Budowsky: Save The Weekly Standard

In recent days we learned that The Weekly Standard was being put out of business by a corporate ownership that ended its support, and according to some reports discussed in an excellent column by David Brooks in the New York Times on Tuesday, impeded efforts by The Weekly Standard to seek alternate funding.

I have no inside information about the financing issues surrounding the closing of the Weekly Standard, but one matter is clear to me.  It would be a great thing for journalism, a free press, the cause of principled conservatism and a civilized and intelligent public discourse if some financing source would bring The Weekly Standard back to life.

Readers of my columns and those who have known me over the years know that on most political and ideological issues I have long disagreed, often strongly, with most of the views championed by The Weekly Standard and its editors and writers.  Why would I, as a dyed-in-the-wool Kennedy Democrat, write that it would be fantastic for the world and the profession if some principled financial source comes to the rescue of The Weekly Standard despite my many and long disagreements with its point of view?

ADVERTISEMENT

First, let me emphasize that I have long urged that leading liberal financiers do much more to offer their financial power in support of magazines, journals, social media, talk radio, independent television and publishing enterprises that publish and promote the work of leading thinkers on the left.

Regarding The Weekly Standard, I have always considered that publication to be a credible, thought-provoking and valuable source of principled conservative content in the tradition of former President Reagan and the greatest conservative opinion writer of the 20th century, William F. Buckley.

When I was very young growing up in New York, my late father, a liberal Republican businessman until Republicans threw him out for denouncing former President Nixon and his vice president, Spiro Agnew, had a deal.  I would read the National Review, he would read The New Republic, and we would debate what we read!

In those days, when I was too young to drink or vote, I worked as a gofer for the late Rep. Allard Lowenstein (D-N.Y.).  Al would often invite all of us, and his huge collection of friends, to his home, where I had  the incredible honor and joy to periodically meet and get to know Buckley. Buckley had great respect for Al and despite their major political differences, endorsed him for Congress. 

I have no doubt that if Buckley were with us today he would strongly agree with David Brooks, and me, about the value of The Weekly Standard, and the merit of saving The Weekly Standard.  So, I suspect, would conservative icons from Reagan to the father of modern conservatism, Barry Goldwater.

For exactly the same reasons that it would be great if leading liberal financiers would increase efforts to support valuable progressive enterprises on the left, it would be equally great if a conservative source of capital would rise to revive the principled conservative voice of The Weekly Standard.

To the degree that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE and Trump Republicans deviate from fundamental principles of historic conservatism, including responding to the Russian attack against Western democracy, which Reagan and Buckley would be strongly opposing today, it would provide a service for some principled conservative with capital to come to the rescue of the Weekly Standard just as it would be a service for more liberal financiers to back media, social media and publishing for voices on the principled left.

American journalism, the free press, democracy, advocates of principled conservatism and progressivism would all be well-served by financial support for voices that inspire, inform, provoke, enrage and enlighten those who seek diverse and high quality news and opinion.

While a liberal like myself might not be the most obvious reference for The Weekly Standard, those in conservative financial circles might consider what Buckley, Reagan and Goldwater would think about reviving The Weekly Standard today.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.