With a Puff, Huffington Posts Go Poof

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.

About Matt Osborne

Veteran blogging the culture wars from Alabama. Video journalist, mash-up artist, aspiring novelist, and metalhead. Expect bunnies, geekery, dark humor, and snarky empirical analysis to annoy idealists of all stripes. You can follow me on Twitter, but be ready 'cause it might get loud.
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  • http://extremeliberal.wordpress.com/ Extreme Liberal

    That is excellent Matt. The ONLY time I go over there is to read Bob Cesca’s column and then I immediately leave and take a shower and scrub real good. Thanks for standing up against the scam that is Arianna Huffington and Co.!

  • http://twitter.com/BobKincaid BobKincaid

    No, Matt, “background is not destiny,” but by the same token, “what’s past IS prologue,” as Shakespeare ably noted.  In other words, Arianna has NEVER acted against type.  She’s actually quite predictable. 

  • Margarita Mercure Hibbs

    Bravo Matt!  You have your soul back and I thank you for recognizing her agenda for what it was worth………..progressive and liberal brain
    mining for efforts and agenda that aids and abets the Right Wing of
    America, from whence she came. 

  • Chez

    It’s interesting because I’ve actually met Arianna and was featured in the book she put together a couple of years back on blogging. But that’s never for a moment led me to believe that I’m anything special. Arianna is what she is: a star who loves stars — and, as you pointed out, the ridiculous and irresponsible pseudo-science they regularly endorse — and someone who hit on a big idea to make herself even more wealthy than she already was. I’ve never trusted her “progressive credentials,” which is not to say that she doesn’t do some good despite what I believe is a lack of True Belief. I still write for HuffPo on occasion; I do like the exposure. But a long time ago I made the decision that what I submitted to HuffPo would only be pieces that had been posted on my blog first. With all due respect to my good friend Cesca, I have no idea how the hell he’s spent so long doing excellent work EXCLUSIVELY for Huffington; that’s kind of crazy, but it’s absolutely his call and I trust him to make it. As for you, Matt, I feel the same way. I totally get your indignation and I respect it greatly. There’s no doubt in my mind that even though I’m not willing to live up to my own beliefs on this, you’re 100% right.

  • http://www.politicalruminations.com nicole473

    Great job, Matt!

    BTW, Bob hasn’t blogged there since April 22………which may mean something or nothing. :)

  • http://www.osborneink.com OsborneInk

    Chez, I’m not going to look down on you or Bob or anyone else for continuing to write at HuffPo. This is *my* decision, based on *my* ethics, over *my* content. While I encourage others to do the same, my moral compass applies only to myself.

  • http://ohcrapihaveacrushonsarahpalin.blogspot.com OhCrapIHaveACrushOnSarahPalin

    Delete – are you sure? – yes to all – do not ask me again.

    Bravo, Matt.

  • Anonymous

    Matt,
    Put in my vote for you at NN2011 this year. Glad to see you are going. I used to visit Puffpo on a daily basis myself. I think I was there 2 maybe 3 times over the last 6 months. Last time I actually posted a comment on anything there was probably even longer. Their hard-handed moderation policies turned me off. They don’t like to be called out either for the POOR job they are doing and won’t post links that show them in a bad light. If they post your comment… they delete it later. I get my info from people sharing info on Twitter.
    I did happen to visit HP once tonight to see a story.A tweet reported how HP said Palin ” probably ” bought the house in AZ. Probably..?? Way to go Puffpo. Real investigators and up to date.
    One of the blogs I follow (Politicalgates) had an extensive story about the AZ house purchase and had pictures of her and Todd walking on the property. Forget the ” probably”. This was 24 hours ago.Maybe Huffpo needs to follow blogs like Politicalgates so they can get better up to date info. Their reporters and investigators are not very sharp it seems. You would think they would know how to search the internet… being an ‘ internet blog ‘. * snark *

    I’ll get around to deleting my account like you did. The way they treated Geoffrey Dunn a few weeks who had been a longtime contributor was disgraceful as well.
    Should you start a campaign or something to get the word out to encourage others to drop Puffpo… give me a Tweet. I’ll help spread the word. I am following you. @HnstyNgov:twitter 

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  • Joe Y

    I think it’s clear now than Arianna is not a Liberal or a Progressive…nor is she a Conservative…She is for whatever will benefit Arianna.

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