The shareholders that accused KUSA’s newsroom of racist behavior in a federal filing are inching closer to acquiring the station’s parent company, according to multiple reports.

Standard General along with Apollo Global Management have reportedly made an offer to purchase 9News’s parent company Tegna for $24 a share.

The editor of TV News Check Michael Depp said there’s likely a feeling of impending disaster at 9News and other Tegna stations that could see massive shakeups if the deal goes through.

As a high-finance battle in office tower boardrooms wages over ownership of Tegna, there’s likely a feeling of a “sword of Damocles” hanging over their news operation, Depp says.

The hedge fund bidder Standard General cited former 9News reporter Lori Lizarraga’s scathing opinion piece in a federal filing last year, which argued her accusations of racism exposed Tegna to “to significant liability, damage and reputational harm.”

A representative with Standard General also conducted a townhall event with several local Democrats and Lizarraga where they criticized the station’s refusal to be forthcoming.

Standard General’s proxy war for Tegna board seats was ultimately unsuccessful, but they did finally convince the local news conglomerate to consider an acquisition, leading to the current negotiations.

What a Standard General acquisition of Tegna could mean for 9News is unclear, but there’s reason for them to be nervous.

Standard General says they will replace Tegna CEO Dave Lougee, a former 9News executive himself, if a deal goes through.

The Tegna chief has faced questions from Standard General and media fixture Adonis Hoffman about a 2014 flap that has become known as the “valet incident.”

In a sequence of events which came fully to light earlier this month, Hoffman, who is Black, went to an industry luncheon in Washington in 2014 that was also attended by Lougee. The two spoke at some length during the event, Hoffman has recalled. At the hotel car valet afterward, Lougee, who is white, handed Hoffman a ticket, mistaking the longtime fixture in Washington media and regulatory circles for a valet.


Lougee apologized on the day of the incident and on other occasions, including after Hoffman withdrew his nomination to the Tegna board of directors. He cited the valet affair as one of the reasons he would not be able to work constructively with Lougee. Hoffman had been on a slate of nominees put forward by Standard General, which owns 9% of Tegna.

It should be noted that antitrust hurdles would still have to be cleared and a deal could still fall apart.

However, should Tegna ultimately be taken private by Standard General, Lizarrga’s and other allegations against Tegna will certainly have played a key role in pushing a deal forward.