December 10, 2009

The Moonie-run Washington Times recently announced it was laying off 40 percent of its workforce, and shifting to free distribution.

Pretty soon it will have all the reach and influence of a nickel shopper. Which is only slightly less than its reach and influence now -- outside of Planet Wingnuttia, of course.

One can't help wonder if the Times' chief problem has been that its subscription base -- mostly Republican congressmen and their staffs -- keeps shrinking. Or if all those years of race-baiting under Wes Pruden and Robert Stacy McCain finally caught up to them. Or whether the paper's problem was that it sucked as an informational source because it was a propaganda sheet and everyone knew it. Not that its competition at the Post has performed so well in that regard, but the Times was singularly unreliable. No one read it because it wasn't credible.

In a difficult economic environment for media, sucking at what you're supposed to exist for is a recipe for disaster. And in the end, the Times just became a big cash drain on Rev. Moon's vast resources.

Eric Boehlert had a great piece about this:

At this time of reflection, it's worth pondering two rather astonishing facets about the Times and its bizarre life and looming death. The first is the deep irony of how the Times, a clarion voice of partisan right-wing values, was run as a charity for nearly three decades and whose business model made a mockery of the free-marketplace system supposedly cherished by conservatives. The second is the even deeper irony of how the Times was owned by a delusional prophet whose apocalyptic visions made an even bigger mockery of the Christian values supposedly cherished by conservative activists.

Indeed, the woeful Times has for decades stood at the center of a Beltway marriage-of-convenience for the ages, as conservatives nearly developed cataracts turning a collective blind eye to the glaringly obvious contradictions that Moon's worldview created with conservatives. (FYI, Moon proclaims to be more powerful than God, that Jesus was a failure, and that dictatorial rule is best. Hmm.....)

But we're wondering where Bill O'Reilly has been on this. He hasn't mentioned the gradual demise of the Washington Times on his show at all.

Back in January, when the Seattle P-I -- which had been run into the ground by the right-wing Hearst chain -- was failing, O'Reilly was eager to announce the news, because he saw it as a sign that these media-company failures were the product of Americans rejecting the "radical left":

The far left in America is on a rampage emboldened by the Democratic victory. They're attacking on all fronts, demanding gay marriage, a ban on harsh anti-terror tactics, and many other very liberal policies. But most Americans reject the left-wing extremists.

For example, the nutty-left Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper has announced it's going out of business unless someone buys the concern over the next few weeks. Not likely to happen.

Now, we've been harshly critical of that paper. Critical mass was reached when its publisher, Roger Oglesby, refused to cooperate with the FBI when agents trying to locate two men deemed acting suspiciously on a ferry.

"Factor" producer Jesse Watters confronted Oglesby over his and the paper's outlandish left-wing zealotry, and now it's clear that even in liberal Seattle, the folks want no part of the operation.

Well, as we noted then, the P-I had been right, and O'Reilly was wrong: He and his fellow right-wingers were just whipping up needless hysteria.

More to the point, the P-I failed not because it was a "radical left" operation -- it wasn't. It was simply the loser in a long-running battle with the Seattle Times, in a market that could no longer support two papers. It was a victim of the Bush Recession -- as was, ultimately, the Washington Times.

In contrast to the P-I, the Times never had an established or deep readership. It was, moreover, more obviously ideological; the P-I, O'Reilly's characterization notwithstanding, was doggedly middle-of-the-road. You can make a much better case that obvious bias killed the Times than you can the P-I. But in truth, both died at the hands of the changing media economy.

Still, you have to wonder if O'Reilly will come up with a new theory to cover this one. Lessee, the Washington Times died because it was secretly taken over by a cabal of liberals ...

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