Topic: Washington Examiner
NewsBusters' Matthew Sheffield has long been begging right-wing funders to fund right-wing journalism. but even right-wing sugar daddies have limits to how much money they're willing to lose on the perennial money pit that is conservative journalism.
This has been proven again with the Washington Examiner's announcement that it will cease being a daily newspaper and refashion itself into a weekly conservative opinion journal. The Examiner is owned by conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz. While the privately held Examiner has never released its financial numbers, but given the shaky state of the newspaper industry as a whole, it's highly doubtful that the Examiner was a money-maker -- if it was, Anschutz would likely not be pulling the plug.
We detailed in 2009 how the Examiner stacked its opinion pages with conservative commentators that peddled the usual misinformation -- indeed, Anschutz reportedly mandated that the paper carry "nothing but conservative columns and conservative op-ed writers." While Examiner editor Stephen G. Smith insisted that the paper's news reporting was "down the middle," its was bound to be tainted by the opinion pages' right-wing tilt, fairly or not.
And there was some bias in the Examiner's news product, from pushing misleading talking points on health care reform to launching attacks on government security officials. One reviewer complained that the Second City comedy troupe didn't make enough anti-Obama jokes. A front-page headline once infamously blared, "Obama disses white guys." The bias even spread to the sports page.
Smith's insistence that the Examiner is "not some wild-eyed right-wing Web site" overlooks the fact that extremism has had its moments, which include promoting birtherism and Examiner columnist Tim Carney arguing against anti-discrimination laws.
Even giving the Examiner away -- it's a free paper -- apparently hasn't generated much reader loyalty or created much traction, at least not enough to make it profitable. The paper is typically sparse of advertising, with few display or classified ads, and often more legal notices from local governments (which the Examiner contracts with local governments to print) than either.
The problem with Sheffield's call for conservative journalism outlets ignores the fact that conservatives have demonstrated they don't want journalism, they want opinions that reinforce their views. The Examiner's move from journalism to full-time ideologically driven conservative writing is just the latest example.
UPDATE: Jim Romenesko catches the Examiner making a big front-page boo-boo in today's paper, on top of the news of its imminent dismantling: