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Marion On August - 26 - 2010

Arianna Huffington is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. She fancies herself a powerful voice in the world of American Progressive politics, and I suppose she is, although I’ve always doubted the liberal credentials of someone who was closely-knit, literally and figuratively, into the framework of Newt Gingrich’s political philosophy throughout the 1990s. People change, yes, but lasting, believeable and genuine change is often of the calibre which occurs slowly, almost imperceptibly, throughout a number of years – much in the way the conservative former Supreme Court Justice, John Paul Stevens, evolved from a conservative jurist into the liberal conscience of the Court.

So pardon me, a natural secularist, if I found Huffington’s Damascene conversion from hardcore neocon and Gingrich neophyte into a fully paid-up member of the Progressive Populist club, practically overnight, more than a bit difficult to swallow.

Even harder to accept was the ease with which the liberal media readily accepted her within their fold. More than Mitch McConnell “taking the President’s word” that he’s a Christian, the media elite embraced this woman as one of their own.

She certainly has been making the rounds – from Morning Joe to various appearances on CNN, with stops in between on Ed Schultz’s and Keith Olbermann’s echo chambers, as well as a quasi-regular stint on ABC’s This Week – especially when there’s an opportunity to criticize whatever the President has said or hasn’t said, has done or hasn’t done, which hasn’t met her personal standard of excellence. And then, there’s always the opportunity for her particular brand of argumentum ad hominem. I believe her favourite reference to the President is “Nowhere Man.”

Don’t get me wrong. Politicians were made to be criticized, their feet being fashioned to be held to the fire by the people who elect them; but – Lordy! – according to Arianna Huffington’s political perspective, it’s amazing that the President is able to walk down the street and chew gum without tripping up. There’s criticism, there’s nitpicking … and there’s cherry-picking.

However, I’ve noticed, during yet another summer of discontent, that Madame’s been curiously quiet of late, starting right about the time of the Shirley Sherrod/Andrew Breibart incident.

In an interview printed earlier in the year in Wired magazine, Breitbart amply credited Huffington as being  his mentor, saying she’d taught him everything he knew about his particular type of journalism – which is, at best, described as “press hackery” and, at worst, as a variety of ratfucking: shady, oblique quotes from anonymous sources, phrases and sentences taken out of context and spun with a view to imparting a message completely different from the original, and loads of nuanced criticism, which never offers any alternative suggestions, but always ends with a sneer and more than a dollop of condescension.

Needless to say, the interview went viral in the age of the internet, and more than a few of the many people who comment regularly on Huffington Post were quick to point out, not only the association between Huffington and Breitbart, but also the fact that Breitbart was the co-founder of HuffPo, himself.

This guilt by association was just enough to jog some memories of Huffington the virulent neocon of the Nineties – neophyte of Newt and the founder of a website dedicated entirely to securing the impeachment of one President William Jefferson Clinton, Democrat. It was also enough, for awhile, for several commentators to slam accusations of “Breitbart journalism” against certain of her regular reporters, each time their “reporting” proved to be shoddy and inaccurate – which was quite a lot.

The dots were connected.

Huffington never referenced Breitbart, and, although her site offered many and varied articles concerning Shirley Sherrod, Fox News and the Obama Administration, with most of the blame being heaped heavily onto the President’s shoulders, she never offered up a word, distancing herself from this man and his shady practices, never reassured her adoring gaggle of fans that she totally condemned what he’d tried to do. She simply ignored the name Breitbart altogether, as if he didn’t exist in her fragrant world of expensive facials, debutant balls and speaking up for the “small people.”

It seemed as though Arianna, for once, had lost her mighty voice.

And now, with all the kerfuffle surrounding the Park51 incident in New York, all the not-too-cleverly disguised innuendo insinuating that Muslims, as a whole, are to be feared, vilified and persecuted, we’ve yet to hear Mrs Huffington expound upon this. The verbal attack on a construction worker, trying  to thread his way through the New York mob, who appeared to “look Muslim” didn’t raise a whimper of protest from Arianna’s throat.  Nor did the fact that recent polls reveal an increasing number of people seem to suspect our President is a Muslim. These are ordinary people who believe this, the sort of people for whom Arianna claims to speak, especially in her recent book, which has yet to climb onto the New York Times best-seller list.

Arianna, who always speaks the truth (according to her dittoes), should be guiding and enlightening these people to the contrary.

Instead, she’s uncharacteristically silent.

Sometimes silence reverberates more astoundingly than a plethora of loud and gratuitous criticism, and sometimes silence can be interpreted as tacit assent.

In days of yore, in the Nineties when the budget was balanced and everyone believed they had money in their pockets, Arianna was the First Disciple in the Church of Newt Gingrich. Now that Newt’s likening the Muslims to Nazis, one wonders if the sheets Arianna might be thinking of donning are made of designer-labelled white linen.

9 Responses so far.

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  1. dildenusa says:

    I would think that Arianna as a Greek Orthodox Catholic still has some animosity toward the Muslims since Greece was controlled by the Ottoman Turks from the 14th century until 1830.

    Even though I think the term Damascene conversion has been overused (there is some controversy as to where St. Paul was actually headed when he had his miraculous conversion) you can use it any time you want along with the term ratfucking.

    • choicelady says:

      didenusa -- I think you can find those two terms together in Corinthians. But I could be wrong.

      Marion this is a REAL eye-opener! I had no idea Breitbart had ties to Arianna. I know her RD (see above) conversion was deeply suspect -- never saw how she got from closeted hubby to here, and obviously while she might NOT have passed “Go” she collected more than $200. I have seen her around town since the Park51 controversy, but not ON that issue in any way.

      What worries me is, as with the way the Dominionist extreme Christians are “steeplejacking” progressive and even just moderately liberal churches by sowing seeds of dissent over nothing, so I wonder -- who are these people who keep claiming they represent “progressive” values. We’ve seen Bill Maher, now Arianna, who CLAIM to be liberal or progressive but aren’t. Arainna’s “solutions” all come from other people who’ve been working on them for decades. To wit -- community banking. But when it comes to examining issues deeply she is missing in action.

      Headline after headline decries Obama’s “failures” such as the foreclosure assistance which asserted that the administration’s assistance programs CAUSE foreclosures. However, she must have left her blue pencil at home because in another section she had an article about two federal programs that have SAVED 70-85% of the applicants’ homes FROM foreclosure, and that totalled several MILLION families.

      So which IS it? I asked that question -- and got obliterated as you might expect. Story after story is “Gawd -- ain’t Obama AWFUL” and then the portent of doom predicted in the fevered headline never comes to pass. Some readers are complaining about the increasing sensationalism, but I see (and am allowed to post) fewer and fewer complaints against the Divine Ms. H. or any aspect of bad reporting. I do think in sum, HuffPo has been Breitbarted.

      So who IS Ms. H.???? Who is she REALLY? Inquiring minds want to know…

      I think we have a fifth column. And they scare the crap out of me because if I have to watch my left flank as well as my right, I’m going to get a crick in my neck.

      • dildenusa says:

        I didn’t really get involved in blogs until about 2 -- 3 years ago so I don’t know a lot about Arianna’a Damascene conversion. But I do know one thing. The psychology behind the old saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” is alive and well among the high placed media types and pundits today as well as politicians of all stripes.

        The old republican establishment of which the Bush and McCain families are a part of, despises the Christian holy rollers and dominionists. But when push came to shove they used every trick in the book to get the holy rollers to get out and vote. I mean look at who McCain picks for his running mate. Need I say more.

        It’s safe to say that Arianna Huffington is an opportunist and a wolf in sheeps clothing.

        • choicelady says:

          I totally agree and agree equally about the pure selfish instrumentalism of the establishment’s use of the Dominionists. I think, however, that the sheer cynicism of people such as Reagan should not blind us to his secret alliance with Dominionists -- he loved Rushdoony (even though as an adulterer, he would be stoned in Rushdoony’s world) and that made Reagan’s own pastor very nervous.

          In the early Spring you all should look for a book by Leah Burton, “Palin’s America: God, Guns, and Greed”. It will be a blockbuster of expose on the degree of infiltration into our society of the Dominionists in politics. Leah has a blog, godsownparty.com that offers up quite a lot about these folks and their desire for global domination. (And how nice to be on The Planet where such cross reference is not banned! Thanks, AdLib!)

    • AdLib says:

      Rudy, welcome to The Planet!

      Thanks for the link. Not surprising Breitbart plays himself up as a man of vision and the WT plays him up as a genius even though we later found out why he hid all the truths about the ACORN video…namely that it was edited by him and his cohorts to fraudulently portray people at ACORN giving advice on prostitution.

      And Breitbart’s Sherrod fraud blew up in his face, she’s suing him and she has huge damages, she will take him down because the same tactics that WT celebrates are the same unlawful ones that a judge will use to determine his libel and defamation of Sherrod.

      Live by the fraud, die by the fraud.

      As for his association with Arianna, two birds of a feather. Neither has resolute convictions outside of being the most famous, powerful and wealthy they can be.

      I mean, come on, his excuse for helping set up HP is so everyone can see how horrible liberals are?

      Who outside of teabaggers would believe such BS?

      Once again, welcome to The Planet, Rudy!

      • Rudy says:

        Thank you AdLib, I’m glad I found this site. I haven’t been to HuffPo in almost a year. I got sick and tired of my posts getting censored while trolls are welcome to say whatever BS they want.

        I don’t believe in judging anyone by who their associations are but Breitbart is the CO-FOUNDER of HuffPo. I can see his fingerprints all over the site and as far as I’m concerned, Huffington Post is just as much Breitbart’s as it is Adrianna’s.

        It’s sad. Many Progressives and Liberals critisized the Obama Administration for being bambozzled by Breitbart’s lies when it fact, we are too, being bambozzled by him, with help from Adrianna.

        How can we get information like this to go viral?

        • AdLib says:

          Glad you found us too. At The Planet, we believe strongly in Freedom of Expression. Earnest Repubs are welcome here but trolls are not.

          The word is getting out but we do need to keep getting it out.

          Check out some of the articles written here over the last year about HP here and feel free to spread links around:

          http://planetpov.com/category/news-and-politics/the-media/huffington_post/

          Today I saw another lead story at HP that attacks Obama. How does supposedly Progressive HP greet Obama announcing his campaign promise brought to fruition, pulling combat troops from Iraq, “Obama Iraq Speech: Out With The Old War, In With The Older War”.

          They prove their loyalty to whipping up conflict (sensationalism increases visits and ad revenue) over any principles.

          This is the Fox News and Breitbart formula, indeed.

  2. Moist Robot says:

    Fun to read, Marion! I did not know of the link between Breitbart and Arianna. What that further establishes for me is that the gradations of relationships in both politics and the media (as elsewhere, really) is a spectrum with shifting allegiances in time and ambiguously categorizable self-held ideologies. People get invited to cocktail parties and find that their children attended the same soccer camp. That maybe in and of itself enough to temper a publicly held political position that seems well defined by the outside. In addition, Arianna may have been the obverse of the neocon as “mugged Liberal”. I disagree that the most stable and deep change occurs with time. I think it can happen more quickly, as epiphany. Re AH, who knows? She seems to be enigmatic.
    I love “ratfuck” and so many of the other terms and word usages in articles past!


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