By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
The turmoil at the Washington Times, long the city's conservative voice, is heightening this week over an ownership squabble and a legal fight with a former editorial page editor who Whispers reveals was having his wages garnished by his former book publisher.
Richard Miniter, the ousted editor, made headlines this week claiming that he was "coerced" into attending a Unification Church mass wedding conducted by church's leader, Rev. Sun Myung Moon. He also claimed age discrimination—he's 42—and has said that the Times didn't want to pay his high salary. His complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was reported first by Talking Points Memo.
His lawyer, Larry Klayman, hoped the EEOC complaint would lead to a deal, but he says that hasn't happened and tomorrow he plans to step up his legal attack on the newspaper. "You ain't seen nothing yet," he says.
This isn't Miniter's first legal tussle with a publisher. Whispers learns that he recently lost a case with his book publisher, Regnery Publishing Inc., and was having his Times biweekly wages garnished. Under the court order, he was paying $1,325.08 out of each paycheck as he worked off a $159,428.28 judgment.
According to documents in U.S. District Court case No. 08-709, Regnery paid the New York Times bestselling author $238,333 in advance royalties for two books. The first payment was for Disinformation . He was to get another $116,667 when the manuscript of his second book was delivered. But the two got in a fight over the second book, and it was never written. Miniter suggested a book titled Hunting Zarqawi and said he'd need $96,206 to research it. Regnery balked, and the arbitrator agreed that Regnery wasn't required to pay anything before receiving the manuscript of the second book. The federal court ordered his wages garnished beginning in March.
Of course, now Miniter isn't being paid, the result of his ouster, and it is unclear how the judgment would continue if the Times makes a deal.
Miniter is also involved in another case with Eagle Publishing Inc., in which he and others claim they weren't paid proper royalties.
As for the Times, insiders say they are worried about the paper's fate. Several top officials were recently fired, and editor John Solomon quit in what is being viewed as a family feud between Moon and his son, Preston, who controls the paper.