The Jury Talks Back

12/15/2018

President Trump: Good Riddance To The Weekly Standard

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 6:39 pm

[guest post by Dana]

What sad news to learn that The Weekly Standard is no more:

The Weekly Standard went out of business on Friday—killed by right-wing Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz, who purchased the respected 23-year-old conservative journal from its original owner, Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp, in 2009, for a reported $1 million.

“We are done,” Stephen F. Hayes, the Standard’s editor in chief, told his staff of nearly 40 Friday morning, after a brief meeting with executives of Anschutz’s Clarity Media Group in Washington, D.C.

Employees had their company email abruptly cut off on Friday; on Thursday, editors toiling to finish the final issue—which was emailed to an estimated 110,000 subscribers on Friday and will be circulated in a last print edition dated Dec. 17—had trouble gaining access to the Weekly Standard computer server, according to an email circulated among the staff.

There have been suggestions in the blogosphere that the publication will killed because of its anti-Trump tilt. However, that might not be accurate:

Some are suggesting the magazine — which shared parent ownership with The Post for its first 14 years — was killed for being too critical of President Trump. But none of our sources are buying that claim.

After all, as John Podhoretz, who co-founded the magazine with Bill Kristol, notes, not being a team player was always part of The Weekly Standard’s DNA.

And that was deliberate: “Our loyalty was to the ideas in which we believed,” he writes, “not to the Republican Party.” In that respect, it provided a vital platform for trenchant and incisive conservative opinionizing, as well as important hard-news reporting, feature writing and biting satire.

It’s also not definitively clear whether the publication was shuttered due to personal reasons or the result of a shrewd business decision:

The magazine’s owner, Clarity Media Group, is shifting subscriptions to the magazine version of another of its products, The Washington Examiner. But insiders doubt boosting the Examiner was truly sufficient reason not to just sell the Standard, and suggest a personal vendetta is at work.

Interestingly:

Murdoch patiently funded their magazine for 14 years, and it garnered praise for editorial excellence even as it consistently lost money—between $2 million and $4 million a year, according to a source familiar with the figures.

The magazine continued to lose similar amounts under Anschutz’s ownership, which didn’t prevent the billionaire from authorizing hires of new staff in the past two years before apparently losing enthusiasm.

Ironically, the Washington Examiner—the principal beneficiary of The Standard’s demise—is said to be even more unprofitable. Representatives of Clarity Media Group didn’t respond to a phone message seeking comment.

According to one reporter, Clarity’s CEO was a total jerk in a meeting wtih the newly unemployed:

I obtained audio of today’s staff meeting where Clarity Media Group announced the closure of The Weekly Standard. Clarity’s CEO told employees, “Don’t get on social media and attack anybody because it will put your severance in jeopardy”

Honestly, I really don’t know the real reason for TWS shutting down. What I do know is that there are now a number of talented writers currently out of work. And, that the closing of the publication comes in the midst of the Christmas season makes it even worse. Whether a publication swings left or right, we should root for their existence, and hope that they publish challenging and thoughtful pieces. Pieces that either confirm your positions held, or are so substantial and provocative that they become mini-revelations compelling readers to reconsider what they think about an issue. As far as the conservative point-of-view is concerned, it really is a blow to have one less voice extolling conservative principles and ideals. Even if one hasn’t agreed with everything put out by TWS, there is little doubt that they have always produced interesting, complex and challenging material. One’s mind can be sharpened in so many ways. I’m hoping and praying that these writers find work soon, and are able to once again be a public voice for the conservative movement.

With that, I was horrified to see the President of the United States attack The Weekly Standard after its closure was announced:

Untitled

W.T.F.!! Our president is happy to see a conservative publication shuttered, and its employees losing their jobs. Because he is so damn petty, vindictive, thin-skinned, and unable to rise above any criticism, he couldn’t just keep his yap shut but instead viciously rubbed salt in the wound of unemployed Americans who are now trying to figure out their next move. What an outrageous thing to do because you don’t like what was said about you. Boo-hoo, you big fat baby. Only a self-centered pustule of a human being would stoop so low. That he is our sitting president makes it worse. And what is so utterly ridiculous is that he doesn’t seem to realize that *he is* the sitting president. He won the election. None of Kristol’s preferred candidates won. This insipid man-child has yet again diminished his position by his behavior, and he has cast immense doubts on any claims made that he is concerned about unemployment in this country, and the livelihood of Americans. There is absolutely no excuse for this. There is also absolutely no defense that can be made on his behalf. He is a grown man, he owns his imbecilic behavior.

#BeBest, my ass.

–Dana

6 Comments »

  1. Anchutz is an interesting fellow. Sometimes he seems to let his emotions drive decisions, even important ones. I can’t help but wonder if this is about emotion more than reason, let alone principles.

    For instance, Anchutz wants us to think bought the Broadmoor because he feel in love with it at the age of 5 and boasted at 10 he would someday buy it. (I, too, have loved the Broadmoor since I was a child. IMO his stewardship has hurt a fine hotel. The service now is poor. and service used to be one of its hallmarks.)

    Comment by DRJ — 12/16/2018 @ 8:16 am

  2. But, in fairness, he has a history of buying media and pruning employees, so maybe this is just about money for him. It is callous to do it at Christmas.

    Comment by DRJ — 12/16/2018 @ 8:26 am

  3. Supposedly there was a buyer but he killed any possibility of a sale.

    Comment by Patterico — 12/16/2018 @ 9:19 am

  4. David Brooks, who was on TWS staff at one time, paints a dark picture of an intentional killing off of the publication, done to inflict the most pain possible:

    I’ve only been around Phil Anschutz a few times. My impressions on those occasions was that he was a run-of-the-mill arrogant billionaire. He was used to people courting him and he addressed them condescendingly from the lofty height of his own wealth.

    I’ve never met Ryan McKibben, who runs part of Anschutz’s media group. But stories about him have circulated around Washington over the years. The stories suggest that he is an ordinary corporate bureaucrat — with all the petty vanities and the lack of interest in ideas that go with the type.

    This week, Anschutz and McKibben murdered The Weekly Standard, the conservative opinion magazine that Anschutz owned. They didn’t merely close it because it was losing money. They seemed to have murdered it out of greed and vengeance.

    John Podhoretz, one of the magazine’s founders, reports that they actively prevented potential buyers from coming in to take it over and keep it alive. They apparently wanted to hurt the employees and harvest the subscription list so they could make money off it. And Anschutz, being a professing Christian, decided to close the magazine at the height of the Christmas season, and so cause maximum pain to his former employees and their families.

    If so, this is just extremely vicious. That Anschutz claims to be a person of faith makes it worse. From Wiki:

    Anschutz supported the Parents Television Council, a group that protests against alleged television indecency.[47] He also financed and distributed films with Christian themes for mass audiences (through his two film production companies and ownership of much of the Regal, Edwards and United Artists theater chains) such as Amazing Grace and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.[citation needed] He financed The Foundation for a Better Life. In 2009 Anschutz purchased the conservative American opinion magazine The Weekly Standard from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.[48] In 2010, he financed the pro-charter school film, Waiting for Superman.[49] In 2012, he financed the pro-parent trigger film, Won’t Back Down.[50]

    Anschutz reportedly donated to conservative causes and groups which are openly anti-gay, anti-transgender, and pro-life.[51] He responded to the reports by saying, “Neither I nor the Foundation fund any organization with the purpose or expectation that it would finance anti-LGBTQ initiatives, and when it has come to my attention or the attention of the Anschutz Foundation that certain organizations either the Foundation or I have funded have been supporting such causes, we have immediately ceased all contributions to such groups.” [52] Anschutz contributed $1,000,000 to conservatives during the 2016 U.S. elections, including pro-life and pro-gun candidates, and $200,000 to Republican politicians and political action committees during the 2017 off-year elections.[53] In 2018 he donated $1 million dollars to support the Elton John AIDS Foundation LGBT Fund.[54]

    Comment by Dana — 12/16/2018 @ 10:34 am

  5. From the start — despite claims to the contrary — there was doubt that Anschutz expected his DC media interests to make money, and they haven’t. It is about his political agenda, which strikes me as more GOPe or libertarian than conservative. (I bet Glenn Reynolds approves of the way Anschutz uses culture like Coachella/Beyonce to reach his target audience.) I suspect The Weekly Standard doesn’t advance his message anymore and he doesn’t want it sold because he doesn’t want to see its message continued.

    Comment by DRJ — 12/16/2018 @ 3:42 pm

  6. I know from experience that some rich men justify laying off employees before Christmas because they don’t want them spending a lot of money at Christmas that they can’t afford when they will be laid off the next week. This is bunk. They could lay them off in March or July, especially when the business has been losing money for a decade. The main reason they do this in December is for tax purposes.

    Comment by DRJ — 12/16/2018 @ 3:54 pm

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