Phi Beta Cons

Campus Progress Moles

David Halperin, the director of Campus Progress, says that I incorrectly reported that Campus Progress interns misrepresent themselves as conservatives when they attend conservative conferences. While I have never spoken to Campus Progress interns at a conservative conference, Francisco Gonzalez of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute has. He wrote in an email to me:

Campus Progress has a notorious reputation of sending its own staff and interns to attend conservative conferences (such as CPAC and the CRNC) “undercover” to “spy” and report back to its readers. Often they even title their blog articles things like, “Undercover from the CRNC.”

I should know. I was the subject of one of their blog entries at the CRNC in June 2005. I actually found it hilarious and almost childish. To give credit where credit is due, the two “spies” (“Conventioneer” and “Conventionette,” also known as Geoff and Kim) gave me a good rating and they were enjoyable to talk to. They found me thoughtful and “hard not to like.” (Who can disagree with that?)

But, they certainly presented themselves as College Republicans, or at least misrepresented themselves. At the 2005 College Republican National Convention, “Conventioneer” and “Conventionette” deliberately tried to blend in, even going so far as to wear campaign stickers representing Republican candidates. They pretended they were part of the College Republican crowd in order to play “gotcha” for any College Republican that said something stupid or acted like, well, a college student. So, while I agree that YAF should support the free exchange of ideas and perhaps reconsider their decision denying press credentials to Campus Progress, who can blame YAF for protecting its own students from those that have a proven record of being dishonest observers? [emphasis mine.]

I could have also characterized the CRNC convention much differently and added a lot more viewpoints to it – there were plenty of intellectual conservatives there – and they won’t get the attention of most viewers, especially not progressives trying to get good sound bites to rip apart with their blogger friends.

John McCormack — John McCormack is a reporter in Washington and a former senior writer at The Weekly Standard.

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