Time for another edition of the new game that's sweeping the nation: "Who's That Right Winger?"
An interconnected network of extremely wealthy, far-right-wing individuals are quietly pushing their ideological, corporatist and plutocratic agenda all across America. They fund hundreds of media organizations, front groups, think tanks, Astroturf campaigns, training centers, academic reports, and other efforts to bend national, state and local policies to their will.
These organizations and campaigns often become well-known — but they rarely reveal who's behind the curtain, providing the money and calling the shots. That's the goal of our game.
So here's today's question: Who is the right-wing Daddy Warbucks with his own mass media megaphone constantly blasting across our land? Most people would say it's Rupert Murdoch, who controls Fox News. But the one I'm thinking of is richer than Rupert, much deeper into right-wing political activism, and practically unknown outside his own circle: Philip Anschutz.
The 36th richest person in the world, this oil billionaire is quietly building his own media empire. He bought the San Francisco Examiner in 2004, then founded the virulently anti-Obama Washington Examiner to give him a national policy impact. Since then, he has trademarked the "Examiner" name in more than 60 cities.
Well, you might say, newspapers are so "old media," so who cares? You might, for Anschutz has also launched examiner.com, an Internet news portal that has burst into 129 markets, delivering what's called "hyper-local" news. The traffic already coming to these local online outlets makes examiner.com America's 21st-largest news site.
Pay attention to this right-winger, for if the Internet is the future of news, so is Anschutz.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.