PERSPECTIVES: Conservative Voices on Line

by Liz Ellison | 3/30/07 5:00am

Dartmouth, is known for its vocal conservative alumni base, has become the subject of a number of blogs, now one of the means by which these alumni tout their opinions on campus and elsewhere.

In 2002, Scott Johnson '71, Paul Mirengoff '71 and John Hinderaker '71 created Power Line (www.powerlineblog.com), a conservative blog that deals with current events and public policy issues. It now attracts roughly 60,000 unique daily readers, according to its creators.

"We also hope to have a direct influence on politics and public policy, so we hope officeholders and officials in Washington and around the country read the site," Johnson said in an e-mail. "We know that we have many such people among our regular readers, because we hear from them, as well as from working journalists who cover them."

Power Line has never addressed Dartmouth politics, instead focusing on national events. In 2005, the blog earned national recognition for being the first news source to raise questions about a CBS News report about President Bush shirking his duties to the Texas Air National Guard. CBS later admitted that the report had used documents whose authenticity could not be proven, and the controversy ultimately resulted in popular news anchor Dan Rather's premature retirement.

Alumni-generated blogs have also been used for campagining in the upcoming trustee election.

Petition trustee candidate Stephen Smith '88 has a blog on his web site, www.stephensmithtrustee.com, which he uses to share his opinions on Dartmouth policies as well as provide updates on his campaign. Candidates John Wolf '70 and Sandy Alderson '69 have also set up web sites promoting their campaigns, www.dartmouth-bethebest.blogspot.com and www.sandyalderson.com, respectively. Generally, the sites provide information about the candidates, lay out where they stand on key campaign issues like freedom of speech and Greek life and offer links to recent news articles about the election.

At the time of the 2005 trustee election, another alumni site, Alumni for a Strong Dartmouth, www.strongdartmouth.org, was founded by Geoff Berlin '84 and Mary Conway '82 to raise awareness about important election issues. The site was created largely because the founders disagreed with the campaigns of petition candidates Peter Robinson '79 and Todd Zywicki '88. Although it has been defunct since shortly after that election's outcome was determined (Robinson and Zywicki were elected), at the time the site was very popular among alums, with over two thousand visitors in just the first two months after it was created. Although the petition candidates ultimately triumphed in the election, the site did register over one hundred alumni supporters while it was in operation.

Among the best-known of Dartmouth blogs is Joe's Dartblog, www.dartblog.com, by Joe Malchow '08. Malchow has used his site to declare his support for the Greek system at Dartmouth and his disapproval of what he terms "the anti-fraternity crusade." He has also criticized statements made by President Wright and questioned a number of College policies.

Dartmouth does have a bit of a reputation for conservative alumni interests, and many alums who feel strongly about changing the direction in which the College is headed have been quick to jump on the blog bandwagon. This trustee election's results may well show how great an impact these bloggers actually have.

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