The Weekly Standard magazine, one of cable news’ trustiest suppliers of traditional conservative voices, is shuttering. Publisher Clarity Media Group announced the closing this morning, drawing the ire of high-profile staffers and the disappointment of readers who stayed loyal to the 23-year-old publication throughout its recent never-Trump era.
The final print edition will be published Dec. 17.
While praising the magazine’s “dedicated and talented staff,” Clarity CEO Ryan McKibben said in a statement that the Weekly Standard “has been hampered by many of the same challenges that countless other magazines and newspapers across the country have been wrestling with,” and that despite “investing significant resources into the publication, the financial performance of the publication over the last five years — with double-digit declines in its subscriber base all but one year since 2013 — made it clear that a decision had to be made.”
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The decision didn’t sit well with John Podhoretz, who co-founded the magazine in 1995 with Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes and, like them, is a familiar face on cable news, opinion programs and networks including Fox, CNN, MSNBC and HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, providing a voice of conservative opposition to President Donald Trump.
“The murderers are Philip Anschutz and Ryan McKibben,” tweeted an angry and “heartbroken” Podhoretz (billionaire Anschutz, who owns Clarity, bought the Standard in 2009 from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation). “They could have sold the Weekly Standard. They refused to. Nothing like this has ever happened in my half-century of experience with publishing.”
See the tweets below.
Stephen Hayes, the magazine’s editor in chief, released a statement expressing his disappointment with the decision to close, noting that the Standard’s “unapologetically conservative and fiercely independent voice” is “needed now more than at anytime in our previous 23 years.”
While Hayes thanked Anschutz for backing the magazine for nine years, Podhoretz, a contributing editor to the magazine, fired off a series of irate tweets, and in a column for rival Commentary magazine suggested that the closure was prompted not by political issues but to allow the publishing company an opportunity to “harvest the Standard’s subscriber-base riches…”
“There would at least be a larger meaning to the Standard’s end if it were being killed because it was hostile to Donald Trump,” Podhoretz wrote. “But I do not believe that is the case. Rather, I believe the fissures in the conservative movement and the Republican party that have opened up since Trump’s rise provided the company man with a convenient argument to make to the corporation’s owner, Philip Anschutz, that the company could perhaps harvest the Standard’s subscriber-base riches and then be done with it.
“That this is an entirely hostile act,” continued Podhoretz, “is proved by the fact that [McKibben] 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.”
Kristol took a more sanguine “all good things” approach:
According to a CNN report, Weekly Standard employees have been informed that they’ll be paid through the end of the year, with the amount of subsequent severance depending on factors including seniority. CNN says the severance will be reliant on signing non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements, and that employees were instructed to clear out their desks by the end of today.
“Guess who isn’t getting severance,” Podhoretz tweeted, in response to CNN’s tweet that magazine staffers were told that social media posts could put severance in jeopardy.
Here are some various responses to the day’s news:
And for good measure:
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