I'm a Foot Soldier?


So, apparently I'm name checked in an exceedingly silly New York Observer story about "the way that the conservative media machine enlists its young foot soldiers and transforms them into wonder-boy pundits." (Since I turned 27 a few weeks ago, I'd have thought I was safely out of wünderkind territory and well on my way to curmudgeon.) The prime example of this vaguely conspiratorial sounding process is Matt Continetti from The Weekly Standard, who interned at National Review while he was at Columbia, then got a fellowship his first year at the Standard, where his editor helped him get a book contract. The only remotely "machine" sounding part of this is that he got some help at various points from the Collegiate Network (libertarians have the Institute for Humane Studies). Beyond that, the glimpse we get into the secret inner workings of this conservative media cabal consists of the shocking revalation that a right-leaning young journalist would intern at one conservative mag, then get a job at another, and that his editor would help him do a book. Fiendishly clever. Can I get my decoder ring now?

The weirdest thing about the article is that it suggests this is something the right is especially skilled at. We're told:

THERE'S A PERCEPTION IN SOME CIRCLES that the right is much better at reaching out to young people and drawing them into the fold: A progressive-minded college student is lucky to find a job licking envelopes for Greenpeace, but a conservative one might be given his own talk show.

Well, that's an interesting report about what "some circles" perceive, but I'm curious what reason there is to think it's true. The right has IHS and Collegiate Network. The left has Campus Progress. The Observer mentions a handful of 20-something dudes working at right-ish magazines. Do I really need to go through a tedious list of liberal 20-somethings I know in D.C. who are in exactly the same position? As Ross Douthat notes, it's not exactly tough to think of liberal publications where our counterparts cut their teeth and go on to further pundity pursuits. Especially odd, as Ross points out, is that of the five people specifically named, it's really only Ben Domenech who could pass as a "movement conservative." I'll be offered a gig at the Standard exactly one week after Satan opens a ski resort, and Matt's book, which is about GOP corruption, doesn't exactly strike me as Republican cheerleading. Still, it might be fun to put "right-wing foot soldier / wonder boy pundit" on my business card.