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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?

Editor’s note: This is part two of a series on the Washington Times. You can read Part One Here.

Of all the many questions 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:

• 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…

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.”

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