Mogul Rupert Murdoch never shies away from publicity, while billionaire Philip Anschutz avoids it like the plague. What's bringing these two tycoons together is The Weekly Standard.
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Murdoch is in talks to unload the conservative magazine to Anschutz, who like Murdoch supports conservative political causes. The Weekly Standard, which has a tiny circulation of under 90,000, fits better with Anschutz's empire than Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS). A message left with an assistant to Weekly Standard editor William Kristol was not immediately returned.
Anschutz seems to harbor Citizen Kane-line dreams. The reclusive Denver resident , whose vast holdings include the L.A. Galaxy soccer team which brought soccer superstar David Beckham to the U.S., purchased the San Francisco Examiner in 2004. He also trademarked the name "Examiner" in 60 cities. The expansion plans have not worked out as planned. The Washington Examiner continues to publish though the Baltimore Examiner shut down in 2006. Examiner.com tauts itself as the "source for everything that's local."
Murdoch's dreams of media dominance have largely been fulfilled through the acquisition of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co. As the LA Times argues -- correctly in my view -- Murdoch "may no longer really need The Weekly Standard" which reaches the same audience as the Journal albeit on a much smaller scale. Murdoch also may be trimming his print holdings, which Wall Street has considered News Corp.'s Achilles heal. Many of the print properties, including The Weekly Standard and the New York Post, are reportedly money losers or at best marginally profitable.
Investors would be tickled if The Weekly Standard sale is a sign that News Corp. has soured on the slow-growing print sector. Shares of New York-based News Corp are down more than 34 percent over the past year, even with the recent run-up in the stock market.
Murdoch unloading The Weekly Standard