If you click here, you’ll see that nothing remains of the 39 articles I’ve written for Arianna Huffington. Not a title, sentence, or tag is left. My author bio now reads:
Matt Osborne has deleted all his posts from this site as part of Operation HuffPuff and encourages other bloggers to do the same.
I see the point many of the 9,000 or so unpaid contributors have made about deserving some kind of compensation, even at a token rate per post, as thanks for building the product she has sold for a fortune. But it wasn’t personal avarice that led me to this; I don’t desire any part of Arianna Huffington’s AOL millions, for in my mind that money is cursed. Just ask Ted Turner.
Instead, my participation in HuffPuff — the growing online rebellion against Arianna and her newly-mintworthy media empire that began at the Adbusters website in February — is the culmination of many months of disillusionment and growing disgust. The sale of Huffington Post represents exactly the sort of “veal pen captivation scheme” that firebagging lefties constantly project on anyone with the temerity to question their paranoid conspiracy theories and character assassinations. To wit:
For someone who writes so often about the president as a man standing aloof of the middle class, Arianna’s own behavior is rather aristocratic. Mayhill Fowler, who famously quit writing for HuffPo last September, has remarked that despite her stellar reporting and Arianna’s many trips to the Bay Area where she lives, she has never been invited to meet the Greek duchess of news. Arianna has never been without privilege. This wouldn’t be enough by itself; background is not destiny. But set within her pattern of hypocrisy and self-advancement, it is enough to put a question mark on her liberalism.
Despite her public shift away from conservatism fifteen years ago, Arianna is still friends with Newt Gingrich, one of the most offensive panderers of the culture war fringe. He is not the only right-wing freak with whom she maintains friendly associations. But far more worrisome are her longstanding ties to the Movement for Spiritual Inner Awareness (MSIA) — a cult whose founder has been accused of seducing young acolytes and threatening ex-members, among other things.
Arianna has reportedly pressured staff members into attending MSIA meetings. Having seen corporate environments where Tony Robbins was a kind of mandatory godhead — indeed, having served in military units where the Amway cult was rampant among noncommissioned officers — these accounts make me shudder at the all-too-familiar sense of pressure her staffers must feel.
It also explains why her website features so many New Age gurus and crackpots instead of a science section. Indeed, the only hard science news comes as AP and Reuters feeds. Huffington Post has always been a hotbed of the very celebutard culture of self-help snake oil that Chris Hedges describes in The Death of the Liberal Class, and only becomes more so with each passing day.
The editorial slant of her publication has also shifted in the last two years. It is impossible for any submission mentioning Barack Obama to gain the front page unless it stands to his extreme left and denounces him for standing too far to the right. This is not simply about pulling the Overton Window to left-of-center, either: firebagging outrage and ginned-up controversy bring page loads, which are are what AOL pays millions to own. See how that works?
This is the only point of personal contention I have with Huffington Post. Standards of excellence that one assumes in a high school English class, such as correct spelling and sentence construction, have little or no bearing on whether a post is promoted to the front of a vertical. It is hard to fully explain the annoyance of seeing your hard work relegated to obscurity in favor of a poorly-penned screed.
One group of HuffPo bloggers has also formed a virtual “picket line” and gone on strike, filing a lawsuit they probably won’t win. They have nevertheless drawn Arianna’s disdain for labor into sharp relief. Her dismissive attitude towards them continues even though Richard Trumka and other labor leaders are respecting the picket line. This has ignited my proletarian ire: we writers ARE the working class she claims to care about so much.
I stopped posting at HuffPo nearly a year ago. I have since become the only anonymous blogger in the comments. In February, I began the process of rerunning all my best HuffPo pieces here; that paused in March with the Goat Hill Project, but has now resumed. Having copied all of them into my own blog, they are now erased. I call this “Operation HuffPoof.” I am not the first blogger to erase their work, and almost certainly will not be the last.
As for the future of Huffington Post in this blog: I still follow the RSS feeds of some of the paid bloggers there, and am happy to quote from and link to them. Many of them, such as Shahein Nasiripour and Ryan Grim, are still doing very good work. I no longer read “the internet newspaper” as a news aggregator, as I can accomplish the same thing with my own newsfeeds. Barring a change of management style, I shall never post at Arianna’s place again.
One final note: this action does not end my association with terrific bloggers who still post there unpaid. Bob Cesca and Chris Weigant, both members of the Banter Media Group, are friends and allies for whom I wish the best. They may choose as they see fit, without prejudice from me. I hope I might ask the same.