Progressive fans of the Huffington Post aren’t too happy about the site being acquired by America On-Line. Now, they may have another reason to lament the purchase.
A source close to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, a former Google executive hired in 2009, told Business Insider that while he “calls himself a libertarian,” Armstrong is in fact “one of the most conservative people around.”
Armstrong’s personal politics were largely unclear due to a lack of public statements. He could not be reached for comment on this story and a message left with AOL’s corporate relations department went unreturned at time of this story’s publication.
Armstrong has also donated to a number of politicians including New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, and according to records available online he also gave to Republican Thomas Herrmann in his 2010 run for Congress in Connecticut. Armstrong’s wife has also donated to Republican causes, Insider added.
Herrmann dropped out of his congressional bid mid-way through the local Republican party’s primary.
The Internet provider, which has been steadily losing subscribers for years, has been trying to re-brand itself as a content provider by launching sites such as the local news site Patch and and the citizen-journalism site Seed. In addition, AOL owns numerous other sites, including Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone, MapQuest, Black Voices, PopEater, AOL Music, AOL Latino, AutoBlog, StyleList, and more.
“Our motto right now is ‘great content with great ads,’” Armstrong said on PBS’s NewsHour Monday. “We see the internet needing to have a cleanup of how it looks and feels in the next progression of it. It hasn’t changed much in the last 15 years.”
AOL agreed to purchase The Huffington Post for $315 million, approximately $300 million of which will be paid in cash and $15 million in stock.
An informal survey of 500 Huffington Post commenters conducted by The Daily Beast found that 81 percent opposed the acquisition while only 19 percent expressed some optimism about it.
“We made HuffPost and we are being abandoned,” one commenter wrote. “They will aim for the center. That’s where the big money is.”
Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post’s co-founder and editor-in-chief, has been trying to downplay the importance of partisan politics after the announcement.
“We don’t see ourselves as left,” Huffington told Politico. “And I think it’s one area where news consumers are ahead of the media, because they know that continuing to see everything that’s happening as a right-left issue is missing what’s happening, and is also making it much harder for us to be properly informed.”
AOL has also agreed to create the Huffington Post Media Group, which will put Huffington in charge of all the company’s editorial content.
Huffington said her website will continue after the acquisition “on the same path” it has been for the last six years, although now much faster.
“This is truly a merger of visions and a perfect fit for us,” she added.
Huffington was married to oil millionaire Michael Huffington, a close Republican friend of the Bush family, who represented California in US House of Representatives in the 1990s and unsuccessfully ran for the US Senate in 1994.
The couple divorced in 1997, and in 1998 Michael Huffington revealed that he was bisexual.
Following her divorce, Huffington, who used to campaign for her husband as a staunch religious conservative, switched to liberalism.
She launched The Huffington Post in 2005, shortly after Raw Story began its work, pitching the site as an alternative to conservative news websites like the Drudge Report.