The magazine folded last week after 23 years of existence. I have been surprised by the level of mourning that has been expressed in media circles at its death, when the right reaction should be rejoicing. All that one really needs to know to form a judgment as to the quality of this publication was that it was financed by Rupert Murdoch and its founding editor was Bill Kristol and the magazine accurately represented their interests. The fact that Kristol has now been welcomed into some liberal enclaves in the media because of his dislike of Trump is mystifying. Thankfully Jon Schwarz delivers the appropriate epitaph for this nasty and pretentious little rag.
Most famous for making the case for the catastrophic invasion of Iraq, the magazine was born just one year before Murdoch created Fox News. Both outlets were extremely effective at achieving the same goals via different tactics. Fox was chum for the rubes; the Weekly Standard was chum for Ivy League rubes. Fox pushed mindless belligerence, conspiracism and a deep hatred for reality; the Weekly Standard did the same thing, but with less cleavage and more quotes from Cicero. (In 2009 Murdoch sold it to Philip Anschutz, a fellow billionaire who if anything is more conservative than Murdoch.)
Put another way, Fox was the conservative movement’s amygdala, while the Weekly Standard was its cerebrum, both driving it forward until Trump’s election proved it no longer needed any higher brain functions. But together they played a powerful role in pushing the GOP to where it stands today.
Nonetheless, the Weekly Standard’s death has brought murmurs of ambivalent grief from more reputable corners of the media. The Atlantic says “‘The Weekly Standard’ Is Ending on a High Note.” According to Slate, “The Weekly Standard’s Dismantling Is Terrible News for Conservatism and Journalism.”
But ignore this. Anyone rational will dance joyously on the Weekly Standard’s grave. Yes, in this media climate it’s distressing to see any journalistic institution collapse, even ones that got Iraq completely wrong. Fortunately, the Weekly Standard was not a journalistic institution.
Schwarz lists the ten most appalling articles that it published in its brief existence, from cheerleading the Iraq war by publishing lies to ridiculing climate science to opposing same-sex marriage to warmongering against Iran. It also nurtured in its bosom people like Tucker Carlson, John Podhoretz, and Charles Krauthammer, the first of whom now hosts what is effectively the White Nationalist Hour on Fox News. So we should be glad that there is one less media training ground for right-wing warmongering racists and xenophobes.