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View Diary: Interview with Author John Gorenfeld (218 comments)

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  •  It is, but... (6+ / 0-)

    there needs to be a structure and a leadership set up to take over and run things.  And in particular, they would need to keep attracting recruits or otherwise the money dries up.

    The most likely scenario is that one of his kids tries to take over the whole thing - he has lots of kids according to Wikipedia, but some of them anyways are really messed up.  It sounded like they were grooming the eldest son to take over, but he died about two weeks ago of a heart attack, so that leaves things really up in the air.

    •  The succession (8+ / 0-)

      Well, it's complicated. The son who died, used to be on track to inherit the Moonies.

      But he just couldn't handle the pressure, and he became a wife-beating embarrassment to the church (his battered spouse wrote a wonderful book, In The Shadow Of The Moons, about her experience being imported at age 15 to be this guy's wife.)

      The current heir is Preston Moon, who comes across as an aggressive businessman, not a cult leader. I saw him speak in the Bay Area, and he wasn't speaking in mystical riddles, unlike his mom, the True Mother. He kept saying, "Give yourself a hand!"

      There's this sense that the Moon kids (including Kat Moon, who was on the reality show Survival of the Richest) are sort of cynical about it all, like "Oh, that's Dad's religion thing." In theory they could just juice the empire for its money and get out.

      On the other hand, there's plenty of operating machinery left in the organization. They've built this thing called the Universal Peace Federation that has built up a leadership structure spanning many countries. And if they want to continue gaining influence and cash by publishing a Washington newspaper, and by being able to brag to potential business partners about D.C. connections, then it will probably continue on as before.

      •  Ahh, yes... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        johngorenfeld, Alice Venturi, yaddab

        Take the Washington Times, for example - my impression is that they have been running it at a loss so that they can advance their political agenda (and Wikipedia suggests that this is the case).  Some other parts of the Moon empire are evidently subsidizing it.

        The times was co-founded in 1982 by Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon and one of his main assistants Bo Hi Pak.[3] The Washington Times has never been profitable and since its inception at least $3 billion in perennial operating losses have been subsidized by News World Communications, Inc., which was described by the Columbia Journalism Review as "the media arm of Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church."[4]

        Now if the kids take over, and they don't care about the religion or the politics, that doesn't make sense any more.  The Washington Times would need to stand on it's own, and pay for itself with both advertising and subscription fees.  Either that or the Moon empire would sell it to some other businessman of some sort, but ultimately being a business it would still need to  pay its own way.

        Wikipedia says that it only has a circulation of 102,000, and says that the WaPo has a circulation of about 700,000.  Thus advertising revenues are going to be a small fraction of what the Post can pull in.  Newsstand price is only 25 cents, but the WaPo is up to 50 cents now.  Thus my gut says that unless some conservative nut is willing to pony up lots of cash to subsidize this thing, I suspect the Times will go into a death spiral once the financial spigot gets shut off.

        •  The Times is like a $3 billion political ad (4+ / 0-)

          Yeah, I see one scenario in which the Times could become a casualty of the conservative crackup.

          But even if the Moon kids don't have their father's messianic agenda, they might still reach the conclusion that the millions for the Times will be made up in prestige around the world, and the deals that it helps them make.

          In the 1990s, for example, it was George H.W. Bush's gratitude for the Washington Times that helped them snag him on an international speaking tour. He helped them out of a jam in Japan, where their $400 million-a-year fundraising machine was in jeopardy due to popular sentiment following the Aum Supreme Truth subway gas attacks of 1995. Now the money's still flowing.

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