WASHINGTON — Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, has dismissed as "utterly without merit" a lawsuit filed against the website claiming compensation for unpaid bloggers.
Huffington, who sold The Huffington Post to AOL two months ago for $315 million, said the vast majority of contributors to her news and opinion site are happy to do so for free because of the exposure it gives them.
Jonathan Tasini, a freelance journalist, sued The Huffington Post on Tuesday and is demanding at least $105 million for unpaid bloggers on the grounds that they should be compensated for the value they have created for the website.
Tasini is seeking to have the suit accepted as a class action representing more than 9,000 writers and others who contributed material to The Huffington Post for free since it was launched six years ago.
Huffington, in a blog post late Wednesday, said the lawsuit is so "utterly without merit" that she is "hesitant to take any time away from aggregating adorable kitten videos to respond."
The kitten reference is a jibe at Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, who called Huffington recently the "queen of aggregation" and said part of the appeal of her site is its "adorable kitten videos."
On a more serious note, Huffington said "our group blog is part of our DNA.
"We are proud of the impact it has had as a platform that amplifies the voices of those who contribute to it, and enables a wide variety of people to reach larger audiences with their ideas, opinions, passions, books, movies, causes and candidacies.
"People blog on HuffPost for free for the same reason they go on cable TV shows every night for free: either because they are passionate about their ideas or because they have something to promote and want exposure to large and multiple audiences," she said.
"Bottom line: the vast majority of our bloggers are thrilled to contribute -- and we're thrilled to have them," she said. "Indeed, we are inundated with requests from people who want to use our platform."
Huffington also noted that unpaid bloggers are not the only contributors to The Huffington Post. "We also employ a newsroom staffed by hundreds of full-time editors, writers and reporters," she said.
The Huffington Post attracts some 25 million unique visitors a month to its lively mix of news, entertainment, opinion and blogs submitted by academics, entertainment figures, politicians and others.