Death of the Standard: A personal note [with concurrence by Paul]

I was a charter subscriber to the Weekly Standard in 1995 and have kept up my subscription ever since. Founded by Bill Kristol, Fred Barnes and John Podhoretz, the Standard delivered smart journalism produced by many of the best conservative writers (including the three founders). Among the stellar writers and reporters on its staff I would cite Andrew Ferguson (in a class by himself), Christopher Caldwell, Philip Terzian, Matt Continetti (now editor of the Washington Free Beacon), Matt Labash, Michael Warren, Jonathan Last, Mark Hemingway and, most recently, Eric Felten. Among the magazine’s regular contributors of note were P.J. O’Rourke, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Joseph Epstein and David Gelernter.

What a constellation of talent the editors assembled. What a terrific magazine. Its death yesterday represents a great loss.

Bill Kristol is friends with just about everybody, me included, but I consider him a most generous friend. I hosted a dinner for Bill in Minneapolis when he came out to appear as the featured speaker at the Center of the American Experiment’s Fall Briefing a few years back. He is a learned scholar and delightful gentleman.

I spent a week as a media fellow at the Hoover Institution getting to know then managing editor Richard Starr, who occupied the office next to mine. How lucky I was to share the week with Richard; he is one of nature’s noblemen. I got to know online editor Jonathan Last during the year we wrote a weekly column for the Standard online. Jon saved me from myself on more than one occasion. I got to know Kelly Jane Torrance in connection with my articles for the magazine. I found working with Richard and Jon and Kelly to be an education and a pleasure.

Steve Hayes goes out as the Standard’s last editor in chief. I understand he did his best to save the magazine. I got to know Steve in 2006, I think, at a Claremont Institute conference hosted by Bill Bennett in Aspen, Colorado. Steve had his beautiful sister with him at the time. He was bucking her up at a difficult time for her. My wife and I immediately bonded with Steve and his sister. Nobody doesn’t like Steve.

I’ve read everything out there about the demise of the Standard yesterday. If you want to understand what happened, I don’t think there is anything better than John Podhoretz’s “The murder of the Weekly Standard.” Incidentally, the Clarity Media executive who is the subject of John Podhoretz’s indignation is Ryan McKibben.

John is my favorite movie reviewer. He has reviewed movies for the magazine for 23 years. In the magazine’s last issue he looks back in “A valediction.”

For me, writing for the magazine fulfilled a professional fantasy. I always felt like I had to write a few degrees beyond the limits of my ability in order to deliver work up to the magazine’s standards. If I got there on occasion, it was with a little help from the editors. I was so proud when the magazine published articles I had written, especially including these:

“Louis Farrakhan’s first congressman,”

“How Arafat got away with murder,”

“The flying imams win,”

“The Ellison elision,”

“Rather shameful” (with John Hinderaker),

• Four articles on the case of the “Minnesota men,” one of which was “‘Minnesota men’ on trial.”

This year the editors let me try again to get out the word about Keith Ellison in “Can Keith Ellison turn lawman?” (online) and about Ilhan Omar in “The anti-Israel seat” (in the magazine).

I lament the death of the Standard. I wish the Standard’s talented editors and staff writers the best of luck along with my prayers as they seek work at other organizations in a challenging media environment.

PAUL CONCURS: I agree with everything Scott says above. The Weekly Standard has been a valuable part of my conservative education and it was an honor to have contributed, marginally, to the publication.

I never got to know the Standard’s editors as well as Scott has. However, I know Bill Kristol slightly. I like him and hold him in high regard. His intense anti-Trumpism, which I don’t share, hasn’t changed this.

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