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Trolling for Billionaires

NewsMax sucks up to the new, mega-rich, conservative publisher on the block.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 3/15/2005

Is NewsMax looking to put another conservative billionaire in its corner? From all of the sycophantic articles it has run about Philip Anschutz, the answer appears to be yes.

Anschutz has his fingers in a lot of things, from railroads to telecommunications to sports teams. But two recent ventures have put him on NewsMax's radar -- newspaper publishing and film production. But there's another reason NewsMax is drawn to him: A Washington Post profile of Anschutz notes that he "has supported socially conservative causes" and is "an active Republican donor."

NewsMax unloaded a raft of laudatory articles regarding the recent launch of the Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner newspaper. A Feb. 1 story by Jon Dougherty (the name to trust for ConWeb sycophancy) featured how tabloid-sized metropolitan papers like the Examiner "have made a stunning comeback." That was joined by a article by Phil Brennan the same day claiming that the Examiner's presence "is probably not putting any smiles on the faces of the folks at the mighty Washington Post."

On Feb. 11, NewsMax (and Examiner) columnist Kathleen Antrim described how "Five hundred of Washington, D.C.’s most influential powerbrokers gathered this week at The National Museum of Women in the Arts to celebrate the launch of The Washington Examiner newspaper." On the guest lists were many conservatives, including "Christopher Ruddy of NewsMax." Antrim concluded by noting how Anschutz's ownership has apparently turned around the San Francisco Examiner, adding "With a talent for assembling excellent management teams, this success bodes well for The Washington Examiner."

Need we mention that like its owner, the Washington Examiner is conservative-leaning?

Anschutz's film-production efforts have also gotten the NewsMax seal of approval in the form of a Feb. 25 puff piece by Govindini Murty, described as "an actress, writer and co-director of the Liberty Film Festival." Murty lauded Anschutz's film company, producers of the movies "Ray" and "Because of Winn-Dixie," for its "strategy of making positive, life-affirming films for a public that feels increasingly ignored and abused by Hollywood." Still, Murty criticized "Ray" because "no mention is made of the fact that the lead character [singer Ray Charles] is a conservative"; she suggested that " [t]hese sorts of omissions seem to be part of Hollywood's ongoing efforts to rewrite the history of the right and erase its artistic and political achievements." Murty concludes: "The success of 'Ray' and 'Because of Winn-Dixie' bodes well for Walden Media and Philip Anschutz's efforts to make a change for the better in our popular culture."

Murty's Liberty Film Festival was described last September by NewsMax as "L.A.'s first conservative film festival." Among the festival's events were a Ronald Reagan tribute and a panel, featuring NewsMax's liberal-celebrity-bashing columnist James Hirsen, that examined "whether or not there is a new Hollywood blacklist against conservatives."

NewsMax, of course, already his conservative moneybags Richard Mellon Scaife as an investor and part owner. You can't have too many conservative billionaires in your corner, it would appear.

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