Sunday, December 16, 2018

The end of The Weekly Standard

From Ace:

Weekly Standard Shuts Down

Take ownership of your failure, Bill, Steve, and John. You put people out of work for Christmas through a combination of ego, obsession, and heedless incompetence so rank it reaches the levels of true immorality.
Daniel McCarthy:

Don’t blame Trump for the demise of the Weekly Standard

If the Weekly Standard closes down by year’s end, as is widely expected and as Spectator USA first reported, the country will have lost one of its few remaining writer’s magazines. But for most people, the caliber of writing from Andrew Ferguson or Christopher Caldwell or Matt Labash is not what stands out about the Weekly Standard. Its reputation is tied to the Iraq War and to its founding editor’s reinvention of himself as the most acerbic NeverTrumper on Twitter. The latter has led the New York Times and other outlets to blame the closed-mindedness of conservatives toward criticism of Trump for the magazine’s demise.
John Podhoretz is on Twitter spinning a conspiracy theory blaming the death of TWS on some evil corporate minion who convinced Philip Anschutz to pass on the chance to make some money off the red-ink drenched magazine and to kill it outright as an act of pettiness and spite.

It’s about as plausible as most conspiracy theories. McCarthy is quite good on this point:

Allow me to offer some perspective as a former editor and longtime staffer for a conservative magazine that opposed a Republican president from its very beginning. The American Conservative was launched in 2002 because no other conservative magazine on the East Coast was willing to publish much criticism of George W. Bush or the Iraq War. The situation was considerably worse then for NeverBush conservatives than it is today for a NeverTrumper, not least because in 2002, George W. Bush and his foreign policy enjoyed wide support among elite liberals as well as Republicans.

President Trump and the conservatives who support him did not kill the Weekly Standard. Its flawed business model was the culprit.

His analysis of why killing TWS made business sense is on point so RTWT.

So we have two choices, it appears, when it comes to JPod’s dark fantasies. 1. After a half-century in the magazine business, he knows nothing about the economics of the industry or its business models. 2. He knows but is obscuring the truth to score points on behalf of his friends at TWS.

Ace is equally dismissive of Podhoretz’s desperate attempts to shift the blame away from Kristol, Hayes, et. al.

Isn't this part of the cycle of creative destruction of capitalism you defend and claim is central to conservative identitarianism? Wasn't the candidate you loved in 2012, Mitt Romney, a practitioner of just this sort of wring-inefficiencies-out-of-the-market-by-breaking-down-nonperforming-companies-and-selling-their-useful-parts capitalism?

You're not very good capitalists if you suddenly start whining "Oh no, capitalistic profit-seeking and inefficiency-eliminating hurts when it happens to you! No fair, no fair! Make the bad men stop!"

You guys can't talk like Gordon Gecko when it's someone else getting a pink slip but then whine like Michael Moore when it's you.

There are bad guys here -- but they're not Clarity Media, who kept this sinking ship afloat with bales of money for a long time.
Most Never Trump conservatives are more restrained than JPod and stick to two main themes. First, that the loss of TWS is a loss for intellectual diversity (a theme echoed by the MSM at large.) Second, as natural scolds, they make a big show of tone-policing those online conservatives who are gleefully spiking the football on the news. They proffer concern for those who have lost jobs right before Christmas. Unlike Ace, they concentrate their fire on people like Kurt Schlichter while ignoring those whose hubris and incompetence cost those people their jobs.

As Ace notes, there was not much concern from those quarters when Lee Smith and others lost jobs and platforms as a result of the NeverTrumpers scorched earth campaign to “rule or ruin” the conservative movement. Further, many of these conservative “leaders” who bemoan the unseemliness of celebrating Wm. Kristol’s epic fail were once giddy when they contemplated purging “Trumpers” after the 2016 election.

These “leaders” strike a pose of compassionate concern for TWS staffers. I doubt they would have done so to Trump supporters had Hillary won in 2016.

So, for these “conservative” “leaders” it just comes down to Lenin’s question: “Who, whom?”
As for “diversity of thought” let’s not forget how TWS alum David Frum handled criticism of Bush 43’s war of choice against Iraq. He did not debate critics like Robert Novak or The American Conservative. He declared them “Unpatriotic” and “defeatist.” His attacks on Novak were particularly shameless.

As Novak wrote in his memoirs:

Frum represents a body of conservative opinion that wants to delegitimize criticism from the Right of policy that has led to war against Iraq
Wm. Kristol, whom Novak thought was a friend, supported Frum and refused to defend Novak publically. He never spoke to Novak again and went so far as to side with Wilson and Plame in that long-ago imbroglio.

Note well, that the voices in the MSM decrying the loss of TWS and the resulting decline in diversity of opinions were not nearly so vocal when Kevin Williamson was tossed out by The Atlantic.

Let’s exit on this:

The Veiled Anti-American Sentiment Of Open Borders Politicians



djf said...

All political opinion magazines lose money, so that does not explain why WS is being shut down. The only logical explanation for shutting it down - whatever Bill Kristol's sins, it still had a great deal of important conservative reporting and analysis (although not perhaps sufficiently worshipful of Mr. Trump for some) - is that the owner wants to cannibalize the WS subscriber base for the Examiner (which also loses money, of course).

The reference to Ace of Spades, who morphed from someone threatening to support Hillary if Trump were nominated to someone who trashes anyone who criticizes Trump for anything as a "cuck" (with a liberal sprinkling of obscenities), is beneath you.

craig said...

I think McCarthy does a good job explaining why shifting the subscribers over to the Examiner magazine is an intelligent choice for TWS owners.

Whatever Ace's inconsistencies, they pale in comparison to the contortions of TWS writers in the Trump era. Plus, we now know that many of the "true conservatives" who wrote for TWS were never really conservative in the first place (Max Boot, David Brooks, David Frum).

djf said...

I read McCarthy's article. If both magazines are losing money (which is what political opinion magazines do), it explains nothing.

Ace is not inconsistent, he's just out for a buck. He was essentially a Never Trumper and ultimately switched to the crudest kind of enforcer of the Trump cult. I'm no fan of Bill Kristol, but I don't think questioning the masculinity of writers one disagrees with adds much to public debate. Nor do I see any upside to smearing everyone who notices Trump's faults as an open-borders crypto-progressive.

Frum and Brooks have not written much for WS for well over than a decade, though they may have remained on the masthead. Boot was more associated with Commentary than WS. I don't think their sins, or those of the now-unhinged Kristol, are a reason to rejoice over valuable writers like Ferguson, Caldwell and Terzian losing their jobs.

Redefining conservatism as blind loyalty to Trump may be a good way for online grifters to make a living but it is not an effective strategy for conserving anything.