Stephen Hayes, the former editor-in-chief of The Weekly Standard, on Tuesday launched a new publication that he said will be “Trump skeptical.”
Hayes founded The Dispatch along with Jonah Golberg, a former senior writer at National Review. In an interview with Axios’ Mike Allen published Tuesday, Hayes said their digital media company will be “center right” and “Trump skeptical.”
“We think of it as more ‘beyond Trump’ than ‘anti-Trump,” he said. “But no one will have any doubt what we think.”
In joint inaugural blog post for The Dispatch, Hayes and Goldberg — along with former American Enterprise Institute director Toby Stock — did not mention Trump. But they criticized conservative media for allegedly towing the Republican Party line and pledged to be different.
“Many news outlets do the work once properly carried out by the parties: opposition research, ideological messaging and even political organizing. As a result, much of what passes for political journalism is really party work by proxy,” they wrote. “This is true across the ideological spectrum, but it is most worrisome on the right. The conservative movement was not intended to be a handmaiden to a single political party.”
The founders also said they would eschew clickbait in favor of paywalled journalism on their website and in newsletters, as well as free podcasts. They have reportedly raised about $6 million for the venture.
The Dispatch: An anti-Trump past and future
Both Hayes and Golberg have rich records of Trump opposition.
Hayes took the helm at the Weekly Standard just before Trump’s inauguration, and kept up the conservative flagship’s generally anti-Trump tone even as much of the right-wing media pivoted. Just two years later, Clarity Media Group shuttered the magazine after 23 years.
While The Weekly Standard’s closure did not appear to be directly related to its politics, the development was widely seen as a sign of the times.
“The closing of the magazine represents a broader shift in conservative media,” CNN Business reported at the time. “Outlets on the right that are critical of Trump have lost influence or changed their tone, while media organizations on the right supportive of the President have flourished.”
For his part, Goldberg has routinely bashed the president in print and on his podcast. In his G-File column last week, Goldberg called it “indefensible” that Trump had called on China to investigate Joe Biden, his Democratic rival for the presidency. He went on to slam “MAGA nationalists” for putting Trump “turd polishing” above their longstanding antipathy toward Beijing.
Meanwhile, The Dispatch’s first prominent hire, National Review senior writer David French, opposes Trump so strongly that he nearly mounted a Hail Mary third-party presidential campaign against him in 2016.
According to Axios, French will serve as senior editor and help oversee a team of eight writers at an office in Washington, D.C.