Whoa. According to Rachel Swan at East Bay Express, the SF Examiner just bought alternative weekly SF Bay Guardian. "The owners of the San Francisco Examiner just bought the San Francisco Bay Guardian, according to two sources," reports Swan." "Known as the oldest alt-weekly in the Bay Area, the Bay Guardian was founded in 1966 and has been a vociferous defender of progressive politics for several decades." And the Examiner was founded by the Hearst family before being recently purchased by Canadian investors.

We can only assume that, perhaps, one of said sources was former longtime EBX editor Stephen Buel? Maybe. Who knows. He recently left the East Bay publication to head SF Examiner. It's all so... strange. And practically unbelievable. But there you have it.

We'll update as soon as we know more. Until then, we can classify it under the labels "rumor mill" and "OH MY GOD!"

Update: East Bay Express posted an update to their original story, noting: "San Francisco Bay Guardian Executive Editor Tim Redmond told the Express this afternoon that he's 'optimistic' the deal will be signed soon. 'I think we'll probably sign a deal, but it's not yet done.' "

Update II: Examiner president and CEO Todd Vogt seems doubtful. He tells SF Weekly: "Huh. That's very optimistic on their behalf...I've met [Guardian founding editor] Bruce Brugmann twice in my life. When I heard he might be interested in selling, that was one of the two times." He adds, "If Bruce and [his wife] Jean are gonna sell, we'd be interested."

Vogt also chatted with Joe Garofoli, pretty much saying the same thing.

Update III: Oh good heavens! SF Examiner editor and frequent internet commenter Stephen Buel sent us a lunatic email this morning, emphatically proclaiming our assumption as "bullshit." He writes, "I do not appreciate you 'assuming' that I was a source of Rachel’s story, which is utterly untrue and lazy as shit." SFist mildly regrets assuming that Buel, the former editor of the East Bay Express, would have done his alma mater the courtesy of the scoop in this story.