The end of a competitor

Jim Geraghty of National Review:

If you want to gripe about William Kristol, fine; I have major beefs with folks who jump from anti-Trumpism to full-blown cheerleading for Democrats and abandoning their past views and positions on a wide variety of issues because of the rise of one particular political figure. But Kristol stopped editing The Weekly Standard back in December 2016, and he was always only one of many voices over there. If you’re cheering the demise of The Weekly Standard as a way of “getting” Kristol . . . one way or another, Kristol is going to be fine. Shutting down the Standard doesn’t punish Kristol. It punishes the John McCormacks, the Mark Hemingways, the Haley Byrds, the Rachel Larimores, all the folks in the art department, running the website, copy editors, the fresh-faced editorial assistants, ad-sales folks, and so on.

For those who argue that the Standard’s demise represents a triumph of the free market, note that almost no political magazine makes money. (My understanding is that National Review has done this twice. This is why it feels like we’re always asking for money. A broad base of small donors is more secure than being dependent upon one big one.) Advertisers are and probably always will be frightened of political magazines. If you want to run a profitable magazine, you probably make it look like Vogue, with lots of glossy pictures of models, showcasing the products of a luxury industry inclined to buy many pages of ads.

The Weekly Standard wasn’t much more or less profitable now than in previous years. If the money had simply run out, the story would be sad enough but common, for those of us who remember The American Enterprise, Policy Review, The Public Interest, the print version of Human Events and National Journal and when CQ and Roll Call were separate.

But in this case, there are claims that the owners of The Weekly Standard rebuffed inquiries from those interested in buying the magazine. They didn’t just want the financial loss taken off their hands; they allegedly wanted to eliminate a potential competitor for the relaunched Washington Examiner magazine. They closed it and laid off the entire staff, with little warning but plenty of ominous rumors, about a week before Christmas.

(Gee, it’s so hard to understand why employees are showing so little loyalty and respect to their employers, huh?)

The urge to see publications you disagree with fail is one step removed from censoriousness.

 

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