troops, support our troops, support our troops!”
Narrator: Moon has been operating in the United States for thirty years. Whether Americans know it or not, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon is a force in their political lives.
Woman sings: “God bless America, my home, sweet home.”
Narrator: But some Americans are suspicious of Moon and question whether his political activities are in the interest of America.
Weyrich: “Here is what disturbs me. It is the lack of knowledge of the people who are being taken in by this activity of who is behind it, where the funding is coming from, and what are their ultimate objectives.”
Choate: “This should be the ultimate congressional investigation to lay all of this out before the American people and bring it into the sunshine and stop it.”
Narrator: Since 1978, Congress has demonstrated little interest in investigating Moon. And when we visited the Justice Department, officials there had nothing to say.
Scene – Eric Nadler at Justice Department.
“We’d like you to come down and answer the question, ‘Why the Justice Department isn’t investigating the Washington Times under the Foreign Agents Registration Act… No comment is your answer.'”
Narrator: We asked the White House to comment on the Unification Movement’s activities in America. We asked specifically about Bo Hi Pak’s 1988 meeting with Mr. Bush at his home, about the President’s knowledge of the campaign to obtain a pardon for Sun Myung Moon, about the help that the American Freedom Coalition gave his election campaign, and whether the President thought his Justice Department should investigate the Washington Times for possible violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The White House declined to comment.
Narrator: Finally, Reverend Moon also refused to talk to FRONTLINE. But in this Church-sponsored film, Reverend Moon in America, he had this to say:
“Now whether positively or negatively, America knows me and it happened quickly. At least I have America’s attention. Because of that, I will be able to tell the people the truth of God, the new revelation. The worst treatment America could give me is to ignore me. Now I can preach the truth.”
How Right-Wing Cult Leader Sun Myung Moon Bought Washington
With money, media and promotion of a conservative political agenda, a self-styled Messiah and convicted felon became a frequent guest at the White House.
By Rory O’Connor / RoryOConnor.org
November 13, 2009
“Moon looked on the media as almost the nervous system for a global empire. Moon was the brain, and the media are to be, or were to be, the communications vehicle for his body politic surrounding the globe.”
In January 1992, PBS Frontline broadcast a film I directed that documented the amazing rise, fall and subsequent resurrection of Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church movement. The documentary showed how, through an adroit combination of money, media and the consistent promotion of a conservative political agenda, a self-styled Messiah and convicted felon had rapidly reinvented himself and was soon hailed at the White House.
At the time, few Americans paid much attention to Reverend Moon – and those that did had bizarre recollections of him and the “Moonies,” as his followers once called themselves: mass weddings of complete strangers, flower-peddling in the street, and repeated allegations of mind control and brainwashing.
Even back then, Moon’s movement, once labeled a cult, was more accurately described as a conglomerate. As my film stated, “From media operations in the nation’s capital… To substantial real estate holdings throughout the United States… And from large commercial fishing operations… To advanced high-tech and computer industries, a Fifth Avenue publishing house, and literally dozens of other businesses, foundations, associations, institutes, and political and cultural groups… Moon and his money have become a force to be reckoned with.”
One of the primary vehicles for Moon’s rising power and influence was the daily newspaper the Washington Times, now back in the news because of the mysterious departure [see below] of its top executives, and facing an uncertain future.
But back then the Times was the fulcrum of Moon’s mission to use money and media as a path to power. As James Whelan, once the newspaper’s editor and publisher, told me at the time, “They are spending a great, great deal in this country…. probably more on influence and the obtaining of influence, of power, than of any organization I know of in this country, and that includes the AFL-CIO, that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that includes General Motors, that includes anybody.”
As he sought to influence America’s political agenda by pouring more than a billion dollars into media, Moon began to move among the country’s political elite: From Dwight Eisenhower…to Strom Thurmond…to Richard Nixon…to Ronald Reagan, he glad-handed and corresponded with an astonishing array of major American political figures.
Michael Warder was once one of the most important Americans in the Unification movement. Warder, who had close contact with Moon for years, told me, “Moon looked on the media as almost the nervous system for a global empire. Moon was the brain, and the media are to be, or were to be, the communications vehicle for his body politic surrounding the globe.”
Warder was responsible for managing News World, then Moon’s daily newspaper in New York City. “Moon wanted total control of the media, so there would be no independent media with journalistic integrity,” he said. “ It would be a media totally loyal to Moon.”
Moon’s troubles in America had begun in the mid-Seventies, when Minnesota Democratic Congressman Donald Fraser launched the so-called “Koreagate” investigation — in part a probe into Moon’s relationship to the Korean CIA and the buying of political influence on Capitol Hill. Using its own media, Moon’s organization struck back in an all-out effort to discredit Fraser.
“Moon wanted a whole series of articles going after poor Congressman Fraser, who was heading up the congressional investigations there,” Warder confided. “We would assign reporters to try and dig up all the dirt we could find on Congressman Fraser, and of course I would say to Moon, I said, ‘On one hand, we’re supposed to be doing this — but on the other hand, we’re competing with the New York Times. And so there’s matters of credibility here.’ And he would, you know, bluster and get angry at these kinds of things and say, ‘Just do what I’m ordering you to do and don’t ask so many questions.”
The Fraser Committee’s final report concluded that Moon was the “key figure” in an “international network of organizations engaged in economic and political” activities. It uncovered evidence that the Moon Organization “had systematically violated U.S. tax, immigration, banking, currency, and Foreign Agents Registration Act laws,” and detailed how the Korean CIA paid Moon to stage demonstrations at the United Nations and run a pro-South Korean propaganda effort.
Michael Hershman was the Fraser Committee’s chief investigator. He told me, “We determined that their primary interest, at least in the United States at that time, was not religious at all, but was political. It was an attempt to gain power and influence and authority.” The Fraser Committee recommended that the White House form a task force to continue to investigate Moon – but that never happened.
Perhaps the election of Ronald Reagan – hailed as the beginning of a conservative revolution – had something to do with that. In any event, Moon, a VIP guest at Reagan’s inauguration, soon became a major funder of Washington’s new conservative establishment.
Brent Bozell, now founder and president of the Media Research Center, was then one of the young Reagan Revolutionaries. “When the Moonies entered the political scene in the early Nineteen Eighties,” Bozell said, “One school of thought said…that because of their anti-communist commitment, conservatives ought to work with them.”
Moon’s most expensive political work involved the Washington Times. As former editor Whelan noted, “Washington is the most important single city in the world. If you can achieve influence, if you can achieve visibility, if you can achieve a measure of respect in Washington, then you fairly automatically are going to achieve these things in the rest of the world. There is no better agency, or entity or instrument that I know of for achieving power here or almost anywhere else — than a newspaper.”
And the Times had an immediate impact. After all, the President of the United States said it was the first paper he read in the morning. Soon its columnists found even greater exposure on television.
“If the Washington Times did not carry the conservative columnists that they carry — like a Pat Buchanan, like a Bill Rusher, like a Mona Charen,” Bozell said, “I wonder if the television community would be aware of them and would tap them to use them in television.”
But by 1984, despite his paper’s growing influence, editor James Whelan was increasingly unhappy. “When we started the paper there was never any question that it would in any fashion project the views or the agenda of Sun Myung Moon or the Unification Church — all to the contrary,” said Whelan. “We said, ‘Look, we are going to put a high wall in place. It is going to be a sturdy wall. And it will divide us from you.’”
But Whelan’s wall of editorial independence was often breached.
“Moon himself gave direct instructions to the editors,” he averred. “Who in fact calls the shots? Ultimately Moon calls the shots….”
Whelan eventually resigned, announcing at a press conference, “The Washington Times has become a Moonie newspaper.” Times spokesmen said the dispute was really over money. Former Newsweek editor Arnaud de Borchgrave later replaced Whelan.
De Borchgrave consistently denied taking orders from Moon — but the man who ran the editorial pages under de Borchgrave, William Cheshire, told a different story. “I protested to de Borchgrave,” Cheshire told me. “I went up to his office when I saw this happening, I told him this was unethical, improper, unprofessional, and it ought to stop. Also, it was dumb.”
Cheshire and four others resigned after de Borchgrave ordered an about-face on an editorial critical of the South Korean government. “I said, ‘Arnaud, we have a problem,’ ” Cheshire recalled. “He said, ‘What’s the problem?’ I said, ‘The problem is you’ve conferred with the owners of this newspaper, come back downstairs and demanded a reversal of editorial policy on their say so.”
Questions about control of the Washington Times persisted for years. Several journalists, including Lars Erik Nelson of the New York Daily News, called for a Justice Department investigation to determine if the paper violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act. “The Justice Department doesn’t seem to want to know, and I’ve never gotten a clear answer from them as to why they don’t want to know,” Nelson said. “They’ve said, ‘Hmmm, that’s an interesting point.’ They say, ‘Hmmm, we’ll think about that.’ And they never get back to me.”
Times officials sent a statement in reply, noting, “The complete editorial independence of the Washington Times is well-known, and envied, throughout the newspaper industry.”
Throughout the Reagan years, the paper gained respect and influence by lending editorial support – and money — to causes favored by the Administration. The contra forces battling the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, for example, received editorial support and money from the Times. Here’s how it worked:
In March 1985, Oliver North wrote a top-secret memo proposing the formation of a private foundation called the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund. Its purpose was to circumvent a Congressional ban on aid to the contras. Less than two months later, the Times announced the birth of the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund in a front-page editorial. Editor de Borchgrave insisted he was “surprised” at the coincidence between his paper’s initiative and North’s secret project, but the Times contributed the first $100,000 to the Fund.
Another pet project of the Reagan Administration was the Strategic Defense Initiative — SDI, or “Star Wars.” It too received support from the Times.
“Reverend Moon’s organization has been very supportive of the Strategic Defense Initiative,” former Defense and Central Intelligence official Daniel Graham told me. Graham had co-produced a pro-Star Wars video that was seen on four hundred televisions stations.
“It’s called ‘One Incoming,’” Graham said, “And it includes a scenario that I got Tom Clancy to write for us, and I got Charlton Heston to do the voiceover. It cost a lot of money to produce it — $200,000 … and I’m sure that’s where the money came from to produce that movie.”
Moon’s media tentacles also reached into book publishing, including one called Inquisition, a purportedly independent investigation of Moon’s 1982 tax fraud prosecution, released by the right-wing publishing house Regnery-Gateway. Its author, Carlton Sherwood, was a reporter who once worked for the Washington Times. (Sherwood made headlines in 2004 when he produced the controversial video Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal, which featured interviews with American POW’s in North Vietnam who complained that they had been maltreated as a direct result of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s Fulbright Hearing Testimony in 1971.
Inquisition had a curious history. An obscure publishing house called Andromeda had printed it once before. The phone number listed for Andromeda was the home phone of former Reagan National Security Council official Roger Fontaine — also an ex-reporter at the Washington Times. But when we called Fontaine’s house, his wife Judy answered and told us that the company was bankrupt and that Inquisition was published by Regnery-Gateway. Alfred Regnery is the head of Regnery-Gateway.
According to former Times editor Whelan, himself a Regnery-Gateway author, Alfred Regnery was told by Carlton Sherwood that the Moon Organization would purchase at least one hundred thousand copies of Inquisition. Alfred Regnery denied it, and although he refused an on-camera interview, Sherwood said the Unification Movement had exerted no editorial control over his book.
In the wake of the current turmoil and uncertainty at the Washington Times, many questions about the Unification Movement remain unanswered. But none is more pressing — or perplexing — than this: Where did all the money come from? At the time of the broadcast of the PBS Frontline film – seventeen years ago — the Moon Organization had already spent an astonishing amount in the United States:
• more than $800 million on the Washington Times;
• hundreds of millions on national periodicals;
• tens of millions on electronic media;
• at least $40 million on New York newspapers;
• more than $10 million on a New York publishing house;
• millions on World Media Association junkets and conferences;
• millions more on New Right organizations, including the American Freedom Coalition;
• well over $100 million on real estate, including the New Yorker Hotel in midtown Manhattan;
• at least $40 million on commercial fishing operations;
• and at least $75 million on related projects…
It all added up to more than a billion dollars – at a time when most of Moon’s operations in America were losing substantial sums of money. The best example was the Washington Times itself, which was then losing as much as fifty million dollars a year.
What did all the money buy Reverend Moon? Like many others, he refused to talk to me for the film. But in a Church-sponsored film, Reverend Moon in America –one of the many media efforts he spun out in the Eighties— he had this to say:
“Now whether positively or negatively, America knows me — and it happened quickly. At least I have America’s attention. Because of that, I will be able to tell the people the truth of God, the new revelation. The worst treatment America could give me is to ignore me. Now I can preach the truth.”
The Money Behind Moon’s Washington Times
Where did all the money come from to keep the money-losing Moonie paper afloat all these years?
December 2, 2009
Of all the many questions [see report below] swirling around the fate of Sun Myung Moon’s daily newspaper the Washington Times, none is as puzzling as this: where did all the money come from to keep the paper afloat all these years?
Like many American newspapers, Washington’s “other” daily is now hemorrhaging money. Unlike most, however, red ink is nothing new for the Times, which has been a major money loser ever since its inception in 1982. But money has never been a problem for the man behind the Times – convicted felon and self-styled “Messiah” Sun Myung Moon. As I reported in my previous post, the Korean cult leader spent well over a billion dollars in just the decade of 1982-92 — at a time when most of his operations in America were losing substantial sums. …
Along the way, the Washington Times became the centerpiece of a successful effort by Moon to influence American public opinion and promote a conservative political agenda in the United States. His movement, once merely labeled a cult, is now most accurately described as a conglomerate. From his extensive media operations in the nation’s capital… To substantial real estate holdings throughout the United States… And from large commercial fishing operations… To advanced high-tech and computer industries, a Fifth Avenue publishing house, and literally dozens of other businesses, foundations, associations, institutes, and political and cultural groups… Moon and his money became a force to be reckoned with – in large part because, as award-winning investigative reporter Robert Parry has written, his daily mouthpiece the Times “targeted American politicians of the center and left with journalistic attacks – sometimes questioning their sanity, as happened with Democratic presidential nominees Michael Dukakis and Al Gore. Those themes then resonate through the broader right-wing echo chamber and into the mainstream media.”
Exactly how much money the Washington Times itself loses annually is still a closely held secret – as is the specific source of the funds. But it’s safe to assume that Moon’s American money comes from overseas — as he himself told the Senate Judiciary Committee in June, 1984:
Moon: “Several hundred million dollars have been poured into America, because this nation will decide the destiny of the world, these contributions are primarily coming from overseas.”
But where precisely does the money come from? As I first reported in my PBS Frontline documentary The Resurrection of Reverend Moon, most of Moon’s money comes from Japan.
One early Moon patron was a man named Ryoichi Sasakawa, once one of the richest men and the chief political brokers in Japan. Sasakawa’s money came from his monopoly on the motorboat racing industry. (Legalized gambling on the sport is a multi-billion dollar a year industry in Japan.) According to author Pat Choate, whose book Agents of Influence examined Japan’s effort to shape America’s policy and politics, “When Reverend Moon expanded his operations inside Japan, he asked Sasakawa to be one of the principal advisers to his Church inside Japan. Many of their operations — the Sasakawa operations, the Moon operations — seem to parallel each other. They operate in many of the same ways — giving away money, a great deal of attention to media and media organizations, the establishment of think tanks and other policy organizations that operate across national borders, and the maintenance of a very right wing conservative focus.”
In addition, Moon’s Japanese fund-raising machinery is another central source of his financial might in the United States.
Substantial sums appear to be the result of so-called “spiritual sales” or swindles. The church concentrates on attracting older people, particularly women, and then pressures them to turn over their assets or take large loans against them, turning the money over to the church. Many are specifically told to donate money so it may be used for the Washington Times.
With all that money coming into the US from abroad – much of it illegally — who controls what is done with it? That same question was asked — and answered – decades ago by the U.S. Congress in the so-called Fraser Report, the result of Minnesota Democratic Congressman Donald Fraser’s “Koreagate” investigation, in part a probe into Moon’s relationship to the Korean CIA and the buying of political influence on Capitol Hill:
“Moon provides considerably more than spiritual guidance to his worldwide organization. The statements and testimony of former members and officials in Moon’s Organization, evidence gleaned from internal UC publications, memos, other documents, and financial records all show that Moon exercises substantial control over temporal matters. These include the transfer of funds from one organization to another, personnel changes and allocations, the structure and operation of fundraising teams, the timing and nature of political demonstrations, and the marketing of goods produced by the organization’s businesses. As in any organization so large and complex, there are advisers, lieutenants, and managers with varying degrees of influence and authority to speak and act on behalf of the organization; however, there is every indication that regardless of the title he might or might not hold in any one corporate structure, Moon can and often does make the final decision on a course of action.”
The findings of the Fraser committee further describe the organization’s control this way:
(1) The UC and numerous other religious and secular organizations headed by Sun Myung Moon constitute essentially one international organization. This organization depends heavily upon the interchangeability of its components and upon its ability to move personnel and financial assets freely across international boundaries and between businesses and nonprofit organizations.
(2) The Moon Organization attempts to achieve goals outlined by Sun Myung Moon, who has substantial control over the economic, political, and spiritual activities undertaken by the organization in pursuit of those goals.
The Fraser Committee’s final report said Moon was the “key figure” in an “international network of organizations engaged in economic and political” activities. The Committee uncovered evidence that the Moon Organization “had systematically violated U.S. tax, immigration, banking, currency, and Foreign Agents Registration Act laws.” It also detailed how the Korean CIA paid Moon to stage demonstrations at the United Nations and run a pro-South Korean propaganda effort.
“We determined that their primary interest, at least in the United States at that time, was not religious at all, but was political,” said Michael Hershman, the Fraser Committee’s chief investigator. “It was an attempt to gain power and influence and authority.”
The Fraser Committee recommended that the White House form a task force to continue to investigate Moon – but that never happened.
Besides the money ‘invested’ in the Washington Times, Moon also invested in paid speaking fees to political figures, such as former President George H.W. Bush, who appeared at Moon-organized functions in the United States, Asia and South America. (At the 1996 launch of Moon’s South American newspaper, Bush hailed Moon as “the man with the vision.”) In 2004, he was even given space in the Senate’s Dirksen building for a coronation of himself as “savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent.” (The Hill, June 22, 2004)
Now that the investments have paid off for him and his family is being split apart in a struggle to succeed him, don’t be surprised to see Moon & Co. avoid a nasty succession battle at the Times, and instead simply fold the money-sucking daily… But even if the Washington Times — Moon’s most expensive political project was a newspaper — does soon become history, history will also “surely record that Moon’s $3 billion-plus investment succeeded in buying a remarkable degree of Washington influence – and legal protection – for his dubious political/business/religious empire.”
As former Washington Times editor and publisher James Whelan concluded, “Washington is the most important single city in the world. If you can achieve influence, if you can achieve visibility, if you can achieve a measure of respect in Washington, then you fairly automatically are going to achieve these things in the rest of the world. There is no better agency, or entity or instrument that I know of for achieving power here or almost anywhere else — than a newspaper.”
Filmmaker and journalist Rory O’Connor is the author of “Shock Jocks: Hate Speech and Talk Radio” (AlterNet Books, 2008). O’Connor also writes the Media Is A Plural blog.
Update: A Shake-Up at The Washington Times
November 9, 2009 12:37 pm
The Washington Times has fired three top executives, the paper announced on Monday, and it refused to say whether the paper’s top editor would also leave.
The Times dismissed Thomas P. McDevitt, the president and publisher; 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 a consulting firm, Tatum, to help run the business.
The executive editor, John Solomon, was not in The Times’ offices Monday, amid speculation that he might step down. The story was first reported by Politico.com. In a meeting with the staff, Mr. Slevin did not shed light on that question.
Calls to The Times were referred to Don Meyer, an outside public relations consultant. When asked about Mr. Solomon, Mr. Meyer said, “I don’t have any information on his status right now.” He said he could not offer any explanation for the shake-up.
Among those who declined comment was David Jones, the managing editor. But Talking Points Memo quoted Mr. Jones on whether Solomon leaves Washington Times as saying that Mr. Solomon, who was hired away from The Washington Post in early 2008, “is taking a few days to consider his options.”
The paper is owned by the Unification Church. Last year, the church’s longtime leader, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, named one of his sons, Hyung Jin Moon, the new president of the church.
The Times had weekday circulation of just 67,148 in the six months ended Sept. 30, down 17 percent from a year earlier – a fraction of the figures for its major competitors. But as a platform for conservative opinion, it is more influential than the circulation numbers indicate.
It draws more than 2 million monthly readers online, according to Nielsen Online, making it one of the nation’s top 20 newspaper sites.
https:// mediadecoder. blogs. nytimes. com/2009/11/09/a-shakeup-at-the-washington-times/?_r=0
Moon’s Japanese Profits Bolster Efforts in U.S. A top leader, Yoshikazu Soejima, was interviewed by The Washington Post in 1984
Robert Parry’s investigations into Sun Myung Moon
The Fall of the House of Moon – New Republic
Sun Myung Moon: The Emperor of the Universe
Sun Myung Moon and the United Nations
United States Congressional investigation of Moon’s organization
Gifts of Deceit – Robert Boettcher
FBI and other reports on Sun Myung Moon
Politics and religion interwoven
Sun Myung Moon organization activities in South America
Tragedy of the Six Marys translated video transcript
Right-wing authoritarianism is winning — but higher education is where we can fight back – Salon
Daniel Junas: The Moon Organization Academic Network (1991)
Moon Rising: The History and Politics of the Unification Church
by Daniel Junas
The six ‘wives’ of Sun Myung Moon
FFWPU human trafficking is despicable
A huge Unification Church / FFWPU scam in Japan is revealed
Shocking video of UC of Japan demanding money – English transcript
Top Japanese leader, Yoshikazu Soejima, interviewed
Moon extracted $500 million from Japanese female members
6,500 women missing from FFWPU mass weddings
FFWPU / UC of Japan used members for profit, not religious purposes
How Moon bought protection in Japan
“Apology marriages” made by Japanese UC members to Korean men
The Atsuko Kumon Hong “suicide / murder” of August 2013
In order to rule the world, Sun Myung Moon had to start with Korea.
Sun Myung Moon’s One-World Theocracy
The Moon Organization and the KCIA – ‘Privatizing’ covert action
“Moon used to play golf regularly with Kim Jong-pil”
How Sun Myung Moon’s organization helped to establish Bolivia as South America’s first narco-state.
Sun Myung Moon’s desire to take over the League for his own financial and political ends
Fraser Committee Report on Moon org.: “these violations were related to the overall goals of gaining temporal power.”
My experience within the hierarchy of the Moon cult during its years of expansion in Russia and in the CIS
Press Release on the FFWPU by the Department of Communication, Nizhny Novgorod province, Russia
Sun Myung Moon was eager to infiltrate the European Parliament
Group Founded by Sun Myung Moon Preaches Sexual Abstinence in China
Mongolia – Battleground of the Han and Kwak groups