The Weekly Standard’s Marketing Maelstrom

Long story short.  The Weekly Standard received an ad–IOW, someone wanted the Weekly Standard’s email list and the cachet that comes with the Weekly Standard name and endorsement–from a far-right group advancing an anti-gay agenda.  Not earthshattering since Weekly Standard is known for being opposed to many gay rights efforts and is conservative.  So what’s the problem?

Well, the contents of the letter are way beyond the normal sphere of reasoned argument that some would expect from Weekly Standard and instead the letter borders on the extreme and ludicrous. Betsy Rothstein at FishbowlDC has the details.

Dear Pro-family American,

The Radical Homosexuals infiltrating the United States Congress have a plan:

Indoctrinate an entire generation of American children with pro-homosexual propaganda and eliminate traditional values from American society. Their ultimate dream is to create a new America based on sexual promiscuity in which the values you and I cherish are long forgotten.

I hate to admit it, but if they pass the deceptively named “Student Non-Discrimination Act,” (H.R. 998 & S. 555) that’s exactly what they’ll do. Better named the “Homosexual Classrooms Act,” its chief advocate in Congress is Rep. Jared Polis, himself an open homosexual and radical activist.

It sort of goes downhill from there. Justin Elliott at Salon said “whatever one’s position on the legislation, the message is remarkable for its fierce anti-gay rhetoric, dripping with disdain and disgust for ‘homosexuals.'” HRC, predictably, has jumped into the fray.  According to Politico, the Weekly Standard’s publisher has said the ad was a mistake and blamed poor vetting.

This is obviously not the sort of advertising that we would accept, nor will we accept it in the future,” Eastland said. “It was just one of these cases where an ad came in, it was not fully vetted in the way it should be, and it got out.”

Missing, however, is any apology or comment from WS founder and editor Bill Kristol, who was busy today launching a conservative version of the Center for American Progress (which was a progressive response to the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups). Eastland told Politico that Kristol wasn’t going to condemn the email or his magazine’s behavior.

Now, news organizations are allowed to leverage or waste their reputations by assisting any groups they want.  And every media outlet has to make money, which means pimping out your email list and reputation. But I don’t understand why any media organization–even on the right-side of the ideological spectrum–would not be more careful about who they endorse by allowing their name to be used in a fundraising appeal. Why would any magazine want to risk its reputation with such a fringe organization?  More importantly, it’s unclear why a founder and editor wouldn’t want to make some move to preserve that reputation when it has been sullied, even if it appears you are bowing to pressure from a political opponent like HRC.

3 Responses

  1. All good questions about the inevitable intersection of editorial content and publishing. A publication is judged by its advertisers, and any owner and editor understands that when they make choices among advertisers to accept. Weekly Standard screwed up.

    The good news, as Barney Frank has long argued, is that most bigots do not have free social reign any longer to be truly ugly, name-calling and creepy when referring to homosexuals.

    While vitriol persists (such as that spewed by the wingnut Eugene Delgaudio), it seems likely that Bill Kristol feels entering the fray is a no-win for him especially now that HRC has weighed in. He prefers that his business voice remedy the gaffe, rather than appear to take sides on the part of a liberal political force that he fundamentally opposes.

    The better news is that extreme opinions like Delgaudio’s will discover they have few islands left to find sanctuary, even among some respected conservative influentials.

  2. Weekly Standard “screwed up” only because they have been called out on it. What the “fringe group” espouses is exactly what the Weekly Standard espouses except that they usually try to cloak the same sentiments behind Buckley-esque condescension. I doubt this was a mistake at all.

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