Sunday, November 21, 2004

WaPo profiles Examiner owner Anschutz

The Washington Post, perhaps fearing Phil Anschutz's entry into Washington's newspaper market, has printed this profile of the Denver billionaire. Anschutz bought the San Francisco Examiner last year and some observers have speculated that he plans to start free dailies in other citees.

Some quotes from the article:
    • "In 1992, Anschutz contributed $10,000 to a group called Colorado Family Values, to support an amendment to the state constitution that invalidated state and local laws against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Anschutz's money helped pay for an ad campaign that said such anti-bias laws gave gays and lesbians 'special rights.' The U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the amendment as discriminatory."

    • "In 2002, New York Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer sued Anschutz and four telecom executives, accusing Anschutz of making $1.5 billion in "unjust enrichment revenue," including the sale of initial-public-offering stock Anschutz received in the hopes he would steer investment banking business to Citigroup Inc. Anschutz and Spitzer reached an agreement in which Anschutz admitted no wrongdoing and later paid $4.4 million to law schools and charities, and Spitzer agreed to drop the suit."

    • "Anschutz persuaded a movie studio to pay him $100,000 to film Adair putting out his well fire for a 1967 John Wayne film called 'Hellfighters.' The fire was put out and Anschutz saved his business."

    • The billionaire wants to change people's way of thinking: "In a rare public speech in February, reported by the Wall Street Journal, Anschutz told the audience: 'My friends think I'm a candidate for a lobotomy, and my competitors think I'm naive or stupid or both. But you know what? I don't care. If we can make some movies that have a positive effect on people's lives and on our culture, that's enough for me.'"

    • "Anschutz is an active Republican donor. Since 1996, he, his companies and members of his family have given more than $500,000 in campaign contributions to GOP candidates and committees."

    • "However, none of these scandals has yet to tarnish Anschutz's reputation ..."
But in San Francisco, they have an idea of what Anschutz is up to. "When he bought the Examiner, we thought, 'What the hell is this guy doing?' Its business prospects were not phenomenal," said Tim Redmond, executive editor of the liberal San Francisco Bay Guardian. "When we found out who he was, we were nervous he was going to bring his Christian-evangelical politics to San Francisco."

Anschutz has supported socially conservative causes. In 1987, Anschutz's family foundation gave Focus on the Family founder James Dobson an award for his "contributions to the American Family." According to its Web site, the Denver-based group works to "counter the media-saturating message that homosexuality is inborn and unchangeable" and one of its policy experts called legalized abortion an example of when "Satan temporarily succeeds in destroying God's creation."