The second most powerful editor at The WashingtonTimes is a white supremacist racist who says blacksare "born genetically 15 to 20 IQ points lower than awhite person" and that abortion isnecessary "to keep the black and minority populationdown in this country." His wife, Marian, confirmedthis, on the record, in an interview with reporter MaxBlumenthal for the Oct. 9 issue of The Nationmagazine.
Francis B. Coombs Jr., the managing editor of TheWashington Times, a major media ally of the Bushadministration, is described by multiple newsroomsources in Blumenthal's piece as an unreconstructed"racial nationalist" and a hater of blacks and Jews.
Following Blumenthal's cover story in The Nation(posted Sept. 20 on the magazine's Web site), Coombswrote a letter denouncing the supposed "mendacity" ofthe piece and categorically labeled its seriousallegations as false without explanation.
The serious problem with Coombs' line of defense isthat his wife, Marian Kester Coombs, confirmed hisracist white supremacist worldview in her ownon-the-record interview with Blumenthal.
Fran Coombs attacked Blumenthal for his story's"smear" of Marian, saying it was "beneath contempt."Yet the only reason Blumenthaldescribed Marian Coombs' white supremacist activitiesin detail wasbecause they confirmed her husband's own racist views.
Marian Coombs is a close friend of Jared Taylor,notorious white supremacist and founder of theneo-eugenicist group, AmericanRenaissance. She admitted in her Nation interview thatshe attended American Renaissance conferences to meetwith her old friend, Nick Griffin, leader of theneo-fascist whites-only British National Party (BNP).
Marian Coombs has written frequently for OccidentalQuarterly, an openly white supremacist andanti-Semitic publication. In one article, she wrotethe United States had become a "den of iniquity"because it allowed too many minority immigrants. Inanother piece, she criticized interracial marriage,stating: "white men should 'run, not walk' to wed'racially conscious' white women and avoid beingoutbred by non-whites."
On American Renaissance's Web site, she posted thiscomment in 2001: "Whites do not like crowdedsocieties, and Americans would not have to live incrowds if our government kept out Third-Worldinvaders."
Marian Coombs is a self-proclaimed "white nationalist"and avowed racist who writes for white supremacistmagazines and spends timehobnobbing with fascist leaders. Some may say, sowhat? The sins of the wife are not necessarily thesins of the husband. True. But when Max Blumenthalasked Marian Coombs whether her husband shared herpolitical and racial views, she said, "Pretty much" -while insisting that Fran Coombs' personal views werenot reflected in the pages of the Times.
Wrong. I know from many years' experience with thiscouple that this is not true. Just look at the paper'sslant on immigration coverage over the past severalyears. But why would the owners of The WashingtonTimes want a white supremacist and neo-eugenicist asits No. 2 editor, let alone possible successor tooutgoing Editor-in-Chief Wesley Pruden?
Fran Coombs attacked Blumenthal for my on-the-recorddisclosures and for using some Times reporters andlower-level editors who spoke for his Nation piece oncondition of anonymity. But his own wife confirmedpublicly, on tape and on the record, that Fran Coombsis a racist and white supremacist.
In conversations with Times senior reporters, editors,and corporateexecutives over the past several months, I was toldthat a report about the management and ideology ofFran Coombs was compiledand submitted in June 2006 to Dong Moon Joo, SouthKorean president of The Washington Times Corp. (whohas anglicized his name to Douglas M. Joo).
The report documented Fran Coombs' extensive racistcomments and abusive, unpopular management style.Several Times employees who attended a party at aTimes editor's home in spring 2003 were told by Coombsthat, "I would never want to be born black. This wouldmean that I would be born genetically 15 to 20 IQpoints lower than a white person."
At the party, Coombs repeatedly said he was"unequivocally for abortion ... since abortiondisproportionately impacts blacks andminorities, it helps to keep the black and minoritypopulation down in this country."
I personally heard Coombs express such racist commentsto me and others over the years when I was a seniornational reporter at The Times. Coombs claimed that henever said such things. Yet Blumenthal reported thatsuch statements attributed to Coombs were confirmed tohim by at least three other Times sources - all whosaid they personally heard Coombs laud abortion as ameans to stem the tide of black, brown, and Asianbabies.
Coombs also claimed that I, a former veteran reporternominated on four occasions by The Times for aPulitzer Prize for investigative journalism, was"virtually the only named source" in Blumenthal'spiece. This is false. Marlene Johnson, former Timesarts section editor was quoted as saying "what aracist Fran [Coombs] is."
Johnson recounted how she was given an order fromWesley Pruden, delivered to her by Coombs, to stopdoing "so many black stories." She also recounted howCoombs had protected and promoted Assistant NationalEditor Robert Stacy McCain, even though heis an "avowed segregationist."
But in Coombs' eyes, Marlene Johnson probably doesn'tcount as a genuine named source as she is anAfrican-American.
Yet if Coombs was interested in more named sourceswilling to testify to his virulent neo-Confederateracism and abusive and unpopular management style, heshould read a letter sent to The Nation by formerTimes assistant book section editor, Amanda KolsonHurley, in response to Blumenthal's piece andposted on his blog site:
"As a former (albeit short-lived) staffer at theWashington Times, I was eager to read Max Blumenthal'sexpose," Hurley wrote. "What I found was largely arehash of revelations about Fran Coombs'hateful, but well-known, views on race, along with afair summary of the struggle for the Times' soul.What's missing is a larger indictment of a newsroomculture that quashes real journalistic talent for thesake of an extremist ideology."
Hurley added: "Readers may get the impression thateditors like Coombs and Stacy McCain have handpicked astaff of right-wingcrazies to support their agenda -- but that's simplynot the case. Coombs and especially McCain, a virulentmisogynist, are reviled by most Times staffers, whowould like nothing more than to turn the crasspropaganda sheet into a respectable newspaper.
"One detail did give me a jolt: Blumenthal wrote thaton August 22, Coombs devoted page 1 to a positivereview of Pat Buchanan's anti-immigrant screed. Howtypical. In my brief tenure at the Times' Sunday bookssection, I remember being pre-empted again and againby McCain (presumably with Coombs' all-clear) placingfawning 'news' stories about right-wing books in themain section, despite the fact that said books hadalready been assigned to experts for objectivereview."
So there was myself, Marlene Johnson, Amanda Hurleyand 10 other current and former reporters and editorswho all said the same thing: Fran Coombs is governedby deeply racist views and is a highly unpopularmanaging editor, who has stifled the energies andskills of the Times newsroom.
For me, it was necessary to go on the record ingratitude for devoted service to The Times by so manywonderful reporters,writers, editors, photographers, and support staff -my colleagues over almost a quarter century. The twosenior editors under fire who have disparaged me withcharacter assassination have it completely wrong. Itis emblematic of the Christian faith always to upholdtruth, and for believers even to take on the role ofprophet against powerful opposition to tell the truth,not for personal material gain, but simply to upholdtruth and the faith.
I was surprised to find out how many Times stafferswere willing to talk to Blumenthal about the rampantracism and abusive management of Pruden and Coombs,the paper's top two editors, who are legendary fortheir spiteful vindictiveness and ruthlessness. Ittook a lot of courage for Times people to speak out.
In fact, nothing illustrated this better than thejoint reaction of Pruden and Coombs to The Nationpiece. Instead of honestly confronting the veryserious and credible allegations against them, theywere bent on savaging the reputations and careers ofpeople who spoke to Blumenthal, or they believed spoketo him -- with yours truly designated as public enemyNo. 1.
For example, Coombs maliciously asserted that I was a"disgruntled employee" who had become detached from"reality" and claimedthat I had "resigned under pressure from The Times inAugust 2005," after which he claimed I had "engaged inan increasingly vicious and fictitious cyber-campaignagainst The Washington Times and me in particular."
This is false. As Coombs well knows, I retired inSeptember 2005, not under pressure from the Times, butbecause I had anotherchallenge offered to me in Arizona. I had built up aconsiderable retirement nest egg which enabled me tobegin writing my memoir of my 20-plus years at theTimes, entitled "Journalism is War."
I also had an ailing mother dying of lung cancer totake care of. The notion that I somehow left the paper"under pressure" is complete fiction invented byCoombs in his attempt to manufacture a falseimpression that I had some kind of ulterior motive forspeaking out against the racist ideology and abusivemanagement of Coombs and Pruden.
I was able to speak truthfully when Blumenthal firstcalled last spring while reporting for his Nationarticle because I am financially secure and no longerdependent on a paycheck from the Times. Even if Coombsand Pruden had asked me to return to my old job atmyprevious salary, with just a handshake and no contractas before, I would have turned down their offer in aheartbeat. Why would I want to return to theirdistasteful bigotry and iron editorial grip?
Moreover, if I supposedly left under pressure, why didCoombs lavish praise upon me at a going-away luncheonon Sept. 2, 2005, attended by Virginia's retired Sen.Harry F. Byrd Jr., leading D.C.-area politicos, policyleaders, and journalists?
Coombs said in response to The Nation andFishbowlDC.com pieces that I was somehow detached from"reality." But why did Timessenior editors over the years, including Coombs andPruden, nominate me four times for the Pulitzer Prize?Why did Coombs and Kenneth Hanner, his dutifulsuccessor as national editor, consistently writelaudatory annual reviews of me during my 21-yeartenure at the paper?
Coombs has unfairly smeared my character, questionedmy mental stability, and now has lashed out at otherswho he believes spoke to Blumenthal. Many sources atthe paper tell me there are growing concerns thatCoombs, Pruden and Washington Times Corp. presidentJoo are preparing to retaliate against those whom theybelieve spoke. I assure them, however, that I shallkeep a vigilant eye on the next series of events atthe Times in order to help protect former colleagueswho have been sources in this unfolding story.
If Coombs, Pruden and Joo are really serious abouttrying to restore the credibility of the Times, whydon't they issue a legal document that offersprotection from being fired to any employee who wishesto reveal his identity? And why don't the paper'sowners come forward to ensure that no employee isbullied and intimidated?
Surely the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the paper's founder,cares about the people who work for The Times? Why hashe or his son, PrestonMoon, CEO of parent company News World Communicationswho has a Harvard MBA, not made a statement ensuringthey willaddress the situation? Why have they not comeforward at all? Is their silence a clear sign thatthey do not wish to defend senior editors whom theirown internal reports confirm are guilty of racistideology and abusive management?
There is even more evidence to confirm the veracity ofBlumenthal's story. Sources at the paper told me thatonce Joo was informed The Nation piece would appear,he immediately hired a law firm, Covington & Burling,to defend himself, Pruden, and Coombs. But onceCovington & Burling's attorneys conducted theirinitial internal investigation, they were so appalledand outraged that they refused to defend the Times andbe linked with the editors' racist ideology. Imagine:Even lawyers who defend almost anyone could notstomach the atmosphere at the Times. And my sourcesconfirmed that Joo was absolutely livid when rebuffedby the law firm.
The behavior of Coombs and Pruden has deterioratedfurther since The Nation piece emerged. Newsroomsources told me that Coombsand Pruden circulated an internal e-mail to reportersand editors mocking me as a deranged alcoholic. Mysources said Coombs vowed to "take a baseball bat toArchibald's head." The sources said their stance hasthe full knowledge and support of Joo.
"Joo, Pruden and Coombs are like cornered animalsright now," said a senior official at the paper. "Theyknow they've been exposed; they know they are despisedby most of the newsroom and corporate management. Butthey refuse to let go of power and are willing to doabsolutely anything to hang on."
However, I believe they are living on borrowed time.The question remains: How long must The WashingtonTimes continue to bleedin its public reputation and media credibility beforeCoombs and Pruden are replaced by a new regime ofeditors who will take the paper back to sensible,complete, and honest daily coverage of the news?
Only the owners know the answer, and whether they havethe sense in the face of published facts to cleanhouse sooner rather than later.
- George Archibald was the first reporter hired inearly 1982 by founders of The Washington Times in thenewspaper's pre-publication days. He went on to winfour Pulitzer Prize nominations from Times editors andawards from national and state newspaper associationsas a national investigative reporter for the paperover two decades. His forthcoming book, "Journalism isWar: Power Politics, Sexual Dalliance, and Corruptionin the Nation's Capital," tells stories behind thebreaking of his big-hit stories over a quarter centuryand is set to come out early next year.