The Weekly Standard, a primary voice of conservative Washington that found itself out of step with the Trumpward turn in the Republican Party, is ceasing publication after 23 years, its owners announced on Friday.
The cause of death was financial, ideological or personal, depending on who was doing the telling.
The magazine’s parent company, Clarity Media Group, cited a steep decline in subscriptions and revenues. But editorial leadership had clashed with ownership in some instances over its critical coverage of President Trump and the hard-right views of his defenders.
The Standard’s editor in chief, Stephen F. Hayes, pronounced himself “profoundly disappointed” by the decision on Friday to cease publication. The editor of Commentary magazine, John Podhoretz, who was a co-founder of The Standard in 1995, described the closing as a “murder” and “an entirely hostile act” perpetrated by malevolent owners.
Clarity Media, which is controlled by the billionaire conservative businessman Philip F. Anschutz, has devoted resources to The Washington Examiner, a publication that provides cozier coverage of the president. Talk of selling The Weekly Standard was floated, but the company decided against it.
At an all-hands meeting on Friday, the chief executive of Clarity Media, Ryan McKibben, disputed reports that the shutdown was related to the tenor of Trump coverage, instead citing poor financial performance, according to an attendee who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive conversations.
The attendee said it remained the overwhelming view of The Standard’s staff and leadership that Mr. Anschutz did not, in the end, want to own the leading Trump-skeptical publication in conservative media.
The acrimonious end was perhaps in keeping with a publication that was proudly heterodox from the start, eager to buck the prevailing values of conservative dogma and forge its own provocative point of view.
Started by Mr. Podhoretz and William Kristol, both scions of establishment conservative figures, The Weekly Standard offered an alternative to the National Review-led hegemony of right-wing publications. (The third founder, Fred Barnes, remains as executive editor; Rupert Murdoch initially provided financing.)
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SOURCE: NY Times, Michael M. Grynbaum and Jim Rutenberg