According to multiple reports on Wednesday, from One America News Network, CNN, the Daily Caller, and others, the veteran conservative magazine The Weekly Standard is expected to close down publication in the coming weeks.
Founded in 1995 by Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes, the magazine was intended as the preeminent publication for the discerning neoconservative. It immediately went into the trenches with chief competitor National Review and gained prominence during the George W. Bush administration; the magazine’s views on U.S. interventionism (among other topics) lined up perfectly with the post-9/11 Bush agenda.
The magazine appeared to stay successful during the Obama years, but things began looking sour with the rise of Donald Trump.
Kristol and most of his writers planted themselves firmly in the NeverTrump soil and never wavered for a moment. Unlike some of Trump’s early critics (including Ben Shapiro, several writers at National Review, Erik Erickson, Glenn Beck, and many more), Kristol could never look past Trump’s brusque exterior and his departure from Bush-era conservatism. Instead, he became one of the most outspoken Trump critics in conservative America, and he continued to promote those views…well, to this very day. So much so that he has floated the idea of challenging Trump in the 2020 primaries.
That attitude did wonders when it came to getting Kristol on cable news shows, but it didn’t do much for his flagship magazine. Trump’s presidential election put a decisive end to the split in the conservative movement, and his actual presidency dispelled most of the remaining NeverTrumpers. There was still an audience for reasoned, considerate conservative thinkpieces, but was there still an audience for Trump bashing within the conservative sphere? Not so much. And liberals weren’t about to start buying The Weekly Standard, of all things.
Now, sadly, it seems the chickens have come home to roost. CNN reported Wednesday that Weekly Standard Editor-in-Chief Stephen Hayes informed staff this week that the magazine’s future was “uncertain.” And every indication is that the magazine’s parent company, MediaDC, will shutter the publication in favor of expanding its other conservative property, the Washington Examiner.
“I don’t expect it to exist after December 14, 2018,” one editor told the Daily Caller. “There is no budget for it AT ALL.”
The Standard has published some outstanding conservative journalism/punditry over the years, so we can’t say we take any pleasure in seeing its demise. In fact, you have to give Kristol & Co. some grudging respect; they knew the conservative headwinds were against them, and they stayed the course nonetheless. We still think they missed the boat big-time when it comes to the Trump phenomenon, and we still think they’re dreadfully behind the times when it comes to where our country is at right now, but there’s something to be said for stubborn principle.
Unfortunately for them, only liberals are interested in NeverTrump conservatism in 2018. Maybe the New York Times is in the market for a few new writers.