Though not a self-made man, Scaife distinguished himself by funding reactionary media enterprises – most notably the Arkansas Project designed to destroy former President Bill Clinton – and putting in place much of the modern conservative media and organizing infrastructure through his patronage. Scaife created the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review out of a consolidation of various local newspapers around and within the city of Pittsburgh and was a major investor in NewsMax Media as well as the KQV news radio station in Pittsburgh.
Beyond his media projects Scaife also provided major funding to a host of conservative organizations ranging from the American Enterprise Institute to the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He even created a position at Pepperdine University for long time apparatchik and Clinton Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr. With the possible exception of the Koch Brothers, Scaife was the most notorious and prolific right wing donor of the past decade becoming the archetype of the eccentric right wing billionaire willing to fund dirty tricks against ideological and personal enemies.
Though it appears later in his life Scaife changed his mind about the Clintons, giving $100,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative and one of his newspapers endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2008.
Scaife died of cancer which he said was untreatable in a farewell column in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published in May of this year. In the column, titled What Matters Most, Scaife said his terminal diagnosis had given him perspective on his life. He was particularly enthused to note the value of newspapers to “our community” two words and concepts he spent much of his life fighting against.