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Arianna: The Huffington Post is not a ‘lefty’ publication anymore

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, April 1, 2011 11:45 EDT
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In a recent interview with The New York Times, Arianna Huffington revealed a bit of news that’s not likely to show up on The Huffington Post’s front page any time soon: the site is no longer “lefty” in its political bent.

That will likely come as a surprise to the massive audience of Democrats and liberals The Huffington Post has attracted over the years, who’ve turned the site into a powerful voice for progressive values and one of the largest online publications going.

Speaking to New York Times reporter Andrew Goldman, Huffington said that for the last three years she has been walking the post-partisan talk.

“The tag line that we’ve used a lot is ‘Beyond left and right,’” she reportedly said.

The Times‘ writer fired back, suggesting that she was “trying to tell me that Smurfs aren’t blue” by claiming that The Huffington Post was not founded as a “lefty” publication.

“I’m just telling you that it is very clear that we have progressive views, but to call everything we’re doing lefty — it misses the whole point that American policy needs to be redefined beyond left and right,” she reportedly said. “It’s a completely obsolete view of politics.”

“Still, I’m amazed you’re trying to tell me that The Huffington Post wasn’t started as a lefty blog?” Goldman asked.

“I’m not trying to tell you anything,” she reportedly replied. “I’m telling you things. I’m not trying, O.K.?”

The interviewer also claimed that “salacious,” “boob-related” posts on Huffington’s front page tend to get his clicks more than their original reporting — a point Arianna said was “really a shame.”

The published text of Huffington’s interview was “condensed and edited,” according to a tag below the piece.

Huffington has of late been feuding with Bill Keller, the Times‘ executive editor, who recently compared her business practices to “Somali piracy.”

The Huffington Post has significantly more readers than The New York Times.

But in recent months Huffington has been under fire from liberals and progressives, namely due to AOL’s announcement that it was purchasing the site and making Arianna the editor-in-chief of its new Huffington Post Media Group, under which all their editorial content now falls.

Some 900 of AOL’s global employees were let go after the Huffington Post purchase, representing about 20 percent of its workforce. The majority were in back-office operations in India.

AOL reportedly paid $315 million for the site, sparking an outcry from a group of unpaid Huffington Post contributors who demanded to share in the proceeds.

That was a sore spot for many writers, who’ve targeted Huffington’s business model of not paying most contributors as a factor leading to the decline of journalism. Numerous writers and a swath of readers even openly quit the site in protest, insisting that the failure to pay most contributors was a factor leading to the decline of journalism.

Challenged on this point by the Times, Huffington pushed back, saying there’s no evidence to support claims that the site has negatively affected journalism.

Even after all that, Huffington came under heavy criticism yet again recently when a post by controversial right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart landed on their front page.

They defended the move, noting that it attracted an enormous number of page views, but later announced that Breitbart’s posts wouldn’t appear on the front page again after he made negative comments about former Obama appointee Van Jones to a different outlet.

Read the Times‘ full interview here.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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