Washington Times editorial page editor William P. Cheshire
and four of his staff members resigned April 14, charging that
Times editor-in-chief Arnaud de Brochgrave had allowed
an executive of the Unification Church to dictate editorial policy.
The Times is owned by News World Communications, Inc.,
a corporation affiliated with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon's church.
"It is no longer possible, in my judgment, for the Times
to maintain independence from the Unification Church under the
editorship of Mr. de Borchgrave, if it is indeed at all,"
Cheshire said during a meeting that included de Borchgrave, the
staff agreed on the substance of an editorial on the recent upheavals
in South Korea. Cheshire's deputy, Michael Bonafield, said the
editorial board planned to write that South Korean president Chun
had "overplayed his hand and was acting in an autocratic
manner" toward the opposition in his country.
After the conference, Cheshire said, de Borchgrave met privately
with Sang Kook han, a Korean who is a high official in the UC
and a top executive of the newspaper. After that meeting, Cheshire
said, de Borchgrave changed his mind about the editorial and told
Bonafield that "we were to support the president [Chun],
that the opposition were flakes
"My senior staff and I did not consider his performance in
keeping with our agreement on 'church-state' separation,"
Cheshire said. "We all agreed it represented an unambiguous
and clear-cut intrusion of the church, at Mr. de Borchgrave's
invitation, into the editorial direction of the newspaper."
De Borchgrave called Cheshire's charge that the U.C. was meddling
in the paper's editorial policy "absolute nonsense."
He insisted that Mr. Han "would never dare make an editorial
suggestion to me" and that he had "never received a
single editorial suggestion" from U.C. members.