Nikki Finke is out with an LA Weekly story saying that David Geffen is actively trying to buy the L.A. Times and feels confident he will succeed. She also reports that editor Dean Baquet has dispatched managing editor Leo Wolinsky on a mission to secretly "drum up local support for a local buyer of the Times." Wolinsky recently spoke with former mayor Richard Riordan and has met with other unspecified "rich-and-powerful Angelenos," Finke says. If that's so, and Wolinsky is not merely carrying out an assignment to find out why so many civic-minded Angelenos disregard the Times these days, Baquet could have some more explaining to do in Chicago. Tribune Company execs have already fumed while Baquet defied a request to prepare for more deep budget cuts, got publisher Jeff Johnson to go along, and was supported by a newsroom petition. If he's now actively promoting a sale that Tribune insists it has no interest in entertaining, you have to wonder about the future of the Baquet-Tribune marriage. [Unless the Trib secretly put him up to it?—ed. in charge of conspiracy theories.]
Finke also tries to make a case that there's something unethical going on between Baquet and the billionaires. I don't see it in the skimpy evidence she presents. She does have some intriguing emails from investigative reporter Ted Rohrlich, who was working a story on Ron Burkle. (And might still be for all we know — Times brass didn't respond to inquiries from Finke.) Meanwhile, there are rumblings that Chicago Tribune executives are starting to prepare managers for a fast-moving split of the company that would lead to the newspaper side (at least) going private. And The Old Farts Society, a group of retired Times reporters and editors, met today in Burbank and voted to send a letter supporting Baquet.