Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The online left-wing outrage industry at right-wing money

Some fool at Gawker has discovered the dark secret that conservative organizations fund some conservative college publications which sometimes attract writers who later go into journalism and politics - as conservatives - and he is outraged! Surely it is equally problematic then that some college newspaper staffers go on to become professional journalists, some college protesters become professional activists, some college politicians become real politicians, some nerds become academics, some theater and arts alumni become actors and artists, all using their college experiences to start their careers? But no, it can't be that the same nascent vocational affinity that draws students to write for college political magazines also leads them to pursue careers in political journalism. It must be conservative "money madness" that brainwashed them and thrust them into these jobs. As for the scores of liberal college journalists who became prominent liberal pundits (and that's a sampling of just Harvard's liberal journalism alumni), theirs was apparently a pure impulse to do good, so they required no funding and paid their publications' printers only in love.

Moreover, it's only conservatives who can parlay their college journalism into careers:
"That white guys like Hegseth and Continetti can publish critiques of privilege-checking in lavishly funded conservative outlets, earn praise from conservatives in the media mainstream, and reap the financial rewards of their advocacy, is a deep irony that's apparently lost on them."
This is obviously a "privilege" exclusive to white guy conservatives writing for conservative-funded publications. It's not like the Crimson's articles are being picked up every week by the Boston Globe. There are no liberals in "the media mainstream" to praise liberal college journalism or, if there are, they're all unpaid volunteers. Like Arianna Huffington, for example - a famous unpaid liberal media intern whose website never publicizes liberal campus journalism. And pity Arthur Sulzberger, poor as a church mouse (send donations!) and with no influence in the "media mainstream" that ever results in the conversion of college advocacy into national news. Worst of all, there are no equivalent liberal advocacy jobs for liberal college students. Only conservatives earn money in journalism or politics, from these nefarious right-wing "funders." I'll bet Aaron Weinstein is being compensated by Gawker for his heroic efforts in packets of instant ramen.


Weinstein apparently believes that the Collegiate Network is snatching unsuspecting college students, indoctrinating them and providing them with "lavish funding" for their campus publications, and then setting them on a direct road to "six-figure salaries" in conservative advocacy. How does that work exactly? Well, I once started a campus publication which was graciously funded in part by the Collegiate Network. Let me tell you about it.

First, we started out as a bipartisan "journal of ideas" (this was a dreamier period of my life) but quickly discovered that student government was unable to fund the full cost of our lavish proposal of three issues per year. But crazily enough, we still wanted to start our journal. So we looked around and found some additional sources of funding: a small U of C fund that gave us about $500, and the Collegiate Network, which bestowed upon us the lavish sum of $1000 (the following year, they even upped us to $1800 for our good behavior). Too bad that the cost of printing a single issue of our magazine was about $1400. After putting together the money from student government, the little fund, and CN, we covered our first year's costs and began publishing.

CN then swooped in and enforced its "McCarthy era" demands on us with strict discipline: only white men could write for the magazine, which was awkward for me and the other two or three female editors on our fluctuating six-person staff, and all of them were required to "opine conservatively for maximum effect" in order to provide raw materials for the "campus right-wing outrage industry." This rigid ideological requirement resulted in articles about such topics as indigenous land rights, the poetry of Joseph Brodsky, the philosophy of Richard McKeon, and the liberating possibilities of pornography. Maximum conservative impact was achieved when all these articles went viral and we were repeatedly invited to appear on Fox News, only for some reason there is no record of that part. And, with the $57 or so left over at the end of our first year, we threw a lavish pizza party in my apartment blow-out at a downtown club, renting out a private room and ordering bottle service, then returning to our apartments at 6 am in stretch limos. All lavish stuff, let me tell you.

And it goes without saying that I have since become a rich and important conservative pundit. Before CN gave us this money, I was both liberal and totally uninterested in writing. But it's amazing what a grant covering a quarter of the annual cost of running a campus magazine will do to you. I was immediately indoctrinated by right-wing propaganda and compelled to compose right-wing polemics. And from there, it was a quick rise to the heights of conservative punditry and massive wealth and fame as an editorial assistant, occasional freelancer of book reviews, and now a graduate student. It's because I'm actually so high-profile that I blog under this pseudonym. And you can't even imagine how big my teaching assistant paycheck is - fully SEVEN FIGURES, if you count the numbers to the right of the decimal. My only regret is that, unlike Matt Continetti, I was not given the hand of one of Bill Kristol's children in marriage, which would've fully cemented my position as queen of the universe, but I was willing to settle for being a favored princess of the blood. The rest of the Midway Review staff circa 2007 now shares space with me at the helm of the conservative movement, having been also groomed and elevated to power by this "right-wing money front," only most of them prefer to keep that part of their lives out of sight and so have taken misleading day-jobs as lawyers, software developers, teachers, IT coordinators, and I think one professional Marxist protester (of course that one is a double-agent). And we have CN to thank for it all. All we had to do was show up and they did the rest. Only sad liberals have to work for their success.


Eventually, Weinstein comes down from the oxygen-deprived peaks of conspiracy-theorizing long enough to notice that the left has partisan campus journalism funding outfits too, and it turns out that he has no problem with that after all:
This is a game that liberals have learned to play recently, too. The Center for American Progress, through its Campus Progress and Generation Progress programs, similarly funds left-leaning independent campus publications and grooms fellow travelers for punditing and politics...Even though conservatives got a head start of several decades, CAP has closed the gap, and its campus-publication alumni are also far and wide. But CAP also actively seeks out voices of diversity; conservative groups like the ISI and Collegiate Network still mostly fund white guys like Hegseth and Fortgang.
No, the problem with CN is not that it's some kind of politically-motivated organization meddling in internal campus affairs, but that it doesn't "seek out voices of diversity." Does CAP "seek out" its voices? Unless they're sending emissaries to campuses to personally solicit minorities and women to start campus magazines, then presumably no, anyone who wants to start a progressive publication can apply for their funding, just as with CN. There isn't even a race or gender question on the application. CAP is clearly dropping the diversity ball here.

So, in sum, college students sometimes become professional journalists after writing for a while for one of their college's publications, and if we dig really deep into the "connect-the-dots money madness" of the right, we will discover that it funds some of these publications, while others are funded by the left, and most by a patchwork of funds from wherever money could be found. But here is the kicker: some of these student journalists are conservative. It's all a big racket called growing up and finding what you like to do. Get outraged, and send in the FBI.


Withywindle said...

I feel the same way about the Jewish Conspiracy: where's my swag?

Of course, just because we play the Lepiduses, doesn't mean there aren't conspiracies. Every group of villains has an ill-paid buffoon; shall we not embrace the role?

Flavia said...

Oh, for gawd's sake.

Here's the real secret: some colleges are better-funded than others--from a wide variety of sources--and therefore can offer a wider range of activities and extra-curricular opportunities to their students!

Miss Self-Important said...

Withywindle: Ok, but I'd like a union to agitate for higher buffoon wages.

Flavia: That's true, but UChicago wasn't particularly poor either. The student activities funding just prioritizes established activities, so if you're trying to start a new magazine (or any new thing that costs money), you have to first demonstrate that you're serious and competent before they'll fund you fully. So starting up requires finding some outside funding. Now that this journal has been in existence for a long time, they get full funding from student government and don't need help from outside organizations. I assume that new organizations even at other wealthy schools can face similar start-up hurdles. But fundraising is not all that conspiratorial.

Withywindle said...


Flavia said...

I was agreeing with your exasperation at the linked article. My point is that prestigious and well-funded colleges have both their own money and money from outsiders (individuals and organizations) who are willing, under various conditions and with various limitations, to give money to student groups.

Student organizations of all political persuasions benefit from the kind of access that students at elite college have to money--wherever it comes from. And where it comes from strikes me as generally irrelevant.

A liberal who cares about student journalism should worry less about the fact that a few kids at elite schools who are already conservative and will likely be writing for one or another campus publication anyway now have support for their own publication. Better to think about what can be done to help students at an institution that only has a single newspaper, and few resources to keep it afloat or train and recruit reporters.

Miss Self-Important said...

Well, Weinstein emphasizes how thoroughly he's checked his privilege, so you could perhaps wonder which is better evidence of that: helping out the less privileged by, for example, using your own media influence to publicize their media, or demanding more privilege-checks among the remaining privilege-unchecked elites.

I think I could object to student groups being funded by, say, foreign terrorist organizations, or outside funding that comes with major impositions on the school's independence (though obviously state and federal gov't funds do that), but basically, if rich donors want to give money to college students to do extracurricular stuff b/c they believe "the children are our future" or whatever, great.

Miss Self-Important said...

Withywindle: Ha!