The End of the Weekly Standard
The Weekly Standard, the largest and most popular anti-Trump conservative journal of opinion in the country, was shut down today. Its final issue will come out on Monday. For Never-Trump conservatives (such as yours truly), it is a hard day.
Over at Commentary, John Podhoretz pulls no punches on what he calls the magazine’s “murder”:
That this is an entirely hostile act is proved by the fact that he and Anschutz have refused to sell the Standard because they want to claim its circulation for another property of theirs. This is without precedent in my experience in publishing, and I’ve been a family observer of and active participant in the magazine business for half a century.
… if Anschutz had been motivated by an unwillingness to bear the cost any longer, he could have sold the Standard. He chose not to. He chose to kill it.
The cessation of the Standard is an intellectual and political crime.
Stephen Hayes, the Standard‘s editor-in-chief, lamented what has happened in media generally (via CNN):
“This is a volatile time in American journalism and politics,” Hayes wrote. “Many media outlets have responded to the challenges of the moment by prioritizing affirmation over information, giving into the pull of polarization and the lure of clickbait.”
Hayes said it was a “profound honor” to work with The Weekly Standard’s staff, and added, “I’m proud that we’ve remained both conservative and independent, providing substantive reporting and analysis based on facts, logic and reason.”
He then added in this tweet: “TWS has provided an unapologetically and fiercely independent voice on American culture and public affairs. That voice is needed now more than at anytime in our previous 23 years.”
On a personal note, I would say this is probably my most difficult day as a self-described conservative Democrat — and there isn’t a Democrat anywhere in sight responsible. For those of us who were conservatives before Trump came along – and more importantly, held true to our views and beliefs while he attempted to redefine conservatism into an authoritarian personality cult — this is a figurative 2×4 to the head.
Of course, no magazine — or writer, for that matter — is indispensable. Many of us will still believe democracy is preferable to tyranny in the world at large, that it is in America’s interests to help democracies and oppose tyrannies, that trade barriers and other forms of isolation damage ourselves and our allies, that freer markets are better for America and for the world, and that government can be compassionate without being as colossal or as intrusive as it is presently. There was a time when all or nearly all conservatives agreed.
That time has clearly gone.
With apologies to David Frum, I must borrow and rework one of his more recent quotes to express a warning to the Trumpenproletariat among us: If Never Trump conservatives find that opposition to Trump is no longer compatible with conservatism, we won’t give up on opposing Trump.
We’ll give up on conservatism. Or, to be more precise, we’ll recognize conservatives have given up on us — and we’ll act accordingly.