Vital Signs

Substandard: The End of an Illusion

The sale of The Weekly Standard should put paid to any lingering illusion that the neoconservative empire was anything but a Potemkin village.  Allegedly, Rupert Murdoch sold the magazine for one million dollars to Philip Anschutz, the billionaire owner of Clarity Media Group, but the price seems either much too high or much too low.  Too high, because only a fool would pay so much money for a property that does nothing but lose money without adding a glimmer of insight to political discussion.  Too low, because if The Weekly Standard actually did enjoy the influence that its editors have been so loudly and insistently claiming, $50 million would not be nearly enough.  For Anschutz, a million is the equivalent of the buck it takes to seal a contract.  It’s a rich man’s walking-around money—in other words, chump change.  If you were to believe the neoconservatives, The Weekly Standard has been the brains of the American Empire, but it went on the block for a lousy million.  Some brains!  Some empire!

Murdoch sank untold millions of his ill-gotten gains into TWS.  I suppose that is the proper shorthand, since “The Standard” properly means the Evening Standard.  (It’s funny that, for all its supposed influence, the magazine does not have a well-known acronym or nickname.)  Not long ago they were claiming a “growing circulation”...

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