There is a lot of consternation of late about the demise of The Weekly Standard, a right-of-center publication founded by Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes and owned by Rupert Murdoch from its founding in 1995 until 2009 (right around the media mogul purchased the Wall Street Journal).
The Standard is hardly the first ideologically-driven publication to suffer. Those sort of endeavors are rarely profitable, and usually subsist on support from people who are simply interested in promoting the ideology of the publication.
The Standard is getting attention because some argue the magazine is being shut down because, while conservative, it wasn’t Trumpy enough.
Columnist Max Boot makes that argument in the Washington Post today. He says the Standards owners are shifting their resources to another property they own, the Washington Examiner, which is more Trump-friendly. “Conservatism needs a new Weekly Standard untainted by Trump,” writes Boot, who is billed as a conservative columnist (your mileage may vary) and is very anti-Trump.
I’ll leave it to others to analyze the decline of the Weekly Standard specifically, but if the larger concern is the loss of conservative voices, maybe publications like the Washington Post could help address that.
Outside of the Fox News universe, there are very few conservatives employed by traditional news outlets, and many of those few tend to represent what a New York Times editor thinks a conservative is.
That should change.
If the news media is worried about the quality of debate in the Trump era, then they should elevate more conservative voices to be a part of that debate in all aspects of their business. I’m not talking about hiring a few more token conservative columnists. I’m talking about hiring reporters and editors and producers with a right-of-center bent.
Contributing to the growing ideological divide in our country is that conservative points of view are so often “othered” in the news media. Anyone who has heard a Fox News talking head rant, on the most watched cable news channel in America, about some topic not getting “mainstream media coverage” knows what I’m talking about. Fox is mainstream, obviously, but it’s also the right wing counterpoint to the rest of the overwhelmingly left wing media landscape.
Conservative views are relegated to a few outposts like Fox, talk radio, and smaller internet-based enterprises too numerous to mention here. Progressive points of view, meanwhile, are plentiful everywhere else.
This imbalance, which is not at all reflective of the ideological diversity of our country as a whole, has created faction. An “us versus them” mentality which, in turn, has contributed to the declining level of trust in the news media as a whole.
The journalism industry laments the effectiveness of Trump’s “fake news” claims, but the tactic works because it’s tapping into the aforementioned faction. Trump has aligned himself with the Fox News team versus the liberal media team, and it’s working.
The solution is to get rid of the teams.
That can be done by the “mainstream media” ending the de facto ostracism of conservative (and libertarian!) voices.