TAP into something

I’ve been an editor or reporter at The Northwestern Chronicle, a conservative weekly newspaper, for going on four years now. When TAPPED tried to paint me as part of a movement responsible for “The Intellectual Decline of the Campus Right,” I got snippy.


We’d be willing to bet that the Patriot receives funding from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a little organization that subsidizes, with generosity a socialist would applaud, many of the conservative magazines on campuses around the country, which rarely have the readership or, thus, the advertising from local merchants to sustain publication on their own. (But thanks to ISI’s generosity, most of them print regularly and on glossy paper, while the lefty ones publish on recycled newsprint whenever they can scrape together the dough.) The ISI puts out little manuals for these Mini-Dineshes, and pays their way to conferences run by the Collegiate Network, where the kids hobnob with Fred Barnes, learn techniques for baiting the Black Students Association and so forth.

This broadside struck close to home for me – not because it was entirely true, but because the Collegiate Network’s website has a picture of me hobnobbing with Fred Barnes. I e-mailed TAPPED:

I’m the editor of The Northwestern Chronicle, a weekly conservative rag published on newsprint (5000 copies = $550). We get funding from the ISI – we also work like dogs for subscriptions, which make up 20% of our revenue this year, and send out letters to alumni to ask for donations. Your characterization of conservative publications, thus, struck me as laughable. NU’s leftist magazine, The Protest, gets funding from the student activity fee paid by every Northwestern student – we don’t ask our fellow students to subsidize us at all. I’m curious – in your moral universe, which method of securing funding is more fair?

For the last three years I’ve attended ISI’s conferences and met editors from similar papers around the country. The Patriot, yes, is seen as our movement’s flagship paper, and there are qualms to be taken with that. But apart from The Princeton Tory, the Kenyon Observer, and a few other mags, the vast majority of conservative papers are printed cheaply.

This might seem to you like a curious bone to pick. It wasn’t the only assertion you made. But to me, it encapsulates much of what has made TAPPED incrementally worse and worse over the past few months. You assume, with a blurb from one magazine and a memory from a book you “flipped through” as evidence, that conservative college students are a pack of well-funded plutocrats who publish dreck on the most environmentally-unfriendly paper possible. It’s an image that jives perfectly with your stereotypes of the right and jars dramatically with reality. Your post will probably attract more attention than anything written on the other end of the spectrum, but for its complete lack of truth or perspective, it makes you look ridiculous.

The thing is – with a modicum of googling and legwork, you probably COULD find a way to slam conservative college papers on substantive points. You decided instead to suppose what conservative papers MIGHT be like and posit it as proof of an “intellectual decline.”

How tedious.

missing the old, good TAPPED,
Dave Weigel

And, happily, they responded.


Bully for your for getting independent funding and eschewing the left-wing-campus teat. If you’re right, and most righty rags aren’t glossy and thick, then you’ve rebutted an aside. The broader point is that an enterprising conservative start-up can always go to ISI for money grants (as well as, in most cases, to the student activities fund. And the even broader point, the main point, really, is: Most of the many conservative student rags we’ve come across in our time follow the same blueprint as they did in D’Souza’s time, which wasn’t much of a blueprint then and isn’t much of one now. We purposely cited those “articles” for which the Patriot is supposedly adding to intellectual debate, and pointed out that they are, rather, insipid and silly.
That’s the substantive point you’re looking for. And if you think that calling for the bulldozing of a quad popular for protesting is serious argument instead of feel-good provocation for righties, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

In any case, good to count you as a reader.


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