Arnaud de Borchgrave

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Arnaud de Borchgrave (26 October 1926 – 15 February 2015) was an American journalist who specialized in international politics. Following a long career with the magazine Newsweek, he held key editorial and executive positions with media organizations associated with the Unification Church, including The Washington Times and United Press International. Harry F. Kern (1911-1996) was credited with hiring him while at Newsweek.[1]

Early life[edit]

Born in Belgium to Audrey Dorothy Louise Townshend, daughter of Major General Sir Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend,[2] and Belgian Count Baudouin de Borchgrave d'Altena, head of Belgium's military intelligence for the government-in-exile during World War II, de Borchgrave was educated in Belgium, Britain and the United States. As Belgium fell to the Nazi invasion, he and his family escaped via freighter only by being rescued by a British destroyer, after the freighter's captain had attempted to divert to Hamburg. He served in the British Royal Navy (1942–1946), from the age of 15, after running away from home, convincing his grandmother to assist in falsifying his age so he could enlist.[3] He gave up his title of nobility in 1951.[4]

Newsweek career[edit]

In 1947, de Borchgrrave was appointed Brussels bureau manager for United Press, and, in 1950, later he became Newsweek's bureau chief in Paris and then its chief correspondent. In 1953, he became a senior editor for the magazine. Osborn Elliott, former editor-in-chief of Newsweek, once said:


As a correspondent for Newsweek, de Borchgrave secured numerous interviews with world leaders. In 1969, he interviewed both President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol of Israel. In October 1972, during the Vietnam War, he was accorded his most famous interview, travelling to Hanoi to speak with Prime Minister and Politburo member Pham Van Dong of North Vietnam. In that interview, Dong described a provision of a proposed peace deal as a "coalition of transition," which raised fears with South Vietnam that the deal involved a coalition government, possibly playing a role in South Vietnam's rejection of the deal.

Later life[edit]

Appointed editor-in-chief for The Washington Times on 20 March 1985, de Borchgrave also later served as CEO of a much-diminished United Press International, the successor to his early-career employer, in the late 1990s, during the latter part of the agency's ownership by a group of Saudi investors. In that role, de Borchgrave orchestrated UPI's exit from its last major media niche, the broadcast news business that United Press had initiated in the 1930s. De Borchgrave maintained that "what was brilliant pioneering work on the part of UPI prior to World War II, with radio news, is now a static quantity and so far as I'm concerned, certainly doesn't fit into my plans for the future." He sought to shift UPI's dwindling resources into Internet-based delivery of newsletter services, focusing more on technical and diplomatic specialties than on general news. The rump UPI thus sold their client list of its still-significant radio network and broadcast wire to its former rival, the AP.[7]

The following year, de Borchgrave played a key role in the sale of the further downsized UPI to News World Communications, the international news media company founded in 1976 by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon, who was also the founder of The Washington Times for which de Borchgrave had worked earlier.

After his CEO turn at UPI, de Borchgrave retained associations with both Unification Church media outlets, as "Editor-at-Large" of The Washington Times and UPI, writing regular columns published by either or both. He also served as Project Director for Transnational Threats (TNT) and Senior Advisor for The Center for Strategic and International Studies.[8][9] He was a contributor to The Globalist, a daily online magazine.[10]

According to Morley Safer's "Flashbacks", Borchgrave testified before Senator Jeremiah Denton's subcommittee in 1981 that Pham Xuan An, a Time employee and Viet Cong spy based in Saigon, "was an agent whose mission was to disinform the Western press". An denied to Safer that he planted disinformation, saying that his Viet Cong bosses thought it would be too obvious and that they preferred he feed them information instead.[11]

Arnaud de Borchgrave interviewed many head of states, head of governments, monarchies, and key figures of the world, including his most famous one when he interviewed Mullah Omar along with UPI International Consultant Ammar Turabi, three months before 9/11. This interview offered a lot of insight to the decision and policy makers globally. The interview, being the most renowned, was published in different print media multiple times since 2001. UPI considers it as one of its best achievements, hence incorporated in UPI's 100 Years Of Excellence. This is the only interview of Mullah Omar conducted and published in existence.[12]

Personal life[edit]

De Borchgrave is co-author, with Robert Moss, of the best-selling novel The Spike (1980). He was also a pundit for NewsMax for whom sporadically penned articles.[13] He married his wife, Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave, daughter of ambassador and author Henry Serrano Villard, in 1969, following two earlier marriages.[14] Alexandra Villard is also a published author, including a biography of her great-grandfather, the railroad tycoon Henry Villard.[15] De Borchgrave died of bladder cancer in Washington, D.C. on February 15, 2015 at the age of 88.[16]

Plagiarism allegations[edit]

On 17 May 2012, Erik Wemple, a blogger for The Washington Post, noted that de Borchgrave's columns in The Washington Times reflected his think tank work and raised questions about the originality of some of his writing, citing similarities between elements of de Borchgrave columns and other published material. Wemple included de Borchgrave's explanations for those but also the doubts expressed about the similarities by some of the other organizations involved.[17] Elsewhere, the news website Salon reported that anonymous Times officials claimed that the paper had known about de Borchgrave's plagiarism nearly a year before Wemple's investigation and initially discontinued de Borchgrave's column before resuming it without any disciplinary action.

De Borchgrave denied the allegations and claimed that his column was suspended because he was on book leave.[18] The Washington Times then announced that de Borchgrave would take a hiatus to complete work on his memoirs while the paper conducted an inquiry into his work.[19] Some of de Borchgrave's recent columns were later removed from the Washington Times website.[20] The Center for Strategic and International Studies also announced its own investigation of work de Borchgrave had published under its name.[21]


  1. ^ The Washington Times Harry F. Kern, 84, Covered Foreign Affairs May 16, 1996
  2. ^ Accessed 8 September 2011.
  3. ^ "Arnaud de Borchgrave, Journalist Whose Life Was a Tale Itself, Dies at 88". New York Times. 16 Feb 2015. 
  4. ^ "The Foreign Correspondent". Washington Post. 13 May 1980. 
  5. ^ [1] All American Speakers biography
  6. ^ [2] CSIS Press Release
  7. ^ "UPI Radio: 40 Years Of Sound". Radio World. IMAS Publishing. 1999. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  8. ^ C-SPAN Washington Journal 11 June 2007 Archived 27 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Biography
  10. ^ Author Biography, The Globalist, retrieved 3 May 2012 
  11. ^ Flashbacks, Morley Safer, 1990, St Martin's Press/Random House 1991
  12. ^
  13. ^ NewsMax Pundits
  14. ^ "Alexandra Villard Married to Editor". The New York Times. 11 May 1969. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Washington Times columnist: Originality deficit?". Erik Wemple. Washington Post. 2012. Retrieved May 17, 2012. 
  18. ^ Coverup at Washington Times, Salon, 17 May 2012
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^

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