Billionaire Anschutz to Buy Murdoch's Weekly Standard

The Weekly Standard is about to be purchased by the media giant that started the Washington Examiner.

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By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

The news industry might stink for many in the old media, but Philip Anschutz, new to news publishing with his Examiner newspapers in Washington and San Francisco, sees a good opening. And Whispers confirms that he's about to take it, buying Rupert Murdoch's popular center-right Weekly Standard.

Says an insider: "Anschutz apparently wants to take the Standard off Murdoch's hands, and Murdoch is agreeable."

The pending purchase—we hear the deal hasn't been inked yet—was first reported by the Los Angeles Times. It's a natural fit for the Denver mogul's budding Clarity Media Group. His Washington Examiner, for example, has been hiring conservative editorial writers and columnists like former U.S. News columnist Michael Barone and National Review's Byron York. It runs generally conservative editorials on Page Two of the newsy tabloid. Those and other hirings have made it part of the Washington political buzz, something that would most likely increase if teamed with the Weekly Standard, edited by William Kristol and Fred Barnes.

Often described as a humble man, Anschutz is said to be interested in having a voice in Washington public affairs. His is a conservative one but not right wing, say insiders. And should he seize the Weekly Standard, insiders do not suspect a major staff change, though he is likely to invest more in it. Allies say that he prefers to make contrarian purchases and then leave the day-to-day operation of those up to his managers.

We also hear that the Weekly Standard staff discussed the sale and its impact at an 11 a.m. meeting today. Word is that the staff were told the sale is imminent, though not set in stone and that Clarity bosses wouldn't be making any major changes when and if they take over.

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Corrected on : Updated on 6/10/09