Before she achieved her current power position as editor and co-founder of left leaning Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington first came to national attention as conservative commentator in 1990s. In part as a reaction George Bush’s presidency, in 2004 she announced her endorsement of John Kerry by saying, "When your house is burning down, you don’t worry about the remodeling.” She’s gone out to pen books like Right Is Wrong.
With the onslaught Arianna Huffington is currently under from the liberal orthodoxy, the left has become a very inhospitable place for her.
First, full disclosure – I’ve been writing for the Huffington Post for several years and as I’ve told anyone who asked it’s one of the great pleasures of my life. I was a fan of HuffPo long before I ended up writing there and seeing my columns on the masthead is still jarring in a very cool way. I’ve met Arianna on a couple of occasions but we aren’t ‘friends’. Recently, I’ve also begun blogging at my friend Andrew Breitbart’s right wing sites including BigJournalism. For me as a writer with generally liberal policy views but an independent outlook, it’s an honor to have access to two very different audience.
HuffPo’s Roy Sekoff, me, Arianna
Arianna Huffington’s current problem is that she’s in the vortex of two things that many liberals seem to hate; free speech & financial success. The earthquake that started this was AOL’s purchase of The Huffington Post. Then the tsunami hit when Andrew Breitbart started doing occasional blog posts at HuffPo a couple of weeks ago.
Arianna faces the dilemma that Ayn Rand described as the greater her effort and achievement, the heavier the world bears down on her shoulders. Or, to frame the issue as Biggie Smalls might have, “Mo money, mo problems.”
There’s a ‘strike’ by some HuffPost bloggers who very clearly don’t understand how businesses are built and it’s ironically fueled by the very same anti-business ideology held by many liberal bloggers that HuffPost supports day in and day out. I believe it’s possible to be both liberal and pro-business and there are obviously millions of business owners – myself included — who support liberal causes and ideals. But there’s also a disturbingly stupid group of leftists who are just opposed on principle to success and making money. These are people who think the world owes them a living and not surpassingly, that extends to Arianna as well.
The Breitbart thing is partially my fault. I suggested to Andrew that he reach out beyond his normal base and spend a little time writing to people on the other side, specifically at HuffPo. I’ve had a few months now of seeing up close how Andrew has been badly maligned and viciously misrepresented by his critics and I thought that liberals deserved a chance to hear what he had to say without a filter.
Although Breitbart and I disagree on many issues, we’re both defenders of free speech. That’s one of the reasons that Breitbart – who used to work for Arianna Huffington as a researcher – helped develop the Huffington Post even though he knew it would support ideas that he passionately disagreed with.
This concept seems completely foreign to most people on the current left, who explicitly call for shutting down speech they don’t like time and time again. The group Color For Change – who even Congressional Black Caucus Democrat Bobby Rush has described in an unrelated matter as ‘not representing black interests — has started an offensive campaign to keep AndrewBreitbart’s ideas from being heard by HuffPost readers. Instead of actually trying to counter his arguments, they want to insult and defame him and then limit his ability to respond.
Of course, Color Of Change director James Rucker blogs at HuffPost so they could easily try to respond factually to things like Breitbart’s debunking of the “Racist Tea Party” narrative and let the argument play out in public. The fact that they don’t want to discuss the issue speaks volumes about the weakness of their position.
In promoting the campaign over at that bastion of censorship The DailyKos – a good barometer for angry left – there’s massive Arianna hate. Of course, nobody over there is bringing up the fact that Markos is using the exact same crowd sourced content model as HuffPost. The thousands of uncompensated writers at DKos are somehow not being “exploited” when they provide eyeballs to all the ads that DailyKos runs, right?
So with all these attacks by people and organizations who Arianna enables, maybe it’s time for her to stop supporting them and just head back to The Right, where free speech is a lot more welcome these days.
That’s easier said than done for anyone who tries to remain honest in today’s binary political climate, however. It wouldn’t surprise me is Arianna is in much the same position I’m in– disgusted by many of the tactics of the left despite an intellectual affinity for a number of liberal policy positions.