JONATHAN CHAIT JANUARY 14, 2010
There seems to be some law of conservation of right-wing billionaires willing to heavily subsidize conservative Washington newspapers. For years, the role was filled by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who used his cult proceeds to finance the Washington Times. Now that the Times is collapsing, Phil Anschutz is stepping in to beef up the Washington Examiner:
For the editors of The Washington Examiner, instability at The Washington Times is offering a chance for the free tabloid to amp up its already large stable of conservative opinion writers.
“We want to be a place where people who are center-right in their views can come and find almost all of the leading commentators working that territory, with the exception of The Wall Street Journal,” said Examiner Editor Stephen Smith.
Cal Thomas, whose column was syndicated in the Times for 25 years, recently moved over to the Examiner. And now, the Examiner has recently struck a deal with Creators Syndicate, which could lead to a migration of some conservative columnists from the Times.
Starting next month, the Examiner plans to run columns by 18 Creators writers, including Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Malkin, David Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, John Stossel and Larry Kudlow.
I'm not sure what the Examiner's business model is, or if it even has one. For a while, it was distributed for free in many Washington neighborhoods, and the sales department would cite its high "circulation" in an effort to pump up ad sales. Washingtonians got very sick of having to pick the thing off their lawns and throw it out every single day, and many got taken off the circulation list, often after repeated badgering.
In the meantime, the Washington Times is still kicking around. So we have this unusual situation where this heavily Democratic area has three newspapers -- one whose editorial page runs straight down the middle, or perhaps just a hair to the right, and two more right-wing challengers.