Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Substandard: The End of an Illusion (Weekly Standard sold at fire sale)
Chronicles Magazine ^ | July 29, 2009 | Thomas Fleming

Posted on 07/29/2009 5:03:27 PM PDT by AAABEST

The sale of The Weekly Standard should put paid to any lingering illusion that the neoconservative empire was anything but a Potemkin Village. Whatever happens from this point on, the news of Rupert Murdoch’s repudiation of his ugliest stepchild is as refreshing a pick-me-up as the morning’s second Bloody Mary I am enjoying, anchored off Spetzai on the Bushido with Chronicles’ incomparably hospitable columnist, Taki. The only thing needed to make my happiness complete would be for the boys of National Review to take the hint and sell out for oh, maybe $2 million. Allegedly, Murdoch sold the magazine for $1 million to Phillip Anschutz, the billionaire owner of The Clarity Media Group. I say allegedly because the price is either much too high or much too low. Too high, because only a fool would pay so much money for a property that does nothing but lose money without adding a glimmer of insight to political discussion in America. Too low, because if The Weekly Standard actually did enjoy the influence that its editors have been so loudly and insistently claiming, $50 million would not be nearly enough.

Murdoch sunk untold millions of his ill-gotten gains into TWS. I suppose that is the proper shorthand, since the “The Standard” properly means the Evening Standard–it’s funny that for all its supposed influence, the magazine does not have a well-known acronym or nickname. Not long ago they were claiming a “growing circulation” of 60,000, and that may well be the case—though no one should ever accept anything an editor says about circulation. I won’t embarrass the editors of certain of our competitors who have made wildly inflated claims that were punctured as soon as we began negotiating for their mailing lists. In typical editorial bull-speak, the Standard misleads would-be advertisers with this classic canard: “More than 65,000 politically active Americans nationwide receive the magazine each week.” Receive. That is like the Hillsdale newsletter Imprimis which claims I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of “readers.” I don’t think I have ever met anyone who actually read Imprimis. The hard part actually, if you have ever been anyone in the conservative “movement,” is not receiving it. I’d ask them to take my name out of their computer, but that would be like unsubscribing to spam: It only makes your name a more valuable commodity to be included on the list of refuseniks who don’t want this propaganda defiling their mailbox.

When TWS was around 40,000, I heard from a well-placed and reliable source that Murdoch told them he would pull the plug, if they failed to reach 100,000. If the editors had sacrificed some small part of their salary and benefits, they might have had enough money to build up the circulation to a level acceptable to their master. If they had just cut down on some of the face paint they slathered on for their Fox News appearances, they could have paid for an additional 5000 subscribers at least. (Joke supplied by Taki—don’t blame me.) But The Weekly Standard was never about anything else but the income and ego-gratification of its editors, and this is the result. That slow sucking sound you hear all the way from New York is the credibility of Kristol and co. going down the drain.

Chronicles has never enjoyed the support of a billionaire publisher, and our annual losses must be miniscule in comparison with the Murdoch money Kristol has wasted, but even our piddling operation loses about $600,000 every year, and that money has to be made up with our semi-annual begging appeals. Nobody would offer us more than the token single dollar for Chronicles, but, if we had to sell, a fair price for our assets would be about $7 million. (Any wealthy donor or potential donor who wants to dispute the price is free to call me and discuss the fat pledge he is about to make. As they say in poker, you have to pay to see.) For Anschutz, a million is the equivalent of the buck it takes to seal a contract. It’s a rich man’s walking around money, in other words chump change. If you listen to Frum, Kristol, and Barnes, though, TWS has been the brains of the American Empire, but it went on the block for a lousy million. Some brains! Some empire!

I once told Pat Buchanan that Bill Kristol had declared him politically dead in the pages of TWS. “That guy,” Pat snorted, “he never gets anything right.” Unlike the stopped clock that is correct twice a day, the Standard’s editors have never got anything right, from weapons of mass destruction to the presidential aspirations of Steve Forbes to “John McCain’s Moment” that Bill Kristol was proclaiming last September. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that the few times I met Bill, I found him polite and friendly, and he is reported to have saved me from a dressing down in Congress. As Tessio tells Tom Hagen in The Godfather, this is nothing personal, just business. And in this business we have chosen, TWS has never contributed anything to American political commentary. When they are right, it is because they are saying what everyone else has been saying, and, when they are original or distinctive, they are wrong.

But, as the Frum declared in an interview, The Standard has influence. Do they really? Is it influence to run after a parade, shouting, “Me too, me too” and then claim not only to lead the parade but to have started it? It would not be so bad if their platitudinous conventional wisdom were at least some form of knee-jerk conservatism or capitalist greed, but it is neither. Bill’s father Irving (popularly known as “the godfather”), was famous for giving “two cheers for capitalism.” (They can’t even be clever without imitating someone, in this case E.M. Forster). But Irving’s politics have only evolved from his original Trotskyism to a cross between Swedish socialism and Taiwan’s state capitalism. The amiable dimwit Fred Barnes spilled the beans, as he so often does, when he called for big government conservatism. Fred was not quite bright enough to realize that he was uttering a contradiction in terms, and The Weekly Standard’s ideology is, at best, New Republic lite—an insipid brew that neither cheers nor inebriates.

TWS’s not-so-secret weapon was neither its ideology nor its “writers,” but Murdoch himself. It’s like the old Henny Youngman joke about the man who crossed a lion with a parrot.

“What does he say?”

“I don’t know, but when he talks I listen.”

Murdoch is not only a very powerful man, whose whims have to be catered to, but he also owns major newspapers and two television networks. Who would listen to Kristol’s platitudes—as poorly expressed as they are predictable—if he and his editors were not trotted out to tell their lies on Fox News?

The Weekly Standard did only two things. On the positive side, it provided a living for writers who cannot write and political intellectuals without intellect, but it also contributed to the senile dementia that has afflicted the conservative mind since the election of Ronald Reagan. Bill Kristol did not destroy conservatism all by himself. His father was a much more destructive force, but it would be a grave mistake to attribute too much blame to the Kristols and Podhoretzes. They were welcomed with open arms by the unprincipled leadership of the conservative movement. Parasites do not generally destroy a healthy organism. Of course, there were still good people working for Heritage, in the 1980’s, and writing for National Review, but the lightning success of the neoconservative Putsch was as revealing as Hitler’s Anschluss (the annexation of Austria that met with so little resistance.)

No one knows, exactly, what Philip Anschutz (#89 on Forbes’ list of the richest people in the universe) will decide to do with The Weekly Standard. His Examiner newspapers are roughly neocon, though somewhat to the left of TWS. Despite the denatured versions of the Narnia books he produced, Anschutz is said to be some kind of Christian conservative. If that were true, it ought to be bad news for the anti-Christian Israel-firsters at TWS. Unfortunately, conservative Evangelicals are the most loyal Likudniks who have ever goose-stepped behind Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu. Kill off all the Middle Eastern Christians, who have survived Arabi and Israeli terrorism, and they would not utter a peep, but just hint at something less than 110% support for Israel, and they’ll call you an anti-Semite. It was shortly after Anschutz started the Washington Examiner that someone called Dave Mastio slurred Sam Francis in its pages. For the time being, he may be perfectly comfortable with Kristol—until he notices how much money he is losing and gives TWS the same treatment he gave the Baltimore Examiner, which he shut down.

Whatever happens, Anschutz has already done us a big favor in revealing the low low price of the emperor’s new clothes. Ever since Obama’s election, the conservative chatter has been all about new ideas and new strategies, but the very fact that they are saying this shows how bankrupt the conservatives really are. With this set of rookies heading for the showers, perhaps a few remaining veterans might come out of hiding and show us some of the stuff they had when they won the pennant in 1980. Perhaps, but probably not. Still, this is no time to stifle our joy. As Horace wrote after Octavian’s victory at Actium, where he defeated those paragons of greed and ambition, Antony and Cleopatra, “Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus,” lines which an American poet of my generation translated as “I’ll just stay here and drink.”


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: anschutz; barnes; goinggoinggone; kristol; meeklystandard; murdoch; neoconragdefeated; neocons; phillipanschutz; weaklystandard; weeklystandard
Nicely written article.

I so enjoy watching the neocon enterprise crashing in on itself, that I wonder if I'm enjoying it to the point of sin.

1 posted on 07/29/2009 5:03:27 PM PDT by AAABEST
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

I never cared for the Weakly Standard. But they are certainly a step above the ass clowns at American Conservative and Lew Rockwell.


2 posted on 07/29/2009 5:07:00 PM PDT by pissant (THE Conservative party: www.falconparty.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

I get the impression that this is a diatribe by a partisan of the People’s Front of Judea condemning the Judean People Front.


3 posted on 07/29/2009 5:08:33 PM PDT by buwaya
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

Largely a RINO mag and sadly National Review becamne RINO when Bill Buckley died.

The NR died the other day when they attacked me as a “birther.”


4 posted on 07/29/2009 5:12:26 PM PDT by Frantzie (Lou Dobbs - American Hero!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

I read Imprimis and I love my National Review..so stick that in your pipe and smoke it.


5 posted on 07/29/2009 5:12:57 PM PDT by DeusExMachina05 (I will not go into Dhimmitude quietly.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST
It was tough to listen to the supposed "conservative" element of Britt Hume's World Famous panel every night on Special Report. Fred Barnes and Rat Boy Kristol are pathetic. The two of them simply gave up about two months before the election and started carrying 0's water.

Never liked the the WS, primarily because of the two conservative editors.

I can live without the rag.

6 posted on 07/29/2009 5:13:36 PM PDT by skimbell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST
I once told Pat Buchanan that Bill Kristol had declared him politically dead in the pages of TWS. “That guy,” Pat snorted, “he never gets anything right.”

Sure, Pat. Your political career is deader than a cat that tried to run across I-95 in rush hour. And for darn good reason.

I'm not much of a fan of Kristol, but I'll listen to him before I listen to a anti-Semetic loon like Pat (and I defended Pat against the charges of anti-Semetism until the evidence Pat himself provided proved otherwise).

7 posted on 07/29/2009 5:14:07 PM PDT by dirtboy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

That’s a nicely written article?

It’s overripe, delusional twaddle. This guy writes for a living? I can scarcely believe it!


8 posted on 07/29/2009 5:19:25 PM PDT by agere_contra
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

What the hell is “Imprimis”?


9 posted on 07/29/2009 5:20:02 PM PDT by GoldStandard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

Well, Dr. Fleming, at least there was a buyer for The Weekly Standard. Would Chronicles Magazine find a buyer at all? Isn’t it a kept lady, the pet of a passle of philanthropists? It surely doesn’t pay it’s own way now, does it? Who’s your Rupert Murdoch sugar daddy?

Something about glass houses and stones comes to mind.


10 posted on 07/29/2009 5:21:35 PM PDT by Houghton M.
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

Never heard of this author. Frankly, I think he can shove it.

I didn’t care for Kristol fawning over McLame either, but for the couple years I subscribed to TWS I enjoyed it.

This guy is a hater.


11 posted on 07/29/2009 5:22:38 PM PDT by Recovering_Democrat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

mark


12 posted on 07/29/2009 5:24:06 PM PDT by nkycincinnatikid
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: buwaya

“I get the impression that this is a diatribe by a partisan of the People’s Front of Judea condemning the Judean People Front.”

**SNORT**


13 posted on 07/29/2009 5:27:12 PM PDT by Bean Counter ( Shovel ready...)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Frantzie
The NR died the other day when they attacked me as a “birther.”

NR died last year when they showed Obama on nearly every cover during the election season.

14 posted on 07/29/2009 5:28:53 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ("Media: quit making things up." --Sarah Palin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: DeusExMachina05

Yep, I read Imprimus also, and know others who do.


15 posted on 07/29/2009 5:29:33 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ("Media: quit making things up." --Sarah Palin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: GoldStandard
Here you go: Imprimis
16 posted on 07/29/2009 5:31:23 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ("Media: quit making things up." --Sarah Palin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

A bad Business model for printed paper news is a bad Business model for everyone.....be it the LA TIMES...NY TIMES....or the Weekly Standard.....Seattle Post Intell.....etc...
Some fold before others.....the higher the Circulation base the longer it takes. Others will follow.
It seems you enjoy the inevitable, just wait for Obama’s fall, it will be priceless.


17 posted on 07/29/2009 5:32:44 PM PDT by 4Speed
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

Well this is a nice mish mash of nastiness...Anyone who hates neo cons hates the cons as much as the neos.

Now pick up your pitchfork and follow Pat off a cliff


18 posted on 07/29/2009 5:34:45 PM PDT by woofie
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST
Wow. I'd never fall into line with someone who writes in bile instead of ink.

The Weekly Standard has provided some very useful articles on conservative issues. I remember in particular a series on Habitat for Humanity that revealed some serious weaknesses in the organization.

That article helped me save a neighborhood that was under threat from a very badly conceived development. Definitely worth the price of admission.

19 posted on 07/29/2009 5:38:08 PM PDT by GVnana (Sarah for America)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

I don’t have a candle going at this funeral, but your post sounds like it was written by someone who had a number articles rejected by the WS.


20 posted on 07/29/2009 5:42:00 PM PDT by La Lydia ( Enoch Powell was right.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST
Nicely written article.

He started on his second Bloody Mary, finished at his eighth, and had another six while he edited.

Mr. Fleming should try some pot next time. It'll make less of a mess on his counter and on his page.

21 posted on 07/29/2009 5:54:06 PM PDT by WhistlingPastTheGraveyard
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: La Lydia

The article come from “Chronicles Magazine”

They are the Paleos, anti war, anti semitic,
They live in their bunkers with their eyes closed.
and of no good use to society.


22 posted on 07/29/2009 5:54:57 PM PDT by SoCalPol (Reagan Republican for Palin 2012)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

A decade ago I read some diatribe in the MSM against Free Republic. So I checked FR out and I’ve been here ever since.
The same thing happened with “Chronicles” and I became a subscriber. I also subscribe to NR but never to TWS. Of the three, if I had to give one up, it would be NR.


23 posted on 07/29/2009 6:05:55 PM PDT by Malesherbes (Sauve Qui Peut)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: buwaya

LMAO. Nailed it!


24 posted on 07/29/2009 6:10:25 PM PDT by NonValueAdded (What if the Sanction of the Victim is withdrawn?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST
Thanks for posting this. This is a subject that has not been covered very much.

Fleming describes Anschutz as a Christian Conservative, which is a understatement, since Anschutz is one of the primary financial backers of the Discovery Institute(Intelligent Design).

My own take on this is that Anschutz wants to create a winning coalition of neocons and theocons to conquer the GOP, the nation, and the world.

25 posted on 07/29/2009 6:20:03 PM PDT by Ben Ficklin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Albion Wilde

Hey, thanks for the link!

I never heard of Imprimis before now, either.
and that college looks interesting, as well.
FR is a great place to learn - thanks!


26 posted on 07/29/2009 6:30:15 PM PDT by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: bill1952

I get Imprimus too and enjoy alot of the articles. And I just saw Hillsdale is one of the top 10 conservative universities in the country.


27 posted on 07/29/2009 6:38:23 PM PDT by Fu-fu2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST
as refreshing a pick-me-up as the morning’s second Bloody Mary I am enjoying, anchored off Spetzai on the Bushido with Chronicles’ incomparably hospitable columnist, Taki.

Don't be so modest Thomas, it's obvious that you're feeling, thinking and writing in a much more 'refreshed' state than is possible with only two Bloody Marys.

28 posted on 07/29/2009 9:03:30 PM PDT by RJL
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

For all the “Who the hell even reads TWS” snotty attitude this dude has, at least I’ve heard of the Weakly Standard. WTF is Chronicles magazine?


29 posted on 07/29/2009 9:25:21 PM PDT by mbennett203 ("Bulrog, a tough brute ninja who has dedicated his life to eradicating the world from hippies.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: bill1952

You’re very welcome!

:-)


30 posted on 07/29/2009 9:58:38 PM PDT by Albion Wilde ("Media: quit making things up." --Sarah Palin)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: All
Chronicles is okay. They remind me of the Conservative Chronicle we used to get prior to the internet age that had most of the conservative columnists weekly writings.

But dancing on the grave of the WS just looks petty. I'm no neocon, but I met both Irving and Bill Kristol and both gentlemen were infinitely kind to me. Back in the eighties the only three publications that were behind President Reagan were the National Review, the American Spectator, and Commentary Magazine.

I'm one of the Christians Buchanan and others bash for supporting Israel. I don't apologize for that.

31 posted on 07/29/2009 10:57:22 PM PDT by Luke21
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

I liked this article, especially that description that TWS mostly just went along with everyone else, but when they didn’t they were wrong.


32 posted on 07/29/2009 11:10:32 PM PDT by Plutarch
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: GoldStandard
Imprimis is a monthly publication from HIllsdale College.

It's pretty good.

33 posted on 07/30/2009 5:43:18 AM PDT by Tribune7 (I am Jim Thompson!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: GVnana
The WS has good articles but it also has a smarmy, I-wanna-show-I'm-smart side that can be pretty annoying.

My favorite is the American Spectator.

The National Review has slipped a lot since Buckley died.

34 posted on 07/30/2009 5:46:00 AM PDT by Tribune7 (I am Jim Thompson!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

I don’t read the Weekly Standard, so I don’t know if its demise would be good or bad. But all I can gleam from this piece is that the Weekly Standard sold for $1 million, and that the author would say, “I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! I hate it!”

The piece’s language is so invective, I instinctively question its characterizations, and it’s nearly devoid of objective facts to support its characterizations.


35 posted on 07/30/2009 9:11:25 AM PDT by dangus (I am JimThompson)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: AAABEST

Bookmarked for good account of recent paleo vs neo/theo history.

Some of the best grave dancing and spitting I’ve ever witnessed.

Save me a spot on Taki’s next cruise!

“It would not be so bad if their platitudinous conventional wisdom were at least some form of knee-jerk conservatism or capitalist greed, but it is neither. Bill’s father Irving (popularly known as “the godfather”), was famous for giving “two cheers for capitalism.” (They can’t even be clever without imitating someone, in this case E.M. Forster). But Irving’s politics have only evolved from his original Trotskyism to a cross between Swedish socialism and Taiwan’s state capitalism. The amiable dimwit Fred Barnes spilled the beans, as he so often does, when he called for big government conservatism. Fred was not quite bright enough to realize that he was uttering a contradiction in terms, and The Weekly Standard’s ideology is, at best, New Republic lite”

OUCH!!!

“The Weekly Standard did only two things. On the positive side, it provided a living for writers who cannot write and political intellectuals without intellect, but it also contributed to the senile dementia that has afflicted the conservative mind since the election of Ronald Reagan. Bill Kristol did not destroy conservatism all by himself. His father was a much more destructive force, but it would be a grave mistake to attribute too much blame to the Kristols and Podhoretzes. They were welcomed with open arms by the unprincipled leadership of the conservative movement. Parasites do not generally destroy a healthy organism. Of course, there were still good people working for Heritage, in the 1980’s, and writing for National Review, but the lightning success of the neoconservative Putsch was as revealing as Hitler’s Anschluss (the annexation of Austria that met with so little resistance.)”

OH SNAP!!!


36 posted on 09/14/2009 10:06:38 PM PDT by Palin Republic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson