The Weekly Standard
The Weekly Standard , the flagship weekly magazine of neoconservatism, began publishing in September 1995 and is owned by the News Corporation—the media conglomerate of Rupert Murdoch . Edited by William Kristol and Fred Barnes, the Weekly Standard includes as its contributors leading neocon polemicists, many of whom are associated with the Project for the New American Century and the American Enterprise Institute —both of which have offices in the same building as the magazine.
Weekly Standard regularly features such PNAC analysts as Reuel Marc Gerecht , Ellen Bork (daughter of AEI scholar and prominent Federalist Society member Robert Bork ) , Gary Schmitt , and Thomas Donnelly in addition to PNAC founders William Kristol and Robert Kagan . The contributions of AEI polemicists including David Frum and Danielle Pletka also routinely appear in Weekly Standard.
Origins and Impact
William Kristol, Fred Barnes, and John Podhoretz cofounded the Weekly Standard in March 1995 after meeting (along with David Tell of the Project for the Republican Future) with Rupert Murdoch at the Beverly Hills home of the international media mogul. The weekly newsmagazine published its first issue in mid-September 1995, “thanks to Murdoch's generosity.” 1 William Kristol, son of Irving Kristol and Gertrude Himmelfarb, directed the Project for the Republican Future.
Fred Barnes came to the Weekly Standard from the New Republic , and John Podhoretz (son of longtime Commentary editor Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter ) was a TV critic for the New York Post , also owned by Murdoch. In 1997 Podhoretz returned to the New York Post as an editor and columnist.
The Weekly Standard , closely associated with ideological and political agendas of the Project for the New American Century and the American Enterprise Institute, quickly established itself as the leading mouthpiece of the right's power complex. Commentary served until the late 1980s as the flagship publication of neoconservatism, but its influence among both neoconservatives and the Washington policy community has been far surpassed by Weekly Standard .
Conveniently, every Monday one of Vice President Cheney 's aides stops by the office to pick up 30 copies of the magazine—presumably so the vice president's staff will be among the first to know the latest policy recommendation emanating from the PNAC-AEI- Weekly Standard echo chamber. The Weekly Standard states, “Lots of Washington publications say they have influence. The Weekly Standard delivers it.” It boasts of a “VIP distribution system unrivaled by any other Beltway publication.”
Furthermore, “Each issue is hand-delivered—by request—every Sunday morning to an exclusive list: the most powerful men and women in government, politics, and the media. From the White House to Congressional leadership to the top echelon of Washington's print and broadcast journalists, every important player in the city gets a copy. Articles delivered on Sunday are the foundation of Congressional debates the following week. Moreover, before breakfast on Mondays, 4,000 requested copies of the Standard are delivered—also by hand—to every Member of Congress, to Congressional committees, and to federal agencies throughout the city.” 2
According to The Nation magazine's media critic Eric Alterman: “The magazine speaks directly to and for power. Anybody who wants to know what this administration is thinking and what they plan to do has to read this magazine.” 3
Weekly Standard , under the editorship of Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes, has succeeded in ways that Norman Podhoretz could never even imagine. Although Commentary has five decades head start on Weekly Standard and boasts more subscribers, its influence cannot compare with Kristol's glossy weekly. Unlike Commentary and other outlets for neoconservative opinion, the Weekly Standard began as an expressly political endeavor—a follow-up to the Project for the Republican Future. Kristol is a political intellectual who understands that the medium is as important as the message. For Kristol, ideas, communication, and political change are not distinct parts of a process but rather a continuum. The son of neoconservatives' godfather regards himself as a mover, a shaker, an ideological provocateur, and the Republican Party's goalie—one who keeps moving the goal posts farther to the right.
Ideas and principles are important to neoconservatives, but so is money. In a New York Observer article about neoconservatives, William Kristol suggested that “News Corp. should get a little spot on your map.” 4 Actually, News Corporation deserves more than just a spot on the neoconservative map. The conglomerate owns at least 10 major English-language newspapers, including New York Post and Times of London , in addition to Weekly Standard. 5 Rupert Murdoch's personal involvement has helped to ensure that almost all of his news organizations “have hewn very closely to Mr. Murdoch's own stridently hawkish political views, making his voice among the loudest in the Anglophone world in the international debate over the American-led war with Iraq .” 6
Most U.S. citizens and global media consumers experience Australian-born Murdoch's influence not through the print media but through the Fox News Channel, which in 2002 surpassed CNN to become the top-rated cable news network in the United States. 7 Working with media specialist Roger Ailes, infamous for shaping the first President Bush's negative, covertly racist campaign against Democratic Party contender Michael Dukakis, Murdoch deliberately set out to prod cable news to the right. 8
The Fox News Channel frequently calls on neoconservatives for news commentary, including Weekly Standard 's executive editor Fred Barnes, who in one broadcast during the Iraq invasion called competing news sources “weenies” for their concern about and coverage of civilian casualties. When asked why media outlets like Weekly Standard and Fox News Channel have become so popular, Matt Labash, a Weekly Standard senior writer, responded: “Because they feed the rage. We bring pain to the liberal media. … The conservative media likes to rap the liberal media on the knuckles for not being objective. … It's a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Criticize other people for not being objective. Be as subjective as you want. It's a great little racket.” 9