WTF MSM!? RIP The Weekly Standard?

· December 5, 2018  
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A photo of Bill Kristol at a Brookings event
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A sinking ship?

Days numbered … In the mid-nineties, at the height of the Clinton administration, Rupert Murdoch launched two right-leaning media enterprises. Predating Fox News by a year, The Weekly Standard was founded in 1995 by Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes, and John Podhoretz and funded by Rupert Murdoch. As of 2006, according to The New Yorker, the Standard was losing Murdoch over a million dollars a year.

After News Corp’s purchase of the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch sold The Standard to Clarity Media Group, which operated it under its MediaDC subsidiary. MediaDC also runs The Washington Examiner.  According to multiple reports, over the past year, tensions have grown between the NeverTrump leadership of the Standard and MediaDC. These reports mention that Standard leadership had been given a green light to work on finding a buyer for the magazine.

Oliver Darcy at CNN reports that MediaDC has decided to stop the sale, and a meeting is scheduled for late next week between MediaDC chairman Ryan McKibben and The Weekly Standard’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Hayes. The Daily Caller’s Joe Simonson reported that a Standard editor said, “There is no budget for [The Standard] at all.”

Things don’t look good.

An antagonistic tone … Not only has the editorial team at The Weekly Standard taken a decidedly NeverTrump tone – abandoning their previously held principles if Trump also holds them – they have been antagonistic towards others who were willing to give Trump a chance.  Standard writers held particular scorn for anyone who dared to be critical of their NeverTrump sacred cows such as Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.

In August 2017, Jonathan Last, a film critic and digital editor at The Weekly Standard, took Conservative Review and Mark Levin to task for daring to out Flake as something less than a conservative. The occasion was the publication of Flake’s book, “Conscience of a Conservative.”  After Media Research President Brent Bozell cited Flake’s “dismal” Liberty Score, Last tore into the Liberty Score and this publication. I responded:

Last saves his most egregious point for the end: “As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: Trumpism corrupts.” Conservative Review doesn’t stand for one politician or the other; it stands for timeless principles. Where those principles align with the rhetoric of a particular politician, it is wise to guide that politician to live up to those principles. If people find common ground with Trump on certain issues, does that make them, to use the pejorative, “Trumpkins?” Is it really conservative to stop believing in a principle just because someone you loathe also believes in it? If that is your position, is it not you who are a “cultist?”

Earlier this week, BlazeTV’s Steve Deace took an in-depth look on his program at how NeverTrumpism is now a cult, precisely because people like those at The Weekly Standard have abandoned principle for hatred.

The vitriol and condescension of those at The Weekly Standard toward their fellow conservatives may have become its undoing.

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Praise from the Left … The media always finds useful tools in conservatism who are willing to criticize their fellow conservatives. During the Trump administration, The Weekly Standard has played that part. It’s unsurprising that voices from the mainstream media and outright leftist media are offering praise to the publication as it faces its uncertain future.

CNN media critic/cheerleader Brian Stelter called the publication “treasured” in his media email Tuesday night.  Mother Jones CEO Monika Baurelein called it “terrible news,” then back-handedly attacked other publications. For other reactions, read this piece from the Columbia Journalism Review that outlines what others in the liberal media are saying.

Writing on the wall? … While it seems that The Weekly Standard’s days are numbered, MediaDC’s other publication, the Washington Examiner, is set to expand into a nationally distributed magazine. Contrary to Brian Stelter’s sources, the Examiner is not a rabidly pro-Trump publication. But it’s not a reflexively NeverTrump one, either.

Time will tell, but it’s easy to see that MediaDC could rebrand The Weekly Standard magazine as The Washington Examiner and use the existing subscriber base as a way to give the new magazine a head-start.

Final thoughts on the matter … It’s important to remember that real people’s livelihoods will be affected if the publication shuts down. It’s especially hard during the holiday season.

Despite differences, conservatives should rally behind the issues that unite us and push forward on them together. That’s the message Blaze Media’s Glenn Beck sent when CRTV and TheBlaze joined forces this week. He said, “There is no boss man here” and was excited that BlazeTV hosts don’t “walk in lockstep.

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I can’t fight back alone against the mainstream media. I need your help. There are two ways you can help. First, send your friends – and even your enemies – over to the WTF MSM!? email subscription page and get them sign up. Second, email me at with anything questionable you see the media do. Together, we can fight back.


Author: Rob Eno

Rob Eno is the editor of Blaze Media’s WTF MSM!? newsletter.