The second most powerful editor at The Washington
Times is a white supremacist racist who says blacks
are "born genetically 15 to 20 IQ points lower than a
white person" and that abortion is
necessary "to keep the black and minority population
down in this country." His wife, Marian, confirmed
this, on the record, in an interview with reporter Max
Blumenthal for the Oct. 9 issue of The Nation
Francis B. Coombs Jr., the managing editor of The
Washington Times, a major media ally of the Bush
administration, is described by multiple newsroom
sources 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), Coombs
wrote a letter denouncing the supposed "mendacity" of
the piece and categorically labeled its serious
allegations as false without explanation.
The serious problem with Coombs' line of defense is
that his wife, Marian Kester Coombs, confirmed his
racist white supremacist worldview in her own
on-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 Blumenthal
described Marian Coombs' white supremacist activities
in detail was
because they confirmed her husband's own racist views.
Marian Coombs is a close friend of Jared Taylor,
notorious white supremacist and founder of the
neo-eugenicist group, American
Renaissance. She admitted in her Nation interview that
she attended American Renaissance conferences to meet
with her old friend, Nick Griffin, leader of the
neo-fascist whites-only British National Party (BNP).
Marian Coombs has written frequently for Occidental
Quarterly, an openly white supremacist and
anti-Semitic publication. In one article, she wrote
the United States had become a "den of iniquity"
because it allowed too many minority immigrants. In
another piece, she criticized interracial marriage,
stating: "white men should 'run, not walk' to wed
'racially conscious' white women and avoid being
outbred by non-whites."
On American Renaissance's Web site, she posted this
comment in 2001: "Whites do not like crowded
societies, and Americans would not have to live in
crowds if our government kept out Third-World
Marian Coombs is a self-proclaimed "white nationalist"
and avowed racist who writes for white supremacist
magazines and spends time
hobnobbing with fascist leaders. Some may say, so
what? The sins of the wife are not necessarily the
sins of the husband. True. But when Max Blumenthal
asked Marian Coombs whether her husband shared her
political and racial views, she said, "Pretty much" -
while insisting that Fran Coombs' personal views were
not reflected in the pages of the Times.
Wrong. I know from many years' experience with this
couple that this is not true. Just look at the paper's
slant on immigration coverage over the past several
years. But why would the owners of The Washington
Times want a white supremacist and neo-eugenicist as
its No. 2 editor, let alone possible successor to
outgoing Editor-in-Chief Wesley Pruden?
Fran Coombs attacked Blumenthal for my on-the-record
disclosures and for using some Times reporters and
lower-level editors who spoke for his Nation piece on
condition of anonymity. But his own wife confirmed
publicly, on tape and on the record, that Fran Coombs
is a racist and white supremacist.
In conversations with Times senior reporters, editors,
executives over the past several months, I was told
that a report about the management and ideology of
Fran Coombs was compiled
and submitted in June 2006 to Dong Moon Joo, South
Korean president of The Washington Times Corp. (who
has anglicized his name to Douglas M. Joo).
The report documented Fran Coombs' extensive racist
comments and abusive, unpopular management style.
Several Times employees who attended a party at a
Times editor's home in spring 2003 were told by Coombs
that, "I would never want to be born black. This would
mean that I would be born genetically 15 to 20 IQ
points lower than a white person."
At the party, Coombs repeatedly said he was
"unequivocally for abortion ... since abortion
disproportionately impacts blacks and
minorities, it helps to keep the black and minority
population down in this country."
I personally heard Coombs express such racist comments
to me and others over the years when I was a senior
national reporter at The Times. Coombs claimed that he
never said such things. Yet Blumenthal reported that
such statements attributed to Coombs were confirmed to
him by at least three other Times sources - all who
said they personally heard Coombs laud abortion as a
means to stem the tide of black, brown, and Asian
Coombs also claimed that I, a former veteran reporter
nominated on four occasions by The Times for a
Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism, was
"virtually the only named source" in Blumenthal's
piece. This is false. Marlene Johnson, former Times
arts section editor was quoted as saying "what a
racist Fran [Coombs] is."
Johnson recounted how she was given an order from
Wesley Pruden, delivered to her by Coombs, to stop
doing "so many black stories." She also recounted how
Coombs had protected and promoted Assistant National
Editor Robert Stacy McCain, even though he
is an "avowed segregationist."
But in Coombs' eyes, Marlene Johnson probably doesn't
count as a genuine named source as she is an
Yet if Coombs was interested in more named sources
willing to testify to his virulent neo-Confederate
racism and abusive and unpopular management style, he
should read a letter sent to The Nation by former
Times assistant book section editor, Amanda Kolson
Hurley, in response to Blumenthal's piece and
posted on his blog site:
"As a former (albeit short-lived) staffer at the
Washington Times, I was eager to read Max Blumenthal's
expose," Hurley wrote. "What I found was largely a
rehash of revelations about Fran Coombs'
hateful, but well-known, views on race, along with a
fair summary of the struggle for the Times' soul.
What's missing is a larger indictment of a newsroom
culture that quashes real journalistic talent for the
sake of an extremist ideology."
Hurley added: "Readers may get the impression that
editors like Coombs and Stacy McCain have handpicked a
staff of right-wing
crazies to support their agenda -- but that's simply
not the case. Coombs and especially McCain, a virulent
misogynist, are reviled by most Times staffers, who
would like nothing more than to turn the crass
propaganda sheet into a respectable newspaper.
"One detail did give me a jolt: Blumenthal wrote that
on August 22, Coombs devoted page 1 to a positive
review of Pat Buchanan's anti-immigrant screed. How
typical. In my brief tenure at the Times' Sunday books
section, I remember being pre-empted again and again
by McCain (presumably with Coombs' all-clear) placing
fawning 'news' stories about right-wing books in the
main section, despite the fact that said books had
already been assigned to experts for objective
So there was myself, Marlene Johnson, Amanda Hurley
and 10 other current and former reporters and editors
who all said the same thing: Fran Coombs is governed
by deeply racist views and is a highly unpopular
managing editor, who has stifled the energies and
skills of the Times newsroom.
For me, it was necessary to go on the record in
gratitude for devoted service to The Times by so many
writers, editors, photographers, and support staff -
my colleagues over almost a quarter century. The two
senior editors under fire who have disparaged me with
character assassination have it completely wrong. It
is emblematic of the Christian faith always to uphold
truth, and for believers even to take on the role of
prophet against powerful opposition to tell the truth,
not for personal material gain, but simply to uphold
truth and the faith.
I was surprised to find out how many Times staffers
were willing to talk to Blumenthal about the rampant
racism and abusive management of Pruden and Coombs,
the paper's top two editors, who are legendary for
their spiteful vindictiveness and ruthlessness. It
took a lot of courage for Times people to speak out.
In fact, nothing illustrated this better than the
joint reaction of Pruden and Coombs to The Nation
piece. Instead of honestly confronting the very
serious and credible allegations against them, they
were bent on savaging the reputations and careers of
people who spoke to Blumenthal, or they believed spoke
to him -- with yours truly designated as public enemy
For example, Coombs maliciously asserted that I was a
"disgruntled employee" who had become detached from
"reality" and claimed
that I had "resigned under pressure from The Times in
August 2005," after which he claimed I had "engaged in
an increasingly vicious and fictitious cyber-campaign
against The Washington Times and me in particular."
This is false. As Coombs well knows, I retired in
September 2005, not under pressure from the Times, but
because I had another
challenge offered to me in Arizona. I had built up a
considerable retirement nest egg which enabled me to
begin writing my memoir of my 20-plus years at the
Times, entitled "Journalism is War."
I also had an ailing mother dying of lung cancer to
take care of. The notion that I somehow left the paper
"under pressure" is complete fiction invented by
Coombs in his attempt to manufacture a false
impression that I had some kind of ulterior motive for
speaking out against the racist ideology and abusive
management of Coombs and Pruden.
I was able to speak truthfully when Blumenthal first
called last spring while reporting for his Nation
article because I am financially secure and no longer
dependent on a paycheck from the Times. Even if Coombs
and Pruden had asked me to return to my old job atmy
previous salary, with just a handshake and no contract
as before, I would have turned down their offer in a
heartbeat. Why would I want to return to their
distasteful bigotry and iron editorial grip?
Moreover, if I supposedly left under pressure, why did
Coombs lavish praise upon me at a going-away luncheon
on Sept. 2, 2005, attended by Virginia's retired Sen.
Harry F. Byrd Jr., leading D.C.-area politicos, policy
leaders, and journalists?
Coombs said in response to The Nation and
FishbowlDC.com pieces that I was somehow detached from
"reality." But why did Times
senior editors over the years, including Coombs and
Pruden, nominate me four times for the Pulitzer Prize?
Why did Coombs and Kenneth Hanner, his dutiful
successor as national editor, consistently write
laudatory annual reviews of me during my 21-year
tenure at the paper?
Coombs has unfairly smeared my character, questioned
my mental stability, and now has lashed out at others
who he believes spoke to Blumenthal. Many sources at
the paper tell me there are growing concerns that
Coombs, Pruden and Washington Times Corp. president
Joo are preparing to retaliate against those whom they
believe spoke. I assure them, however, that I shall
keep a vigilant eye on the next series of events at
the Times in order to help protect former colleagues
who have been sources in this unfolding story.
If Coombs, Pruden and Joo are really serious about
trying to restore the credibility of the Times, why
don't they issue a legal document that offers
protection from being fired to any employee who wishes
to reveal his identity? And why don't the paper's
owners come forward to ensure that no employee is
bullied and intimidated?
Surely the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the paper's founder,
cares about the people who work for The Times? Why has
he or his son, Preston
Moon, CEO of parent company News World Communications
who has a Harvard MBA, not made a statement ensuring
they willaddress the situation? Why have they not come
forward at all? Is their silence a clear sign that
they do not wish to defend senior editors whom their
own internal reports confirm are guilty of racist
ideology and abusive management?
There is even more evidence to confirm the veracity of
Blumenthal's story. Sources at the paper told me that
once Joo was informed The Nation piece would appear,
he immediately hired a law firm, Covington & Burling,
to defend himself, Pruden, and Coombs. But once
Covington & Burling's attorneys conducted their
initial internal investigation, they were so appalled
and outraged that they refused to defend the Times and
be linked with the editors' racist ideology. Imagine:
Even lawyers who defend almost anyone could not
stomach the atmosphere at the Times. And my sources
confirmed that Joo was absolutely livid when rebuffed
by the law firm.
The behavior of Coombs and Pruden has deteriorated
further since The Nation piece emerged. Newsroom
sources told me that Coombs
and Pruden circulated an internal e-mail to reporters
and editors mocking me as a deranged alcoholic. My
sources said Coombs vowed to "take a baseball bat to
Archibald's head." The sources said their stance has
the full knowledge and support of Joo.
"Joo, Pruden and Coombs are like cornered animals
right now," said a senior official at the paper. "They
know they've been exposed; they know they are despised
by most of the newsroom and corporate management. But
they refuse to let go of power and are willing to do
absolutely anything to hang on."
However, I believe they are living on borrowed time.
The question remains: How long must The Washington
Times continue to bleed
in its public reputation and media credibility before
Coombs and Pruden are replaced by a new regime of
editors 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 have
the sense in the face of published facts to clean
house sooner rather than later.
- George Archibald was the first reporter hired in
early 1982 by founders of The Washington Times in the
newspaper's pre-publication days. He went on to win
four Pulitzer Prize nominations from Times editors and
awards from national and state newspaper associations
as a national investigative reporter for the paper
over two decades. His forthcoming book, "Journalism is
War: Power Politics, Sexual Dalliance, and Corruption
in the Nation's Capital," tells stories behind the
breaking of his big-hit stories over a quarter century
and is set to come out early next year.