Dispatches from the Creation Wars

AP Sanitizes Story on Rev. Moon

Remember the story last week about the Moonies poaching leopard sharks and getting caught? A diarist at DailyKos has documented how the AP scrubbed the story of a key element: Rev. Moon’s knowledge of the illegal activity. In the first version of the AP story, written by Marcus Wohlsen, they were explicit references to the sermon from one of Moon’s ministers where he talked about how Moon knew what they were doing and approved of it:

In a recording of a 2003 sermon, Thompson unabashedly told his congregation just how far he believed that dominion extended, boasting that members of what he called the “Ocean Church” had spent more than a decade catching and selling baby leopard sharks to pet stores.

“We want the smaller the better,” Thompson said.

Thompson bragged that a fellow church member had one day discovered a leopard shark pupping ground in mud flats along the bay and had returned with more than 100 baby sharks. He said pet stores would pay $20 per shark and sell them for home aquariums for $75 each.

Moon himself became excited when he learned about the shark-catching operation, Thompson claimed in the sermon.

“He told me, you know you need 20 boats out there fishing,” Thompson said. “He had this big plan drawn out.”

Thompson is the pastor of Moon’s Bay Area Family Church and the man convicted of running the operation. In the later version of the AP story, written by the same reporter, all mention of this sermon is gone and only this statement from the church remains:

The church was not aware Thompson was engaged in illegal activity and does not condone such conduct, Rev. Michael Jenkins, president of the Unification Church of America, said in a statement.

Now the question is, why would the AP make such a change? It’s not as though there is any lack of evidence; you can hear the sermon for yourself. And AP certainly shouldn’t have any desire to exonerate Moon; after all, he owns their primary competitor, UPI. If anything, you would think they’d love to stick it to him. Curiouser and curiouser.


  1. #1 dhodge
    February 14, 2007

    I heard this story on NPR a couple days ago and was surprised to hear no mention of Moon whatsoever (if memory serves). Near the end of the piece, they mentioned in passing that the Ocean Church is affiliated with the Unification Church, but that was it.

  2. #2 Dave S.
    February 14, 2007

    Could it be they were threatened with a big lawsuit and figured discretion was the better part of valour? And by ‘discretion’ I mean wussing out.

  3. #3 stogoe
    February 14, 2007

    Par for the course. Journamalists who are in bed with rich fascists change a damning story.

  4. #4 Sean
    February 14, 2007

    But that’s the strange thing. These journalists are not in bed with a rich fascist, at least not the rich fascist who was mentioned in the damning version.

    Unless all journalists are part of a unified conspiracy not to expose the misdeeds of any rich fascist. That I find about as credible as the fundie claims that all scientists are in on their own conspiracy.

  5. #5 M
    February 14, 2007

    The original AP piece has Moon clearly being told about the operation. After listening to the audio they might claim – though I would not believe them because the preacher in the sermon says “no no no” to Moon when he wanted to use “20 boats” – but they might claim that Moon didn’t know it was illegal. But oddly, not only does AP scrub the mention of the sermon, they add a whole new line from Shanker, a line which would be laughed at openly by any editor or reader had they included the quote from the sermon.

    Moon didn’t know about Thompson’s operation, said the Rev. Phillip Schanker, a spokesman for the church.

    Moon sure as hell knew about the “operation.”

    My guess is the moonies lobbied AP – fed them full of BS or threats of lawsuits – I think the Moon preacher used Moon’s lawyers, btw.

    NPR covered for Moon also. They played part of the audio of the sermon and did not mention the part about Moon. Clearly covering for him.

    This quote form NPR is so moonie. Moon claims anything he does wrong is God’s will. He says when all is said and done, God will look back and realize Moon is greater than He(God).

    But this quote…amazing this organization spend billions in overseas cash molding the nation’s politics and no one says diddly.


    “…according to investigators, some of these poachers asked their preacher whether they were doing the right thing. He responded, allegedly, that the poaching was God’s will.”

  6. #6 M
    February 14, 2007

    But that’s the strange thing. These journalists are not in bed with a rich fascist, at least not the rich fascist who was mentioned in the damning version.

    I rarely think the reporter has anything to do with it. The editors and the moonie spin artists affect what people put out about Moon. Moon owns the biggest and best production facilities for TV in Washington, they all use him from what I understand. NBC reported that in 1990.

    I watched the Moon org for years play games with the simple statement that Moon believes he is THE messiah. His spinners, based on the audience, go into high gear on that one — “oh, no he is just an ‘anointed one’… blah blah blah”, but every member knows damn good and well they believe, as Moon does, that he is THE the Lord of the Second Advent, THE Messiah.

    When the black preachers first read in the paper that Moon had declared that he was THE messiah – some of the black ministers were going to quit Moon’s ACLC because they didn’t know he believed he was THE messiah. Moon had to print it in 40 papers for them to get the message.

New comments have been disabled.