The Washington-based magazine’s 35-member editorial staff will be laid off as a result, said Ryan McKibben, the head of Clarity Media Group, the Colorado company that owns the Standard and its sister publication, the Washington Examiner.
“This was a business decision,” McKibben said. “As we looked at all of our options, we saw we were facing a steady decline in revenues and circulation. That drove us to our decision to close this week. . . . It was a tough decision.”
The magazine, which was founded in 1995 by veteran journalists Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol, former chief of staff to vice president Dan Quayle, and is now edited by Stephen Hayes, has been known for being aligned with the Bush administration’s neoconservative policies.
But more than 20 years later, the publication is not walking in step with the Republican in the White House very often. In fact, Kristol is regularly featured on cable news shows criticizing the impact of the Trump administration’s policies and the relationship (or lack of one) between the current president’s worldview and American conservatism historically.
To the tune of Tradition, from Fiddler on the Roof— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) November 29, 2018
Who, day and night, must scramble for a living,
Feed three wives and children, comb his daily hair?
And who has a right, as master of Trump Tower
To get some help from a foreign power?
And the magazine probably paid dearly for that in terms of interest.
The magazine’s publisher, MediaDC, also publishes the Washington Examiner, which is also conservative but is more regularly pro-Trump. It announced earlier this month it plans to expand its weekly magazine to reach a national audience, leaving the fate of the Weekly Standard in question.
McKibben said the new publication will launch Jan. 1: “Over the years, we’ve frequently been asked if individuals outside of the Beltway could subscribe to the publication. With this expansion and relaunch, our aim is for the new, national Washington Examiner to build on its position as a leader in providing a conservative perspective on the events of the day.”
Journalists and readers affiliated with conservative media like Fox News, the Federalist and Breitbart have regularly criticized the thinkers at the Weekly Standard as out of sync with Republican voters in 2018 and, at worst, no longer relevant.
I think you can make it at least a murder/suicide— Jim Hanson (@Uncle_Jimbo) December 14, 2018
Your boy Bill Kristol did everything he could to make it unpalatable to anyone w/o a serious case of #Trump hatred
I feel bad for the good people who got screwed, but not the leadership https://t.co/o0pfaLjEF0
This type of pushback was not surprising, given that Republicans are overwhelmingly supportive of the president — nearly 90 percent approve of Trump, according to Gallup. But most Americans do not support the ideas and policies coming out of this White House, which is in part why they overwhelmingly voted against Republicans in last month’s midterm elections.
A robust magazine for Republicans that operates as more than a rubber stamp on Trump’s ideas could theoretically sharpen conservatives' arguments and policies in ways that could be rare when intra-tribal debate is absent.
It also sends a message there may be no room for them in the GOP unless they are “true believers” — something that did not appear to be the case during the 2016 presidential campaign but increasingly seems to be true two years later.
The editor of the revised Washington Examiner promises a publication that highlights the diversity of thought within conservatism — a “big tent” approach.
Whether the work that conservative thinkers loved to read in the Weekly Standard will find a place in other publications is obviously to be determined. But what is clear is with this magazine’s shuttering, conservative media just got Trumpier, and that will likely affect how readers on the right view the world.