Friends of The Washington Times will gather Tuesday to celebrate 30 years of faith, family and freedom in the nation’s capital. A glance through the paper’s headlines over the decades is a testament to how The Washington Times has remained true to its mission.
It’s no secret that early on, The Washington Times became a daily read for President Ronald Reagan. The Gipper’s fondness was so legendary that he couldn’t help but slip in a mention of his favored paper while speaking at an anniversary celebration for USA Today. Reagan described an airliner that cruised low along the Potomac, buzzing past that company’s high-rise Rosslyn headquarters when it first opened for business. USA Today’s editorial staff was understandably alarmed. “And what was really frightening,” added Reagan, “was that those in the meeting were able to see through the windows of the plane as it went by and the passengers were reading The Washington Times.”
What Reagan admired was the commitment to journalism encapsulated on the front page of the May 17, 1982 inaugural issue. “The Washington Times will be above all a striving newspaper,” read the statement of principles. “By that, we mean that it will strive to tell the truth, to the best of our lights and abilities. It will strive to be fair, and it will strive, in the measure that will and nerve sustain us, to be a fearless newspaper.” These ideas continue to guide the effort today.
A fearless paper reports the facts, regardless of whether the powerful become upset. In the early 1990s, that meant investigative reporting that uncovered the House banking scandal, implicating 303 members of Congress who made interest-free loans to themselves through an abuse of the congressional bank’s policies. The scandal weakened heavy-hitters, including then-Speaker Thomas S. Foley, Washington Democrat, who later fell to an upstart challenger in the 1994 elections.
Mr. Foley handed the gavel to a Georgia Republican named Newt Gingrich, breaking the Democrats’ four-decade lock on the lower chamber. The Washington Times was there for the Contract with America, the partial government shutdowns and Congress’ many other battles with President Bill Clinton. Of course, throughout the many scandals that culminated in Mr. Clinton’s impeachment, The Washington Times was the go-to paper for coverage.
America may have changed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, but the need for telling the truth has only grown stronger. The Washington Times’ Opinion pages have served as a refuge for those thirsting for a clear, concise conservative alternative to the current administration’s policy pronouncements. As the 1982 statement of principles put it, this is a timeless “conservatism we believe as relevant and vital to the solution of man’s problems today as it was in the mind and struggles of Edmund Burke two centuries ago.”
In the years to come, America’s newspaper will continue striving to live by its founding principles.
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By Andrew P. Napolitano
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