Conservative Magazine The Weekly Standard Is Shutting Down

Editors had searched in vain for a buyer

Bill Kristol co-founded The Weekly Standard in 1995. Getty Images
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

The Weekly Standard is shutting down after 23 years in circulation, the publication’s parent company announced today.

The conservative magazine founded in 1995 by political writers Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes will publish its final edition on Dec. 17, according to a statement released by Clarity Media Group, owner of The Weekly Standard’s publisher, MediaDC.

“For more than 20 years, The Weekly Standard has provided a valued and important perspective on political, literary and cultural issues of the day,” Ryan McKibben, Clarity Media Group president and CEO, said in a statement. “The magazine has been home to some of the industry’s most dedicated and talented staff, and I thank them for their hard work and contributions, not just to the publication, but the field of journalism.”

McKibben said the decision to close the magazine was a financial one brought on by the unforgiving business landscape for media outlets around the country.

“Despite investing significant resources into the publication, the financial performance of the publication over the last five years—with double-digit declines in its subscriber base all but one year since 2013—made it clear that a decision had to be made,” McKibben said. “After careful consideration of all possible options for its future, it became clear that this was the step we needed to take.”

Staff members were informed on Friday morning that the magazine would shut down, according to CNN, and were told to clean out their desks by 5 p.m. Friday, according to Weekly Standard contributor John Podhoretz.

It’s unclear whether any Weekly Standard writers will move to other MediaDC publications like the conservative Washington Examiner. A spokesperson for MediaDC said there was no staffing information to share.

Hayes had been searching for a buyer for the publication after disagreements with MediaDC about its direction, according to recent media reports. MediaDC last week announced that the Washington Examiner would expand to a weekly publication, indicating to some onlookers that the Standard was on its last legs. A source told Vox earlier this month that MediaDC was “strip-mining” the publication for assets like its subscriber lists.

Hayes told staffers in an email to brace for the Friday morning meeting but that he was proud to have worked with them.

“This is a volatile time in American journalism and politics,” Hayes wrote in the memo, which was obtained by CNN. “Many media outlets have responded to the challenges of the movement by prioritizing affirmation over information, giving into the pull of polarization and the lure of clickbait. I’ll spare you the soapbox and the sanctimony. To put it simply: I’m proud that we’ve remained both conservative and independent, providing substantive reporting and analysis based on facts, logic and reason.”

Since its founding, The Weekly Standard had been an influential publication in conservative political circles, publishing news, opinion, analysis and essays largely from a neoconservative point of view. Under Hayes’ leadership, the publication had been critical of Donald Trump, both as a candidate and as president, drawing ire from some conservatives.

@kelseymsutton Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.