Philly Weekly’s brief, modest shift to the political center has ended and its new editor apologized on Friday for giving non-Leftists a voice in its pages.
Josh Kruger, who also wrote for PW in its earlier days as a reflexively progressive tabloid, issued a note to readers lamenting that the Philadelphia-based paper ever strayed from its longstanding party line. He blasted PW’s deviation from that line as “really offensive and, frankly, hurtful.” He recalled he “was sort of devastated” when, in autumn of 2020, the publication announced it would embrace “alt journalism that’s conservative” and sought financial support via Kickstarter.com so it could realize that vision.
The journal pledged to debunk dubious public-health policy made during the COVID-19 pandemic, scrutinize the anti-law-enforcement agenda of District Attorney Larry Krasner (D) and expose corruption among the city’s nearly all-Democratic political elite.
As soon as the tabloid’s principals began suggesting material other than left-wing boilerplate would soon appear therein, then-editor Kerith Gabriel wrote a profanity-laced screed proclaiming that the move would trigger his departure. Liberal former staffers also publicly registered their distaste for PW’s new direction.
“I f**king despise this desire to become more conservative,” Gabriel declared. “In my opinion, the real issue here is not the suggested switch [of viewpoint] but what the word ‘conservative’ truly means today. … And at the end of the day, it doesn’t speak for the majority of Philadelphia, myself included.”
Much ensuing reportage in the tabloid contrasted with its earlier reputation: Center-right columnist Christine Flowers (now of The Delaware County Times) authored a reflection on her politically driven firing from The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Philadelphia Daily News. Christopher Tremoglie (now of The Washington Examiner) denounced Saint Joseph University’s investigation against then-mathematics professor Greg Manco for openly opposing slavery reparations.
PW also would often write critically of leftist figures like Krasner and favorably of right-leaning dignitaries like Philadelphia Republican Chair and State Representative Martina White (R-Philadelphia). Kyle Sammin (of The Federalist and Broad + Liberty) came aboard as a senior editor.
Nevertheless, Kruger’s suggestion in his piece last week that the journal became “a conservative propaganda machine” doesn’t quite hold up. During PW’s 2021 stint as a “conservative” outlet, it sometimes published material sharply contrary to that simplism. For instance, in a March 2021 column, then editor-in-chief Jenny DeHuff defended the legality of abortion and called for the legalization of prostitution.
“We need to examine criminalized sex work and question why it is illegal in the first place …,” she wrote. “To everybody who is protesting outside of Planned Parenthood … I think we can finally all agree on something: ‘MY BODY, MY CHOICE’ is always the right message.”
Though a former staff writer at the conservative Philadelphia Bulletin who was brought on board at PW to oversee its rightward shift, DeHuff would leave after a few months and become editor of the left-leaning City & State Pennsylvania.
After PW ran Kruger’s article expressing sorrow for his paper’s short-lived move toward the center, some of those who contributed writings during that period deplored the manner in which the journal reversed course.
“@PhillyWeekly just ran an editorial apologizing, deeply, for ever running conservative voices because the tender ears of its target audience (adults?) were assaulted, and they were triggered,” Flowers wrote in a Twitter post. “It reads like a story from @TheBabylonBee [satire news site]. What’s up with these snowflake journalists?”
Tremoglie also noted his disappointment.
“Whaaaaaattt?” he replied to Flowers’s tweet. “I thought @phillyweekly was supposed to be the ‘conservative alternative’???? What the heck happened?”
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