Investigating Moon's 'conglomerate'


January 21, 1992|By Steve McKerrow

Any devotee of the sleuthing genre knows that two questions drive every investigation: money and motive? But both remain somewhat elusive in tonight's latest edition of the PBS investigative series "Frontline" (at 9 on Maryland Public Television).

"The Resurrection of Reverend Moon" demonstrates pretty clearly that the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, jailed in the early 1980s on tax charges, has since assembled a politically influential range of organizations in the United States.

The Unification Church he heads, "once labeled a cult, is now more accurately described as a conglomerate," asserts the show.

Among the most visible outlets of Moon's influence is the Washington Times newspaper, and the show persuades, with interviews with former editors, that its claimed editorial independence from Moon's agenda is pretty suspect.

Also apparent is that a conservative political organization heavily involved in last year's support rallies for the Persian Gulf war, the American Freedom Coalition, is tied to and heavily funded by Moon.

We see organizers of a gulf rally, for example, expressing irritation that the group which helped them was apparently not the good old American patriotic organization they thought it was.

Further, some good questions are raised about why the U.S. Justice Department is not investigating certain Moon-connected enterprises, including the Washington Times, as potential violators of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Frontline reporter Eric Nadler is stonewalled with no comments and security guards everywhere he goes, from the White House (where a Moon pardon application is still pending) on down.

But it is not until late in the half-hour that the program asks, "where does all the money come from?"

It suggests, but does not really manage to document, that the source is a Japanese businessman once allied with Mussolini, Ryoichi Sasakawa.

And in the end, the viewer may be left wondering, "OK, so what's the motive here?" Clearly, there is a conservative political viewpoint being projected forcefully by someone who is not an American. But why?

The only answer is ambiguous, as we see a clip of Moon asserting, from a video produced after his release from prison, "at least I have America's attention."


THE POE MYSTERY -- That was a nice long piece which "CBS This Morning" did live from Baltimore yesterday, as host Paula Zahn interviewed Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe Museum, on the annual birthday visit Sunday to Edgar Allan Poe's grave by a mysterious figure dressed in black.

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