Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Philip Anschutz


    • Weekly Standard: Owner (Clarity Media Group)
    • Anschutz Company: CEO

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

A billionaire investor and funder of numerous rightwing causes in the United States, Phillip Anschutz is a conservative tycoon and Evangelical Presbyterian whose newspapers have pushed a conservative political agenda—like those of similar-minded media moguls, including Conrad Black, Rupert Murdoch, and the late Phillip Merrill.

The founder of Quest Communications and former owner of the Union Pacific Railroad, Anschutz's media empire includes the newspaper publishing company Clarity Media Group, the cinema chain Regal Entertainment Group, and the Anschutz Film Group, parent company of Walden Media and Bristol Bay Productions. Anschutz is also CEO of the Anschutz Company, the parent of the Anschutz Corporation holding company, and owner of the soccer team D.C. United.[1]

Weekly Standard

In June 2009, Anschutz's Clarity Media purchased from Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation the Weekly Standard, neoconservatism's flagship magazine. Founded by William Kristol, the magazine has a circulation of some 80,000 and served as a key proponent of the George W. Bush administration's "war on terror." Anschutz reportedly bought it for about $1 million. The Times highlighted the ideological significance of the "new ownership," which "comes at a time when conservatism, especially the version espoused by the Standard involving American muscularity to spread freedom abroad, is not in the ascendancy. Mr. Anschutz, who made his billions in oil, real estate, railroads and telecommunications before turning to media, is more closely aligned with Christian conservatism, a thread not associated with the Standard."[2]

Although the Standard has not been a mouthpiece of the Christian Right, in pushing for aggressive U.S. foreign policies, neoconservative writers including those at the Standard have for decades forged alliances with many elements of Christian conservatism (see, for example, Right Web Profile: Project for the New American Century). According to the Times, Anschutz "instructed the two top editors [Kristol and Fred Barnes] … not to alter the publication's ideological complexion."[3]

When asked about the reason for selling the magazine to Anschutz, a News Corp. executive told the Times that Murdoch had decided to sell it to "someone even more enthusiastic about perpetuating that voice.''[4]

While the notoriously media adverse Anschutz refused to be interviewed about his purchase of the Standard, his spokesman, Jim Monaghan, told the Times, ''We have a high regard for the magazine, and a high regard for the leadership in Kristol and Barnes. We look forward to increasing circulation, increasing advertising and Web presence.''[5]

Under the News Corp., the Standard operated with yearly losses of between $1 million and $5 million. However, Monaghan said that Anschutz expected the magazine's financial situation to turn around: ''We don't purchase assets with the intention that they won't become profitable."[6]

Conservative Creds

While colleagues insist that Anschutz is not involved in setting his papers' editorial agendas,[7] his publications have a track record of promoting rightist foreign and domestic policies. For example, according to Media Matters for America, the Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner, a free daily tabloid targeting the Washington, D.C. area, has pushed a slate of Republican Party priorities, carrying editorials with titles like "Social Security Robs Future to Pay for Past" and "Abortion Isn't a Game, So Stop Playing."[8]

The Examiner's first edition, published February 1, 2005, ran an editorial entitled "Hope Blossoms Where Bush Plants Democracy." The editorial "featured glowing reviews of Bush's inaugural address, stating that he 'spoke with such eloquence of America's role in spreading liberty and democracy.' It went on to laud Bush's leadership as more successful than that of past foreign policy officials including James Baker, Madeleine Albright and Henry Kissinger, stating: 'Today there's a better chance of peace in the Middle East than the wise men of foreign policy achieved in their decades at the helm.'"[9]

Anschutz also has been an important financial backer of the U.S. Right, including the Republican Party. Summarizing some of his more notable efforts, the Washington Post reported in 2004, "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.' 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. 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."[10]

According to Media Matters, "In May 2003, the Orange County Weekly reported that other Anschutz Foundation beneficiaries include the Institute for American Values, which according to the Weekly 'campaigns against single parenting,' and Enough is Enough, which 'promotes Internet censorship.' The San Francisco Chronicle noted on February 20, 2004, that Anschutz also funds Morality in Media. As Media Matters previously noted, the Institute for American Values also receives funding from the conservative Bradley and Scaife foundations, as well as grants from the John M. Olin Foundation, another major financer of conservative organizations. Enough is Enough and Morality in Media have also received funding from the conservative Castle Rock Foundation."[11]

In addition, Anschutz has bankrolled Hollywood films that push his Christian vision. According to the Times, "In 2000, after waiting for Hollywood to make more family-friendly and inspirational movies, [Anschutz] started producing films such as Holes, [2003's] sleeper hit about a boy sent to a detention camp to dig holes, and Ray, the Ray Charles biopic."[12] Also, according to his Forbes profile, Anschutz's "Walden Media production company produced The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe last winter, [which] tapped the Christian fan base for $700 million worldwide."[13]

According to Slate.com, Anschutz said in a February 2004 speech that he entered "the movie business because he wanted to stop 'cursing the darkness' (Hollywood's violent and vulgar R-rated films) and start making family fare."[14]

Business and Media Empire

Anschutz got his first major start in business in 1965, when at the age of 24 he founded the Anschutz Corporation.[15] He went on to make a fortune investing in an assortment of oil, railway, and telecommunications businesses, including Quest Communications.[16] By 2009, according to Forbes, Anschutz owned or controlled stakes "in some 100 businesses. Among them: railroads; oil companies; cattle ranching; wind farms; national park concessions; professional hockey, basketball and soccer teams; Regal Entertainment Group, the largest movie operator in the U.S.; the Staples Center and Kodak Theater in Los Angeles; the 02 Dome in London, where the late Michael Jackson planned 50 concerts; and movie production house Walden Media."[17]

Some of his business dealings have landed him in legal trouble. For example, in 2002, according to the Washington Post, "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."[18]

It was not until 2004 that Anschutz became involved in print media. That year, he purchased the San Francisco Examiner,[19] which became the flagship publication of his Clarity Media Group.[20] The website of Anschutz's American Entertainment Group states, "The Examiner name and brand will serve as the basis for the further expansion of a news, features, and advertising alternative in other key markets."[21]

Using the Examiner as a model, Anschutz went on to launch the Washington Examiner in 2005 and the Baltimore Examiner in 2006, both of which "were also free and carried the San Francisco Examiner's famed 'Eagle' masthead. Last year [2008] he rolled out local Web sites targeting 90 cities under the Examiner name, packed with user-generated content from contributors called 'examiners.' These bloggers are paid based on page views their content generates." [22]

According to Forbes, "With no paid circulation, Anschutz delivers his tabloid newspapers using what he calls 'geo-targeting.' Requested or not, they land on the front lawns and porches of homes in zip codes and 'census blocks' of readers whose average annual household income is $73,000 or more. The pitch to advertisers: … You'll get a better buy spending less to reach only the richest, best-educated households."[23]

When asked whether Anschutz should consider shifting the Weekly Standard to a free model like that of the Examiners, media analyst John Morton told Forbes, "That would dilute their demographics. Besides, conservatives are already affluent." [24]

Regardless of the profitability of Anschutz's print media holdings, they have provided him with a powerful voice in the nation's capital. As Politico reports, owning the Washington Examiner and the Weekly Standard, "probably the nation's most influential conservative magazine," has given Anschutz "a megaphone for his right-wing views on taxes, national security, and President Barack Obama that the 130 or so companies he owns have not provided him."[25]

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Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

Sources

1. BusinessWeek, "Clarity Media Group : Executive Profile: Philip F. Anschutz," (accessed 23 October 2009).

2. Tim Arango, "New Owner for a Magazine As Political Tastes Change," New York Times, August 3, 2009.

3. Tim Arango, "New Owner for a Magazine As Political Tastes Change," New York Times, August 3, 2009.

4. Tim Arango, "New Owner for a Magazine As Political Tastes Change," New York Times, August 3, 2009.

5. Tim Arango, "New Owner for a Magazine As Political Tastes Change," New York Times, August 3, 2009.

6. Tim Arango, "New Owner for a Magazine As Political Tastes Change," New York Times, August 3, 2009.

7. Tim Arango, "New Owner for a Magazine As Political Tastes Change," New York Times, August 3, 2009.

8. Media Matters for America, "Right-wing slant for free in DC's new daily paper, the Washington Examiner," February 2, 2005.

9. Media Matters for America, "Right-wing slant for free in DC's new daily paper, the Washington Examiner," February 2, 2005.

10. Annys Shin, "A Low Profile and a Large Footprint," Washington Post, November 21, 2004.

11. Media Matters for America, "Right-wing slant for free in DC's new daily paper, the Washington Examiner," February 2, 2005.

12. Annys Shin, "A Low Profile and a Large Footprint," Washington Post, November 21, 2004.

13. Forbes.com., "400 Richest Americans: #31 Philip F Anschutz," September 21,2006, (accessed October 25, 2009).

14. Jack Shafer, "The Billionaire Newsboy," Slate.com, March 24, 2005.

15. Horatio Alger Association, " Phillip Anschutz" (accessed October 24, 2009).

16. Annys Shin, "A Low Profile and a Large Footprint," Washington Post, November 21, 2004.

17. Dirk Smillie, "The Stealth Media Mogul," Forbes, June 29, 2009.

18. Annys Shin, "A Low Profile and a Large Footprint," Washington Post, November 21, 2004.

19. Dirk Smillie, "The Stealth Media Mogul," Forbes, June 29, 2009.

20. American Entertainment Group, "Clarity Media Group," (accessed October 25, 2009).

21. American Entertainment Group, "Clarity Media Group," (accessed October 25, 2009).

22. Dirk Smillie, "The Stealth Media Mogul," Forbes, June 29, 2009.

23. Dirk Smillie, "The Stealth Media Mogul," Forbes, June 29, 2009.

24. Dirk Smillie, "The Stealth Media Mogul," Forbes, June 29, 2009.

25. Michael Calderone, "Phil Anschutz's conservative agenda," Politico, October 16, 2009.

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Philip Anschutz Résumé

    Affiliations

    • Weekly Standard: Owner (Clarity Media)
    • Anschutz Family Foundation

    Business

    • Anschutz Company: CEO
    • Clarity Media Group: Owner
    • Union Pacific Railroad: former Director
    • Quest: Founder
    • D.C. United: Owner

    Education

    • University of Kansas: BA in Science

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