Moon Over Kerry

Does the Rev. Moon have it in for Kerry? And how does Carlton Sherwood, producer of the anti-Kerry doc of Sinclair fame, fit into the fray?
Is Sun Myung Moon, self-proclaimed Messiah, True Father, and major media magnate, out to get John Kerry? Award-winning investigative producer Robert Parry thinks so, and recently laid out his case in a detailed report, Kerry Attacker Protected Rev. Moon.

As I reported last week (Stolen Honor: the Moon Connection), Carlton Sherwood, producer of the controversial anti-Kerry film "Stolen Honor: Wounds That Never Heal," wrote an investigative book in the 1980s looking into the activities of Sun Myung Moon and followers in the Unification Church. In "Inquisition: The Prosecution and Persecution of Reverend Sun Myung Moon," Sherwood concluded that Moon and his associates "were and continued to be the victims of the worst kind of religious prejudice and racial bigotry this country has witnessed in over a century."

But, as was revealed in "The Resurrection of Reverend Moon," my 1992 documentary for the PBS Frontline series, there is ample reason to question Sherwood's conclusions, since evidence exists that Moon subsidized the book – promising to purchase 100,000 copies of Inquisition – and that he played a role in the creation of it. A letter, addressed to Moon from his aide James Gavin, stated that Gavin had reviewed the "overall tone and factual contents" of Inquisition before publication and had suggested revisions.

"Mr. Sherwood has assured me that all this will be done when the manuscript is sent to the publisher," Gavin wrote. "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."

It's therefore fair to ask, as Parry does, whether or not "Sherwood's longstanding ties to Moon's organization raise other troubling questions." Although Sherwood and his publisher deny any impropriety, it is undeniable that the book was part of a successful campaign to rehabilitate Moon following his 1982 conviction for tax law violations and to muzzle his critics.

Meanwhile, the purported Messiah was taking other media measures to help himself and a wide range of conservative pals, spending literally billions of dollars on a variety of print and video outlets – most notably the daily Washington Times, created in 1982 as an amplifier for conservative voices. As a result, Moon was able to gain access at the very highest levels of the U.S. government – including to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, who accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Moon's organization for giving speeches after leaving the White House.

As quid for a presumed subsequent quo, Moon's newspaper regularly promoted numerous conservative causes, including that of the "contra" rebels fighting to overthrow Nicaragua's leftist Sandinista government. His organization and the Reagan-Bush team also cooperated in covering up evidence of a contra-connected drug smuggling ring.

That same contra-cocaine-connection was the subject, in 1986, of a Senate investigation by – you guessed it – John Kerry. Soon Kerry found himself under the microscope of the Washington Times, as the newspaper attacked his probe for being "extensive, expensive, in vain," as one headline put it.

Later, in front page articles, the Times accused Kerry's staff of obstructing justice because the investigation allegedly interfered with federal government efforts to get at the truth. "Congressional investigators for Sen. John Kerry severely damaged a federal drug investigation last summer by interfering with a witness while pursuing allegations of drug smuggling by the Nicaraguan resistance, federal law enforcement officials said," one of the articles reported.

Kerry's investigation concluded that "individuals who provided support for the contras were involved in drug trafficking, the supply network of the contras was used by drug trafficking organizations, and elements of the contras themselves knowingly received financial and material assistance from drug traffickers ... In each case, one or another agency of the U.S. government had information regarding the involvement either while it was occurring or immediately thereafter."

But the New York Times (and other mainstream media) didn't take Kerry's findings any more seriously than the Washington Times. Newsweek summed up the prevailing wisdom, calling Kerry a "randy conspiracy buff."

Years later, of course, the CIA's own inspector general corroborated Kerry's findings, reporting that both contras and contra-related entities had become involved in the cocaine trade during the 1980s, and that incriminating information known to the Reagan-Bush administration was withheld from Congress.

Now it appears that Moon may be trying to keep its old adversary out of the White House and away from control of the Justice Department. First the Washington Times began battering Kerry regularly again, and then Carlton Sherwood reappeared to call Kerry a traitor for his anti-Vietnam War activities – on the largest chain of television stations in the United States, one with substantial and well documented political ties to the Republicans.

Do conservatives want to make sure another Moon-friendly Bush stays in the White House? Would a Kerry victory mean trouble for Moon and his media empire? And what's with all these born-again Christians from the religious right consorting with a man who's dubbed himself the Messiah? Inquiring minds want to know.
Rory O'Connor is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. He is also president and co-founder of the international media firm Globalvision, Inc. This story first appeared on his blog: "Media is a Plural."
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