The Cornell Review is a conservative newspaper published by students of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. It usually adheres to a fortnightly tabloid format. While the ideological makeup of its staff shifts over the years, the paper has maintained strident criticism of Cornell's perceived left-wing politics and political correctness, delivered with a signature anti-establishment insolence—sometimes making the Review a controversy in itself.
Primary funding for the Review comes from alumni donations and the undergraduate student government. It also receives major grants from the Collegiate Network, a syndicate of conservative campus newspapers funded by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.
Jim Keller, a government major, founded The Cornell Review during his senior year in the spring of 1984 as an outlet for students disaffected by the university's perceived leftist slant. The paper drew immediate and critical attention for its discordant rhetoric and "shock journalism." Ann Coulter, then an undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences, served as its editor during the fall of 1984.
During the 1980s the Review targeted affirmative action, gay rights, communist sympathizers, abortion, and anti-apartheid activists, while defending the Reagan Administration, the Greek system, and the university administration (against striking workers). It notably criticized university-sponsored ethnicity-oriented residential communities, known as "program houses," as segregationist.
In 1986, leftists voiced their opposition to the paper by seeking out and shredding nearly every copy of one issue at a multitude of locations on Campus during the early morning hours after delivery.
The Review was embroiled in several controversies in the 1990s. In 1991, an editor was accused of inappropriately directing student funds to support the Review, although the allegation was dropped. In 1993 its funding was threatened again after it printed a cartoon critical of President Bill Clinton's move to permit gays in the U.S. military deemed by some to be homophobic.
In 1997, the Review printed an anonymous editorial lampooning the Oakland, California school district's move to mainstream so-called Ebonics. Entitled "So U Be Wantin' to Take Dis Class," it presented a mock catalog of courses taught in African-American Vernacular English, but in highly stereotyped language, for instance "Da white man be evil an he tryin' to keep da brotherman down. We's got Sharpton and Farrakhan so who da...man now, white boy." A student protest followed in which a number of copies of the Review were burned. The editors defended the editorial as satire and criticized the burning as suppression of free speech, winning some publicity in conservative circles.
The Review historically prints pieces that bring great debate and controversy. In the autumn of 2002, Cornell Review Online published a column by Elliott Reedwhose Good Vibrations piece exposed a coverup of vibrators to be sold at the campus health center, Gannett. Reed discovered an email to a feminist listserv which claimed the health center had agreed to sell vibrators and solicited comments from female students. The university claimed the email "jumped the gun," as no decision had been made at that time. The Review was awarded a "Campus Outrage" nod from the conservative organization, Accuracy in Academia, for the piece.
In 2003 and 2004, successive editors began a controversial revamp of the Review, swinging it from what many considered to be a religiously informed publication toward a more libertarian conservatism and a more neutral editorial position. In response, former Review writer and activist Ryan Horn resurrected a new "Cornell American" to take up the social conservatism from which the Review had distanced itself. The Cornell Review and the Cornell American had switched roles: the Review had become the calmer and lower profile paper, and the American the more traditional and in the mold of Ann Coulter.