Bill Kristol’s The Weekly Standard to Shut Down: ‘This Was the Step We Needed to Take’

Clarity Media CEO Ryan McKibben says the magazine has been plagued by many of the same challenges of other publications

Last Updated: December 14, 2018 @ 8:39 AM

The Weekly Standard, the conservative magazine founded by Bill Kristol in 1995, will shut down, Ryan McKibben the CEO of the magazine’s parent company Clarity Media told staffers in an all-hands meeting on Friday morning.

The company made the closure official in a press statement a short time later. The last issue will be published on Dec. 17.

“The Weekly Standard has been hampered by many of the same challenges that countless other magazines and newspapers across the country have been wrestling with,” McKibben said.

“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,” he added. “After careful consideration of all possible options for its future, it became clear that this was the step we needed to take.”

Shadows had loomed over the magazine, which has defied other conservative media outlets by taking a consistently anti-Trump stance since the 2016 election, with questions about the Standard’s financial health as well as Clarity’s plans to expand its more pro-Trump outlet The Washington Examiner to include a weekly magazine of its own.

“All good things come to an end. And so, after 23 years, does The Weekly Standard,” said founding editor Bill Kristol in a tweet. “I want to express my gratitude to our readers and my admiration for my colleagues. We worked hard to put out a quality magazine, and we had a good time doing so. And we have much more to do. Onward!”

There had previously been some chatter that Clarity would merge the two publications, but that possibility was ruled out on Friday. A rep for Clarity declined to comment on how many staffers would be laid off from the magazine. The decision to fold the Standard is a blow to legacy anti-Trump conservative media, which has come under growing audience pressure to fall into line with the current administration.

The decision by Clarity brings to an end one of the most influential conservative magazine’s in the country. Founded in 1995 by Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes and published by Newscorp, the magazine was purchased by Clarity media in 2009. It’s most recent editor was Stephen F. Hayes.

At least one Weekly Standard staffer, however, appeared to take the news in stride.

“I’m doing great,” said contributing editor Jay Cost. “Weird but true: Getting fired can be the best thing that ever happens to you.”

The Standard is the second major media property to fold up in just weeks. In November, millennial media outlet Mic laid off their entire editorial staff after months of declining traffic and the cancellation of their Facebook Watch program led to a cash crunch.

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