It’s over: Reports allege anti-Trump magazine ‘The Weekly Standard’ could soon close its doors

December 5, 2018

Conservative magazine The Weekly Standard may close down within a few weeks.

Led by anti-Trump conservative Bill Kristol, the Standard has long been a home of neoconservative opinion and, to its critics, a bastion of “elite” commentary. Emerald Robinson of One America News and CNN first reported rumors of its closure, which comes after the magazine hemorrhaged subscribers because of its opposition to President Donald Trump since he took office.

Never Trump magazine to shut down

Reports emerged on Tuesday that the Standard’s editor-in-chief, Stephen Hayes, told his staff that the future of the magazine is “uncertain” as a rift has grown between the magazine’s leaders and its publisher, MediaDC. MediaDC’s chairman has asked to meet with Hayes and the whole staff of the magazine sometime late next week.

Hayes and MediaDC previously agreed to let the magazine find a new owner, but a months-long search ended when MediaDC said it was no longer interested in selling the magazine.

At the crux of the magazine’s crisis seems to be a decision by its publisher to abandon the Never-Trump Standard in favor of expanding its other publication, the more Trump-friendly Washington Examiner. MediaDC’s parent company Clarity Media announced on Monday that the Washington Examiner’s weekly magazine would expand into a national publication with a broader editorial range, which was followed by an ominous statement on Tuesday that Clarity Media was “exploring possibilities” for the Standard.

“It is no secret that news organizations across the U.S. are dealing with an evolving business landscape. The Weekly Standard is dealing with these same issues,” Clarity Media said. “Clarity Media has been exploring a number of possibilities regarding the future of The Weekly Standard. At this time, Clarity does not have any news to share about its evaluation process.”

A report from the Daily Caller on Tuesday corroborated the notion that the Standard’s stridently anti-Trump editorial angle has something to do with its demise. Sources told the Daily Caller that they do not expect the site to make it past the new year, or even Dec. 14, because of a lack of funding as Clarity Media’s owner, billionaire Philip Anschutz, is apparently unhappy with the magazine’s direction.

Neoconservative magazine languishes after Trump

Launched in 1995 by co-founders Kristol and Fred Barnes, the Standard had been an influential publication for neoconservative opinion during George W. Bush’s presidency. But in recent months, its readership has diminished as its anti-Trump politics have left it out-of-step with the conservative base and the times.

The Standard strongly supported President George W. Bush but has been largely critical of his Republican successor. Kristol is personally no fan of the president and has publicly discussed putting together an anti-Trump political “war machine” to take him down in the 2020 primary.

If it closes down, the Standard will be remembered as an influential Bush-era magazine and a home to neoconservative pundits who cheered on the ill-fated Iraq War only to lapse into irrelevance under the crashing tide of the Trump movement in its final days. The Standard’s fate mirrors that of moderate Republican politicians like retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) as the conservative movement has shifted in a populist direction under the influence of President Trump, leaving “elite” Bush and moderate conservatives increasingly isolated.

Not quite left-wing, not quite conservative, the Never-Trump movement is struggling to find a target audience in an increasingly polarized political environment. The “Never-Trump” formula satisfies no political base in particular: to the left, “Never-Trumpers” are useful idiots who still carry the stigma of “conservatism,” while to the conservative base, the “principled” dissenters of the Never-Trump movement are little more than sell-outs to the left.

News of the magazine’s demise was met with dismay by some liberal writers and Never-Trump conservatives, who lamented the loss of a major source of token, anti-Trump “conservatism.”

But while the news is no cause for celebration, Trump supporters have few reasons to mourn the Standard. Conservatism is changing, and the political paradigms of yesteryear are no longer relevant.


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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.