Video: Republican billionaire to buy the Strib?

posted at 8:41 am on April 2, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Not just any Republican either, but Glen Taylor — the current owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and a man who served in the state Senate for eight years. Taylor made a formal offer that the Minneapolis daily’s management accepted, and now has sixty days to put together an investor team to raise the capital, assuming he needs to do so at all. It would take the Strib private, and perhaps have some impact on its progressive pitch, although for the moment everyone is taking care to deny that:

Minnesota billionaire Glen Taylor has made a formal offer to acquire the Star Tribune, a purchase that would add the state’s largest media company to his diverse business empire.

Taylor said in an interview Tuesday that he has made a cash offer as an individual without any other investors. He declined to say how much he would pay, but he emphasized that the Star Tribune is the only media company he is pursuing.

“I’m interested in this one because it’s a Minnesota paper,” Taylor said. “For the long run, if we can continue to have a news media that’s consistent, fair, broad-based … I think it’s in the interest of our state. I would be proud to be part of that.”

Taylor says he has no interest in expanding further than the Star Tribune. He’s not looking to build a media empire, but he apparently wants his own media outlet in his backyard. Why? For the moment, Taylor dismisses talk of changing direction at the paper:

One employee, Mike Orth, said he’s excited about the possibility of Taylor’s ownership.

“It’s going to be a great place for us to work with that ownership,” he said.

Other employees, who didn’t want to be identified, said they are cautiously optimistic and glad that it’s a local guy as opposed to a large newspaper chain based out of town.

Taylor said he will not serve on the board or take an active role in the paper’s day-to-day management.

Strib staff worried that the paper would get bought by a big conglomerate interested in profitability through economies of scale. Taylor’s purchase would prevent that, but again that leaves the question of motive. The paper supposedly returned to profitability after it emerged from its 2009 bankruptcy, but the industry isn’t exactly a high-growth investment area — and this will take at least a few hundred million dollars out of Taylor’s pocket. The return on investment seems pretty low for a business motive, even if the Strib is somewhat profitable — and its recent land sale for a Vikings stadium takes one attractive asset out of the mix already.

How Republican is Taylor? As mentioned before, he’s a former GOP state Senator, from 1981-1990. More recently, though, he’s been a consistent if not overly remarkable donor to the state party and to its candidates. He’s kicked in $30,000 over the last three cycles to the state’s dysfunctional Republican Party, and has maxed out for candidates such as Michele Bachmann, Randy Demmer, and Erik Paulsen (not to the max for Paulsen). Taylor also contributed $10,000 to Tim Pawlenty’s Freedom First PAC. In other words, Taylor may not be totally political, but don’t expect him to spend all of this money just to pass on using his voice in the local/state media arena.

We seem to be returning to the old-school newspaper model of wealthy ownership, where profit mattered less than having an outlet for views and influence. Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post not long ago, and now Taylor may get the Strib at a bargain. We’ll see how that influences the editorial voice of these papers. In the Twin Cities, we can at least hope for some improvement — although to be fair, the local and state reporting is usually reliable.


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Shortest vacation ever? Lets hope the editorial quality of the paper doesn’t suffer too much. ; )

Bmore on April 2, 2014 at 8:46 AM

I dunno, will he?

Akzed on April 2, 2014 at 8:46 AM

Why would anyone invest in a newspaper? It is a dying industry taking its final breaths.

ConstantineXI on April 2, 2014 at 8:47 AM

“For the long run, if we can continue to have a news media that’s consistent, fair, broad-based … I think it’s in the interest of our state. I would be proud to be part of that.”

Does that describe the Strib?

OmahaConservative on April 2, 2014 at 8:47 AM

If Taylor buys it – I might renew my subscription.

Taylor is a good guy.

gophergirl on April 2, 2014 at 8:52 AM

At least James Lileks seems to be happpy.

rbj on April 2, 2014 at 8:57 AM

60 days? How will progressives try to stop this?

forest on April 2, 2014 at 9:01 AM

It’s a good start. We need more rich conservatives to buy up media outlets.

crankyoldlady on April 2, 2014 at 9:08 AM

Well I finally might start buying that paper again after 30 years.

jlemieu1 on April 2, 2014 at 9:15 AM

Hopefully he changes the overall tone of the paper. But this basically is the way for him to get into the Vikings new stadium area since the Trib owns most land around there.

jlemieu1 on April 2, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Ed, it is my understanding that a vacation=not working. ???

conservative pilgrim on April 2, 2014 at 9:18 AM

Why would anyone invest in a newspaper? It is a dying industry taking its final breaths.
ConstantineXI on April 2, 2014 at 8:47 AM

People will always want something in print, there will always be a niche. Although the Strib, known as the “Red Star” locally, has had it’s share of financial problems, inc Ch11 bankruptcy in 2008. A new owner who’s looking to change it into something other than Pravda might just make a go of it.

whatcat on April 2, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Ed, it is my understanding that a vacation=not working. ???

conservative pilgrim on April 2, 2014 at 9:18 AM

I think this was just too exciting of a local story, meriting a break from vacation.

whatcat on April 2, 2014 at 9:21 AM

I think this was just too exciting of a local story, meriting a break from vacation.

whatcat on April 2, 2014 at 9:21 AM

Maybe, but it looks like Ed is on the clock this morning.

conservative pilgrim on April 2, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Can’t wait to see the midterm editorials…

vnvet on April 2, 2014 at 9:33 AM

…oh no!…the Koch Brothers or something!

KOOLAID2 on April 2, 2014 at 9:33 AM

Why would anyone invest in a newspaper? It is a dying industry taking its final breaths.
ConstantineXI on April 2, 2014 at 8:47 AM

They are declining, but newspapers still account for 60% of all media spending.

sentinelrules on April 2, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Does that describe the Strib?

OmahaConservative on April 2, 2014 at 8:47 AM

He did say “if” a conditional rather than “having” a present tense. I think he knows where the paper is and where it should go.

KW64 on April 2, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Maybe, but it looks like Ed is on the clock this morning.

conservative pilgrim on April 2, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Mebbe, but if he’s out of state he might come home to a bit of snow mess – word is 6″ to a foot of the white stuff by Friday. Hope they got it wrong, tho – there’s just a few tiny dibs and dabs left on the ground now.

whatcat on April 2, 2014 at 9:47 AM

People will always want something in print, there will always be a niche. Although the Strib, known as the “Red Star” locally, has had it’s share of financial problems, inc Ch11 bankruptcy in 2008. A new owner who’s looking to change it into something other than Pravda might just make a go of it.

whatcat on April 2, 2014 at 9:19 AM

The main this is how strong a will Taylor has — remember in 1985, conservatives like Jesse Helms were clamoring for Ted Turner to buy CBS News and fire Dan Rather, based on the first four years of operation of CNN. But after Ted bought MGM and started hobnobing with the bi-coastal celebrity elites, by 1987 he was opening bureaus in Havana after making sweetheart deals with Fidel Castro and was dating and then marrying Jane Fonda.

The Strib isn’t in good enough shape financially so that you’re going to see howls of protest right off the bat by staffers. So it’s likely that some or the more progressive higher-ups will try and ‘enlighten’ their new owner before ever attempting any counter-action (and the paper could end up like the New York Daily News, where Mort Zuckerman’s endorsed the GOP presidential candidate in three of the past four elections, but no one on this planet would think the folks in the newsroom share the owner’s feelings, and he’s does nothing to change that liberal ideological climate).

jon1979 on April 2, 2014 at 9:47 AM

If for no other reason than the wailing and crying of the lefty masses, I am in favor of this guy wasting his money on such a purchase making such a wise investment.

mchristian on April 2, 2014 at 9:50 AM

All Taylor needs to know about selling papers is to look at the success that less than liberal news outlets are doing financially. (Fox News, Drudge, conservative talk radio…)

Tater Salad on April 2, 2014 at 10:13 AM

The main this is how strong a will Taylor has — remember in 1985, conservatives like Jesse Helms were clamoring for Ted Turner

The comparison would be apt if Ted had served as a Republican state office holder for the decade of the Reagan years.

The Strib isn’t in good enough shape financially so that you’re going to see howls of protest right off the bat by staffers.
jon1979 on April 2, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Letting unhappy staff go is a good cost-cutting measure, especially when there are so many in the field looking for newroom work. And I suspect some disgruntled employee isn’t going to boss around Forbes No. 149 too easily.

whatcat on April 2, 2014 at 10:22 AM

If for no other reason than the wailing and crying of the lefty masses, I am in favor of this guy wasting his money on such a purchase making such a wise investment.

mchristian on April 2, 2014 at 9:50 AM

LOL. However, what piqued his interest is the move to digital media. If he can oversee a success incorporation of print with (or to) digital then that’s the way to go.

whatcat on April 2, 2014 at 10:27 AM

We need to see much more of this and on a much larger scale. The left stream media is the greatest threat to our freedom. This paper, like much of media and the entertainment industry, is union. So is the government and the union media thugs fight viciously to protect their govt. union brothers and sisters. If you don’t think so, tell me when you’ve ever seen the media support the Republicans during a govt shut down…..or any attempt to reign in govt. for that matter.

devan95 on April 2, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Stuart Smalley is wondering how this affects his re-election chances in the Land of the Lizard People.

Steve Z on April 2, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Is it presently a liberal rag?

Obamatrix on April 2, 2014 at 11:17 AM

Interesting.

I’m in Utah, and we have two big newspapers. They share a lot of resources like printing presses, etc. Both have been around since the 1800′s. One is reliably liberal, and currently has the bias of MSNBC without MSNBC’s accuracy and attention to detail (snark, yes).

The other, the Deseret News, is part and parcel of a growing media effort that is actually quite profitable. They were featured recently in our Utah business magazine as an example of a newspaper that is bucking the declining circulation/profitability trend.

Not coincidentally, they are the more conservative and family friendly bit. Indeed, they decided to focus on stuff that promotes the family; and religious stuff (thats their big niche–they cater to the LDS community worldwide). Shockingly, it’s successful for them.

Who knew that bucking the progressive-destroy everything bit would make sense?

Vanceone on April 2, 2014 at 11:18 AM

The Red Star has been nothing but propaganda. Pravda of the Mississippi. Hopefully Taylor will at least bring some sanity to the paper.

Minnfidel on April 2, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Lets hope the editorial quality of the paper doesn’t suffer too much

As if it could get any worse.

Another Drew on April 2, 2014 at 1:37 PM

Is it presently a liberal rag?

Obamatrix on April 2, 2014 at 11:17 AM

When I was growing up, we called it the “Minneapolis Star and Sickle.”

or “The fish-wrap factory on the west side of the river.”

Hat Trick on April 2, 2014 at 2:03 PM

“Video: Republican billionaire to buy the Strib?”

Yep.

Kevin M on April 2, 2014 at 2:14 PM

These Ed Morrissey questions are extremely easy to answer!

Kevin M on April 2, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Hah! He’s just a stalking horse for the Evil Koch Brothers. You read it here first!

PersonFromPorlock on April 2, 2014 at 2:42 PM

It would take the Strib private, and perhaps have some impact on its progressive pitch, although for the moment everyone is taking care to deny that:

“I’m interested in this one because it’s a Minnesota paper,” Taylor said. “For the long run, if we can continue to have a news media that’s consistent, fair, broad-based …
______

Well which is it, is it going to continue it’s “progressive pitch” or be “a news media that’s consistent, fair?”

RJL on April 2, 2014 at 3:07 PM

Stuart Smalley (MN Senator Al Franken) is wondering how this affects his re-election chances in the Land of the Lizard People.

Steve Z on April 2, 2014 at 10:46 AM

The Democrats will have to find cars with larger trunks and homes with larger closets to create “find” ballots for Al Franken.

RJL on April 2, 2014 at 3:16 PM

43 years ago as a 12 year old I had a paper route delivering the Minneapolis Tribune. Out collecting one night,I had a customer cancel his paper and he went off on a rant about how liberal the paper had become. I had no clue what he meant but it still sticks to me this day.

jims on April 2, 2014 at 4:08 PM

And we care…because Hubert Humphrey ? Walter Mondale ? Jesse Ventura ? Al Frankenstein ?

bigjack on April 2, 2014 at 4:55 PM

How much of the purchase price is for real estate and how much for everything else?

There will have to be a change in the editorial content before I decide to throw away 50 cents or 75 cents or however much it is for a single copy, or waste even a few minutes browsing the website.

The Saint Paul Pioneer-Press is okay, not great, but still the only daily I’ll buy or read.

J Baustian on April 3, 2014 at 2:22 AM

Letting unhappy staff go is a good cost-cutting measure, especially when there are so many in the field looking for newroom work. And I suspect some disgruntled employee isn’t going to boss around Forbes No. 149 too easily.

whatcat on April 2, 2014 at 10:22 AM

There’s your golden key. Even if the whole staff quits in protest, there are enough hungry reporters & staff out there who’d be happy to take their jobs. I think they may even break a strike, if it means more-or-less permanent jobs.

ReggieA on April 3, 2014 at 3:07 PM