Billionaire Philip Anschutz’s DC Media is a parent to both the Trump-critical Weekly Standard and the pro-Trump Washington Examiner. It’s not surprising that they’re looking to expand the Examiner and shutter the Standard.
As Jim Antle, editor of The American Conservative, told Politico’s Jason Schwartz, “I think, in general, people don’t visit conservative websites and read conservative magazines to read that the president is terrible. So what do you do when your writers and editors have concluded the president is terrible?”
It’s a little different on the left. I can tell you from experience that it’s easier to get traffic on the left by trashing the Democratic Party and its leaders than it is to praise or defend them. But it’s still generally true that partisans are looking for some kind of orthodoxy from publications before they will consider them allies or recommended reading. The Weekly Standard has evidently run afoul of this principle, although there is some dispute over the exact cause of their demise. For me, it would be related to the fact that its founder Bill Kristol may be the most famously and reliably wrong person in America.
That’s not it, however.
And despite the Standard’s dwindling circulation, unnamed staffers told Vox’s Jane Coaston last night that the magazine’s closure would reflect corporate infighting more than untenable financial pressure (MediaDC, in any case, has deep pockets: its parent company is owned by the billionaire Philip Anschutz). As one source told Coaston, “This isn’t a natural death.”
Maybe there is an editorial reason for killing off the Standard. It could be that Mr. Anschutz has decided that displeasing the president isn’t a good investment. Someone should look into the possibility that some business of his or another is negotiating something important with the administration.
I won’t miss the Weekly Standard even a little bit, as I have never considered it an honest enterprise. I do understand the longing some people on the left have to find some decent interlocutors on the right, but God help them if they ever thought Stephen Hayes and Bill Kristol fit that bill.
It’d be nice if someone would pay right-leaning journalists to do honest work, but I’ve seen no evidence that that ever occurs. And since it doesn’t, there is no such thing as an honest debate on the issues between the left and right. If the Standard dies, nothing of real value will be lost and we can be grateful that they won’t use an opposition to Trump as a cover to advocate for the things that Neo-conservatives really care about, like permawar in the Middle East.