News Corp. in talks to unload Weekly Standard to Anschutz


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News Corp. is near a deal to sell its right-wing political magazine, the Weekly Standard, to conservative media mogul Philip Anschutz, according to people familiar with the situation.

Launched in 1995 and edited by William Kristol and Fred Barnes, the Weekly Standard has been a pet political project for News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch. While its circulation, according to the magazine’s website is only 83,000 (it hasn’t been audited by the Audit Bureau of Circulation since 1996), it reaches the upper echelon of Capitol Hill insiders and gave the media mogul cache among the Washington elite.


Now that Murdoch owns the Wall Street Journal, however, whose conservative editorial page wields a much bigger political stick, he may no longer really need the Weekly Standard, which preaches much the same message, but to a considerably smaller audience. Murdoch’s own political views seem to have swung more toward the center over the last few years, and that, too, might be a factor in his decision to sell.

Or, to be blunt, News Corp., as the prospects for print media shrink, may be reviewing all its assets and deciding what stays and what goes. Using that rationale, holding on to what we suspect is a money-losing magazine doesn’t make much sense.

A spokeswoman for News Corp. declined to comment. A spokeman for Anschutz could not be immediately reached.

For Anschutz, whose AEG owns and operates some of the biggest sports and arenas in the country (including L.A.’s Staples Center) as well as numerous sports franchises (Los Angeles Kings) and a few production studios (Walden Media, Bristol Bay Productions), the Weekly Standard may seem like an odd acquisition.

But Anschutz, whose net worth is estimated by Forbes to be close to $8 billion, has long been an advocate of conservative causes and owning the Weekly Standard could boost his political influence even further.

--Joe Flint