IPJ’s conservative? Get outta here!

So in his column today Howard Kurtz included an item about a fundraising letter Fred Barnes sent out on IPJ’s behalf.

Kurtz incorrectly describes Barnes as director of IPJ (he sits on the Fund for American Studies’ Board of Trustees. But according to Kurtz, Barnes writes in the letter, “We conservative journalists are vastly outnumbered, and we need reinforcements soon!” Of course, those reinforcements are supposed to come in part from IPJ. This was discussed in our ethics class tonight in passing and caused quite a tizzy.

Barnes contradicts himself a little bit. In the letter he says that many of the IPJ students “are bright young conservatives,” but he told Kurtz that in his recent visit, “they didn’t sound like conservatives to me.” And he’s right that there’s no litmus test on IPJ students. The application asks only one very vague essay question.

But it’s no secret that the Fund itself is a conservative organization — heck, I attended an event explicitly intended for young conservatives and libertarians hosted at the Fund’s headquarters — and that IPJ attempts through its classes to impart a conservative point of view. I don’t think it’s an accident that three weeks into classes we’ve yet to hear John Maynard Keynes’ name mentioned in our economics lecture, or for that matter a kind word for government. Take a look at the syllabus for yourself.

Every speaker we’ve had so far has been conservative. All of our speakers, to my knowledge, are conservatives. Our speaker next week is Jessica Gavora, wife of National Review scribe Jonah Goldberg (son of Clinton-hater Lucianne Goldberg) and speechwriter for every civil libertarian‘s favorite whipping boy, Attorney General John Ashcroft.

Now, I’m fine with all of this. I knew that going in. But accusations (that is, accurate descriptions) that IPJ is conservative definitely should not cause a tizzy. I recall asking a couple of non-conservative seeming folks I met my first day here, “Now, you all know this is a right-wing program right?” I received responses I would call equivocal. So I wonder how many people even bothered to check out the program before applying or agreeing to come. I guess since pretty much everyone was accepted regardless, it doesn’t make much of a difference.