The loss of the Weekly Standard

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The Murder of the Weekly Standard

In a 14 December 2018 commentary by the Weekly Standard‘s co-founder (John Podhoretz) in Commentary Magazine, a true insider explains the demise of what could have been a great conservative production. Bolding is mine for emphasis.

The Weekly Standard will be no more. There is no real reason we are witnessing the magazine’s demise other than deep pettiness and a personal desire for bureaucratic revenge on the part of a penny-ante Machiavellian who works for its parent company.

There would at least be a larger meaning to the Standard’s end if it were being killed because it was hostile to Donald Trump. But I do not believe that is the case. Rather, I believe the fissures in the conservative movement and the Republican party that have opened up since Trump’s rise provided the company man with a convenient argument to make to the corporation’s owner, Philip Anschutz, that the company could perhaps harvest the Standard’s subscriber-base riches and then be done with it.

That this is an entirely hostile act is proved by the fact that he and Anschutz have refused to sell the Standard because they want to claim its circulation for another property of theirs. This is without precedent in my experience in publishing, and I’ve been a family observer of and active participant in the magazine business for half a century.

The creation of the Weekly Standard was my proudest professional moment. When Bill Kristol and I conceived the magazine at the end of 1994, our purpose was to create a publication that would help guide and keep honest the hard-charging Republican party that had scored its stunning lopsided victory over Bill Clinton’s Democrats. This putative magazine would not cheerlead for Newt Gingrich’s Republicans, but instead represent the best thinking about how to lead the country through a new conservative era. We were criticized for not being part of the team from the get-go. Indeed, after the first issue came out in September 1995, a wag at a weekly meeting in Washington chaired by Grover Norquist handed out a parody of the Standard based on the precept that we had already gone off the reservation and weren’t being properly supportive of the Gingrich era.

The cessation of the Standard is an intellectual and political crime. I hope and expect its subscribers, tens of thousands of whom have been with the magazine since its very first day, will demand refunds rather than serve as passive participants in this act of politico-cultural murder. If you are a Standard subscriber but not yet a COMMENTARY reader, write to me at johnpodhoretz@commentarymagazine.com. Have I got a deal for you.

(Read more at Commentary Magazine)

I don’t celebrate the downfall of a conservative publication (since there have been some articles that I have applauded); however, when the Standard stood against first Gingrich and then Trump, they lost me.

I understand the importance of a good role model; however, I also believe in the both principles of forgiveness and of allowing the establishment of a track record. Yes, I admit that Trump started as a playboy — nothing I would want my son to emulate. However, his track record from the removal of EPA regulations to his appointment of conservative judges to his protection of Christians, Jews, and other groups has won my vote.

Blame Bill Kristol for the demise of the Weekly Standard

Don’t blame Trump for the demise of the Weekly Standard

Daniel McCarthy of the Spectator USA adds his voice to those explaining the death of a once-great conservative publication in a 14 December 2018 Spectator USA article.

If the Weekly Standard closes down by year’s end, as is widely expected and as Spectator USA first reported, the country will have lost one of its few remaining writer’s magazines. But for most people, the caliber of writing from Andrew Ferguson or Christopher Caldwell or Matt Labash is not what stands out about the Weekly Standard. Its reputation is tied to the Iraq War and to its founding editor’s reinvention of himself as the most acerbic NeverTrumper on Twitter. The latter has led the New York Times and other outlets to blame the closed-mindedness of conservatives toward criticism of Trump for the magazine’s demise.

Beyond that, however, think about the brand itself: in the public mind, the name Weekly Standard is associated with one thing that’s unpopular with almost everyone (the Iraq War), and another that’s unpopular with its formerly intended audience of conservatives (opposition to Trump). The person most identified with the brand is Kristol, by far. He stepped down as editor at the end of 2016, but his public persona still defines the magazine: his bitter, flippant, or sarcastic tweets about Trump and Trump supporters are the Weekly Standard’s brand in the public’s eye. Few people look at the masthead of a magazine closely enough to realize when a prominent editor such as Kristol has been replaced by a less prominent once such as Steve Hayes — and because Kristol remains on the masthead as editor-at-large, ordinary readers have even more cause for confusion. (‘Editor-at-large’ sounds a lot like ‘editor’ to most people, but in fact usually means ‘ex-editor.’)

(Read more at Spectator USA)

As I have said in certain forums, the Weekly Standard killed themselves by continually attacking those who would otherwise be loyal customers. In Gingrich‘s time as Speaker of the House, certainly no less than 2 or 3 articles per year were devoted to some mode of “conservative opposition.”

Similarly, now that Trump has established in the least a conservative voice in courts, you would think that the Standard would at least acknowledge his success. However, even with the business-friendly changes implemented by Trump, anyone can find the continually derisive comments and tweets, while none will likely find a complement of Trump.

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