Arianna Shrugs: Should Huffington Return to Right?

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.

me-arianna

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.

8 Comments

  1. I appreciate your ability to realize and accept that much of what passes for argument on the left is based in concealing or ignoring the facts in pursuit of their ends. I believe you have begun your journey back from the wilderness of leftist/progressive catechism and into the civilization and clarity of classic liberal thought. (There is a difference – see http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/01/are_you_liberal_a_liberal_or_a.html).

    Liberal and conservative principles are not mutually exclusive, though the self-labeled progressives would have you believe differently. In point of fact, classic liberal principles are fully compatible with even those “scary” tea party beliefs such as individualism and self-determination.

    Reply
  2. “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.”

    This isn’t fair. Most liberals I know love and revere both free speech and financial success . . . so long as the right sorts of people have them. When the wrong sorts of people (that is, those who dissent with liberal orthodoxy) have them, not so much.

    That being said, has anybody ever told you you look a little bit like Rainn Wilson?

    As someone with a long time affinity with liberal policy positions, and not a huge fan of certain conservative positions or tactics, I’m way too conservative for most liberals I talk to, so I just call myself a rock-ribbed conservative. I often announce an affection for Sarah Palin, just so they know that I’m no David Weigel.

    I’m very sympathetic with certain progressive policy positions. I’m open to higher taxes on the rich, for example–but then I note that no level of taxation of the wealthy with close the deficit gap, and I’m a rabid right-winger again.

    Even when I get exhausted with the hyperbole of Rush Limbaugh, and stop listening therefore, I don’t hate the guy, don’t think he’s dishonest, don’t think he’s evil. I routinely defend folks like Breitbart and Limbaugh from baseless accusations that I think are extraordinarily unhelpful–because they distort the debate. Most of the accusations I hear, re: Limbaugh are as hyperbolic as he is. How is that helpful?

    One more observation: in discussions with liberals, I will often agree about, say, the inadvisability of pre-emptive wars or the usefulness of more progressive taxation. I announce my general support of Obama, and that I think most of the attacks from the right on Obama are not fair, and often seem politically motivated. And I get so much hate from so many of the liberals (not all, by any stretch, but so many) that it’s astounds me. I’m a fraud, I’m trying to “deceive” them with this horrendous lie that a reasonably conservative is possible, that a sane and moderate Republican might exist. I mean, a large number of them, instead of trying to get my mind right on issues where I’m much more conservative, go straight to name calling, anger, and lots of it.

    And these are the same forums where the conservatives will accuse me of trying to curry favor with liberals with my positions–it’s amazing how universal the notion is that there must be some cause, other than thoughtfully considered beliefs, that would compel me to disagree with them, whoever “them” is in any given context.

    And I think you’re experiencing the same thing: if you don’t agree to hate the same people they do with the same ferocity, and have the temerity to suggest that those scary political Others might be wrong, but might have good reasons for their positions–then you’re even worse than the Others!

    I’m rambling. Sufficed to say, I’ve added you to my list of blogs I check regularly.

    “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.”

    To some extent. The GOP tent seems to be getting smaller, and there is a push for ideological purity among candidates, which discourages free speech–at least from politicians running for office (compare today’s Mitt Romney with 2008’s Mitt Romney). Both sides, I think, could be a little more open and honest about the other. Obama’s neither a socialist or an anti-Kenyan colonialist, and it doesn’t make me a crazy liberal to say so. At the same time, Breitbart is not a fraud and a race-baiter (a recent discussion at Plum-line has almost every liberal parroting the same anti-Breitbart talking points, and it’s tedious). But I kind suspect that, if you’re a liberal and you express that opinion, there’s a lot of people who think you need to be kicked out of the He-Man Elephant-Haters club.

    I hope you don’t have any lingering skepticism about anthropogenic climate change–cuz even if you support carbon taxes and green energy, if you harbor the smallest doubt that people owning cars and using toaster ovens is destroying the planet, you’re anti-science, anti-truth, and will be forever considered a non-person by all right thinking liberals everywhere. 🙂

    Reply
  3. “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.”

    As I keep saying, if you have to continually tell folks you have liberal policy views, there’s probably a reason. Personally, I’d like to see you do a post or two where you spell one or two of ’em out, and explain why the conservative position on that/those issues is wrong. And I’d like to see it posted at one of Breitbart’s “big” sites, if at all possible, so we can all judge how maturely they discuss the issue (and unless I miss my guess, your parentage, education, degree to which they believe you’re wearing headgear made from your own buttcheeks, etc) with you.

    …”that bastion of censorship The DailyKos…”

    This is starting to take on the whiff of sour grapes, Lee. Yes, Kos was wrong to remove you, but–while you are entitled to speak, and to say anything you wish, you’re not entitled to set up your soap box anywhere you want, or to any particular audience. (Or to any audience, at all.) Kos was wrong to dismiss you for speaking ill of John Edwards, and not just because your suppositions about him turned out to be correct, in the end. I’m not a reader of either Kos or HuffPo, except when sent there by a link–my issue is they’re both way too busy, for me. I prefer the quietude and familiarity of personal blogs, and the commenters that frequent them–but I was always under the impression that any voice on/of the left was welcome at Kos (and any voice, period, at HuffPo), even when offering an unpopular–and perhaps even, conservatively voiced–viewpoint. At the same time, I can appreciate that not all opinions are or should be welcome in all places. If a blogger wants to set up a place where only left or right wing opinion is accepted and acceptable, I don’t see it as being all that different from a blog about auto repair not accepting posts or comments on baking apple pie. Kos does give the impression that all voices on/of the left are permitted, however… even ones that don’t tow the majority left/lib lines…

    Yes, what Kos did to you is disappointing and wrong, but it may be time to mop up the milk, rather than letting it lay there on the floor souring, and giving off that milky, grapey smell.

    The strike seems a little nutty, to me. While I think Arianna’s answer seems a little cold, I think she’s correct. (And, tying it to our discussion of Godin, yesterday “In a digital world, the gift I give you almost always benefits me more than it costs.”[I don’t want this comment stuck in moderation, so no link, but google “seth godin what matters now” for the reference.] Writers giving it away for free today are helping to ensure they’ll be able to sell it, tomorrow.)

    Color of change on the other hand, I’m not so sure. Arianna has every right to let Andrew speak on her soapbox. But, as I said above, he’s not therefore entitled to be heard by Arianna’s audience, or by any other. And Arianna’s audience IS entitled to say that they think he has enough exposure on his own sites, and that they choose not to read him. (Is it closed-minded? Perhaps… But then, everyone picks and chooses who they want to give their attention to, and who they do not, and no one reads/listens to every word penned by every blogger/pundit with whom they disagree; No one. We all choose our media diet–based on time, position on issues, attitude, and who knows what-all–and choosing not to consume Andrew Breitbart is as valid as deciding against a “meal” of any other writer. So is letting the “chef” know that you’d prefer not to see any overdone “Breitbart” on your plate.

    There’s a difference between shutting down speech and saying “Not here, thanks.” If anyone’s saying Breitbart should be removed from the internet or not permitted on TV or in public, I’d be shoulder to shoulder with you, opposing that. But to say, we won’t read him, and object to your giving him another outlet–on what you agree–is or was a left-leaning site–isn’t censorship or shutting down speech. It’s more speech, in opposition to his speech, which is as it should be, if ya ask me…

    Personally, I’d be more inclined to accept Breitbart’s being there if it was an exchange program, where in return, Breitbart accepts a HuffPo liberal spouting liberal views on his sites. (Sorry, Lee, you don’t count, because as I said, everyone (including you, yourself) has to keep repeating and reassuring the reader that you’re a liberal, because it just isn’t all that obvious, anymore…)

    I’m sure Arianna is disgusted by some of the tactics employed against her and others from any/all sides… As well she should be. But I still reject the whole “left (or right) does it “more,” or “worse,” notions folks keep insisting on, as though there is any objective proof, and as though the claim, made one way or the other solves anything, anyway. Folks on both sides are still being hit with bad tactics by folks on both sides. “Enemy” and “friendly” fire abound. Attack the behaviors and the individuals using them, but don’t generalize that this con (or lib) represents the thinking or behavior of ALL cons (or libs).

    Reply
  4. Sigh. First, you made me follow you on Twitter. Now I’m going to have to put your site in my daily read folder to keep up with everything you’re saying. What will all of my social con friends think!?

    Seriously, I appreciate the stances you’ve been taking. It seems to me that you’re making a real distinction between “liberal” and “leftist” and claiming the former. That generates a lot of respect. Like a lot of folks, I love to argue but hate to fight. Leftists who can’t argue but rather try to shut people up–you have to fight those folks. Liberals who disagree but are fair–you guys are worth your weight in gold. Keep up the good work, and I hope your recent positions aren’t just creating respect for you from those on the Right side of the aisle.

    Reply
  5. And these are the same forums where the conservatives will accuse me of trying to curry favor with liberals with my positions–it’s amazing how universal the notion is that there must be some cause, other than thoughtfully considered beliefs, that would compel me to disagree with them, whoever “them” is in any given context.

    Testify. It’s universal.

    Reply
  6. Arianna’s tail is in a cleft stick with this one. If she limits herself to conservatives who’ve never said anything anywhere that her current readership will hate — there aren’t many and they aren’t conservative enough to be the beard she’s looking for.

    Reply
  7. I am looking at your blog every day and now I’ve added you to my RSS page on iGoogle. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading. Your journey is interesting to me.

    Reply
  8. The real liberals are now those of us who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. For the Kos and HuffPo crowds, their politics has become a religion. Anyone who dare question shall be banned.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Why I’m Quitting Blogging At The Huffington Post - [...] keep this short. As I wrote this morning, writing for the Huffington Post has been one of the great…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *