The Most Objective Name in News

Apparently, the 25th Anniversary of the establishment of The Washington Times qualifies as national news.  At least it does to The Washington Times, which ran a 2200+ word “article” about itself on its own “Nation/Politics” page yesterday.  

Written by one of its own staff members, The Times’ love letter to itself is remarkable for its complete and utter lack of humility.  

As the piece explains, the Vietnam War and Watergate “contributed to a surge of self-regard among the news elite” that “curdled into an inflexible, often arrogant bias that has cost news organizations the public’s trust” – but not The Times and that it is why it became the “vanguard of a media insurgency”:

The Times, however, has upheld traditional journalism standards with far fewer resources than its more lavishly funded competitors. Indeed, The Times earned its credibility precisely because of its shoe-leather reporting on corruption at every level of government as well as its scoops on issues involving national security and U.S. intelligence services.

The tumultuous administration of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, the House banking scandal, the exposure of Rep. Barney Frank’s live-in call boy, President Clinton’s Whitewater troubles, the 1995 budget showdown between Mr. Clinton and the Republican Congress, the September 11 terrorist attacks — on these stories and many others, The Times has been a vital source of information.

For some reason, nowhere in the piece is it mentioned that the paper was started by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a man who admitted back in 1991 that “literally nine hundred million to one billion dollars has been spent to activate and run the Washington Times.

Just as The Times is anything but modest about its accomplishments, it is likewise swollen with pride over its ability to maintain its “standards of objectivity” – with “objectivity” presumably meaning “serving as a reliable mouthpiece for the Right”:

To some, The Times’ overarching mission — defeating communism — may have seemed quixotic in 1982; the Cold War had reheated, and the economic renewal and military reconstitution triggered by the Reagan administration had yet to gather steam.

The founding vision of The Times proved prescient, and the methodology with which the paper pursued that vision had practical implications as well. By boosting the morale of the pro-American West and delivering a real, dependable product, The Times both instilled the spirit and created the architecture for today’s news counterestablishment.

Indeed, by succeeding as an independent voice in a town that had become stony ground for “second” newspapers, The Times taught an important lesson that still resonates: The news elite shouldn’t have the last word on what is and what is not news.

It seems clear for now, at least, that bloggers, like their forerunner The Times, have been a check on mainstream news outlets that often ignore facts that don’t square with their cherished stereotypes. Or, in the case of Mr. Rather’s discredited “60 Minutes II” report on President Bush’s Air National Guard service, their monomaniacal vendettas.

Like other papers transitioning into the age of the Web, The Times champions new technology but resists challenges to standards of objectivity.

While The Times itself basks in its lofty mission of defeating communism and creating a ”news counterestablishment,” Moon, its founder and primary funder, had slightly different goal for the paper, as he explained in 1997:

I established The Washington Times to fulfill God’s desperate desire to save this world. Since that time, I have devoted myself to raising up The Washington Times, hoping that this blessed land of America would fulfill its world-wide mission to build a Heavenly nation. Meanwhile, I waged a lonely struggle, facing enormous obstacles and scorn as I dedicated my whole heart and energy to enable The Washington Times to grow as a righteous and responsible journalistic institution … The efforts of The Times to revitalize the moral and spiritual values of the United States and the world are being recognized as absolutely urgent and necessary at this time.

Also unmentioned in the Times’ Most Glorious History of Ourself was the infamous event cosponsored by the paper in a congressional office building, attended by several members of Congress who later said they were duped into participating, at which Moon declared “himself the Messiah and said his teachings have helped Hitler and Stalin be ‘reborn as new persons.’”