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TheEmeraldProject On April - 22 - 2011

– Text: escribacat;  Illustration: B.McCue –

I started commenting on the Huffington Post in January of 2009. Over the months, I got to “know”many of the other commenters and soon felt like part of a community. We shared several important things in common: we were political junkies, we leaned left to varying degrees, and we all believed we had found a website that represented our progressive values. Most of us were giddy over the miraculous election of Barack Obama and just about all of us wanted to see him succeed.

The “Resignation” of Joe Biden

Unfortunately, the atmosphere at the website soon began to change. Other posters who had been around longer have said the changes came even before the time when I started there. I soon learned that Huffington’s politics had made a wild swing from right wing to “progressive.” It quickly became apparent that she had created the site, not as a progressive sounding board as so many of us naively believed, but in order to promote herself, establish a power base from which she could sway the political discussion in this country, and simply to make a killing.

After months of growing skepticism about the so-called “progressive website,” my eyes were opened on October 14, 2009. On that day, Huffington made a pompous call for Vice President Joe Biden to resign over the war in Afghanistan. There was no good reason for this resignation, other than the fact that she wanted him to. She landed herself a couple of TV spots and plastered her “campaign” all over the Huffington Post.

Why Joe Biden Should Resign

Arianna Explains Why Joe Biden Should Resign On CNN’s The Situation Room (VIDEO)

Arianna Discusses Health Reform, Why Biden Should Resign On Larry King (VIDEO)

That was the first time I witnessed what would become a recurring phenomenon at the Huffington Post – The Obama-bashing thread. Irate readers, worked up over the headlines and dramatic call for the Vice President’s resignation, were wailing and gnashing their teeth over the war in Afghanistan – a war that Candidate Obama said over and over that he intended to finish. Fortunately for me, among the wailing and gnashing posts, I spotted one, I believe from KevenSeven, inviting folks over to Planet POV.

Rashomon Series: Comparing HP Headlines to Other News Outlets

During subsequent months, I noticed at HP an increasing number of incendiary headlines, many of them obviously designed to portray President Obama or the democrats in general in a negative light. I started a series of Planet POV articles I called Rashomon (a classic Japanese film that tells the same story from four different perspectives). The simple headline comparisons show how Huffington Post headlines were often even worse than those of Fox News and Drudge. Some of these I’ve reproduced below.

February 13, 2010: Afghanistan Push

ABC News: Bombs Slow Big Afghanistan Advance

CNN: Coalition troops find ‘minimal interference’ in assault on Taliban

Drudge: NATO LAUNCHES LARGE AFGHANISTAN OFFENSIVE…

MSNBC: Marines’ taste of Afghan war

LATimes: Marines take key positions in Taliban stronghold of Marja

Associated Press/CBS News: Bombs, booby-traps slow US advance in Afghan town

BBC News: Nato hails major Afghan operation

Fox News: Afghan Push Hits Roadblocks

NY Times: Afghan Offensive Is New War Model

Huffington Post: ‘Mowing The Grass’: Marine Slams Insurgents Clearing Strategy
(Note: The Huffpo headline links to the NY Times story above)

February 9, 2010: Ben Nelson’s Opposition to Obama’s Labor Board Nominee

NY Times: Senate’s Vote on Labor Nominee

MSNBC: Labor nominee vote tests GOP’s new power

CBS News: Ben Nelson Opposes Labor Board Nominee

Drudge: [not mentioned]

Fox News: Dem to Oppose Obama Nominee for NLRB

AP/LA Times/ABC News/Miami Herald: With Nelson, GOP blocks Obama labor board nominee

Huffington Post: Nelson Complicates Obama’s Plans To Demonize GOP As Obstructionists

January 25, 2010: Obama’s budget freeze

NY Times: Obama Seeks Freeze on Many Domestic Programs

LA Times: Obama to seek spending freeze, more aid to middle class

MSNBC: Obama seeks to freeze some spending

CNN: Obama: Freeze non-security, discretionary spending

Chicago Tribune: AP sources: Obama will ask to freeze a part of govt spending for 3 years beginning in 2011

ABC News: OBAMA: Freeze on Non-Security Spending

Washington Post: Obama to put limits on government spending

Fox News: So Long, Spending

Drudge: Not mentioned

Huffington Post: MR. FREEZE

December 27, 2009: Christmas Day airplane terror

ABC News: Christmas Day Terror Suspect Moved to Prison; Air Security Measures Questioned

BBC News: Obama orders air security review

NY Times: More Questions on Why Terror Suspect Was Not Stopped; U.S. Widens Terror War to Yemen, a Qaeda Bastion

LA Times: No sign of wider terror plot, Napolitano says

salon.com: New Detroit plane security scare; Napolitano: No indication of larger terror plot

CBS News: U.S. Reviewing Security, Red Flag Tactics

Fox News: Al Qaeda’s New Playground; Suspect Spent Time in Yemen Prior to Alleged Attack

Drudge: MISERY!

Politico: Obama low-profile after terror attempt

Huffington Post: U.S Keeps Chasing Al Qaeda In Afghanistan While Latest Action Moves Through Nigeria, Yemen, London, Amsterdam

December 11, 2009: Bank reform passed by the House

abcnews.com: House Passes Broad Wall Street Regulatory Overhaul

CNN: House passes bank reform

NY Times: House Passes Far-Reaching Bill Tightening Financial Rules

Foxnews: House Passes Wall Street Regulatory Overhaul

Drudge: (Not mentioned)

The Daily Beast: The Party is Over

Talking Points Memo: House Passes Historic Financial Reform Bill

Slate.com: House Approves Sweeping Financial Reforms

MSNBC: House passes revamp of financial rules

Huffington Post: House Passes Financial Reform Bill Riddled With Loopholes

Generating Outrage with the Non-Story

One tactic the Huffington Post has mastered is generating outrage. The more outrage they can incite, the more clicks they get. They have become so adept at this, they can even generate outrage using a non-story. One example is this story posted in November of 2009 (although the date on the article says June 17, 2010, all the comments are from late November 2009), by Sam Stein and Arthur Delaney: “White House Visitor Logs Show Obama Turned to Business Leaders.”

This article is one of many that covered the controversial and highly suspect issue of the White House visitor logs. The first paragraph says it all:

Through its first nine months in office, the Obama administration frequently consulted with leaders of the business and financial communities they were saving from the brink of collapse, according to a review of White House visitor log records released on Wednesday.

The story goes on to name a number of business leaders who went to the White House. Unlike the implication in the headline, the visitor with the highest number of visits was not “business leaders,” but SEIU president Andy Stern, who visited 22 times (his visit was mentioned way down in paragraph 8). This was far more than the ten visits by Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue, who leads off the second paragraph of the story.  For the most part, this post was a list of names, who they represented, how many times they went to the White House during the period in question, and in some cases, whom they visited (very few visits were with the president himself).

This story generated 4,990 comments.  Some of them were rational, such as “I don’t see anything wrong with Obama meeting business leaders.”

However, as the obvious intention was, a huge number of the comments went along the lines of these :

“They probably all share a bed with BO, too.”

“Even in the campaign, he seemed to want to protect Wall St, and big banks more than the other Dem canidates…” [sic]

“The most important of those meetings? The four with George Soros! Obama is a Soros puppet, folks…”

This thread eventually turned into the nightly music thread, wherein many of the posts were folks complaining that HP had started blocking youtube links.

Wherefore “Obamacare?”

Once the democrats had won the monumental year and a half battle over the Affordable Care Act, Republicans and their mouthpiece, Fox News, soon began demeaning the legislation and the president by dubbing it “Obamacare.” In February of 2011, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla, made a statement on the floor of the House asking the Republicans to stop using the term:

The debate over President Obama’s health care reforms has been raging for years now, but on Capitol Hill today the debate shifted from the merits of the new law to simply how lawmakers should refer to it.

House Democrats say it should be called the Affordable Care Act [ACA], it’s technically named. Most Republicans prefer to call it ObamaCare.

On the House floor this morning Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Fla., argued that GOP lawmakers should be forbidden from calling it “ObamaCare” because that term is disparaging to the president.

“We have rules on the House floor that prohibit members from making disparaging remarks about the President of the United States and the Republicans mean ObamaCare as a disparaging term,” Wasserman-Schultz told ABC News in an interview. “The law is called the Affordable Care Act. It is a law that makes sure that people cannot be dropped or denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. It is a law that makes sure that seniors don’t have astronomically high prescription drug costs. It makes sure that children can get the kind of insurance coverage that they desperately need.”

– ABC News, Feb 18, 2011

Link:

http://blogs.abcnews.com/thenote/2011/02/whats-in-a-word-the-debate-over-obamacare-the-name-the-law.html

Unfortunately, the Huffington Post also routinely uses the term “Obamacare” in its headlines and articles. A few examples:

Vermont Lawmakers Lay Groundwork For Single Payer System In Place Of Obamacare

Did the Heritage Foundation Invent ObamaCare?

Health Care Reform Repeal Debate: Will Obamacare Really Kill Jobs?

ObamaCare? You Bet He Does

The Obamacare Problem Is Not the Individual Mandate

Despite Bashing ‘Obamacare’ As Unconstitutional, Joe Miller Admits He Got Government Health Care

Sarah Palin Targets ‘Obamacare,’ Democrats Who Voted For Reform

Obamacare: The President’s Wooden-Headed Interpretation of Our Constitution

Obamacare: A Health Insurance Subsidy, Not Health Care Reform

Will Obamacare Make the U.S. More Like Europe?

As a comparison, I did the same search for “Obamacare” on other news websites. CNN regularly calls it the “Health Care Law” or “health care reform act” in their headlines. I found only a couple instances where they used the term in a headline. The NY Times does not use the term.  Fox News, ABCnews, and MSNBC regularly use “Obamacare” in headlines. CBSnews used it a couple times in headlines. DAILY KOS and salon.com each used it once.

Huffy’s Not-so-Tweet Undertone

While I was searching for “Obamacare” at the Huffington Post, I discovered that the site now routinely publishes hundreds of thousands of anti-ACA “Featured” tweets.  At the time of this writing, if you do a search on “Obamacare” at HP, you will get 228,000 results. The overwhelming number of these are anti-“Obamacare” tweets.

In April of 2010, Arianna Huffington announced their new “Twitter Editions.”

Tweet, Tweet: Announcing HuffPost’s Twitter Editions

by Arianna Huffington, April 8, 2010

We are launching Twitter editions for each of our 19 sections — with a front page version slated to go live soon. In every section, our editors have hand-selected the most interesting Twitter accounts for that subject — Comedy, Politics, Entertainment, Sports, etc, etc — so you can be sure to get breaking news and on-target analysis as it comes in.

What is this “breaking news and on-target analysis? Who are these “hand-selected…most interesting Twitter accounts for the subject?” Here is a quick run-down of some of the most common tweeters streaming negative messages across the Huffy landscape about “Obamacare:”

  • Amanda Carpenter, a former columnist for the Washington Times (rightwing, owned by the Moonies), and is the author of “The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy’s Dossier on Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Occupation U.S. Senatorial communications advisor; Employer Senator Jim DeMint. Sample tweet: “You know what DOESN’T shutdown in a shutdown? Implementation of ObamaCare. It’s “mandatory”
  • Michelle Bachman. Well, we’ve all seen her on episodes of the Twilight Zone…or news programs, whichever one that was.
  • Justin Hart, frequent guest speaker at CPAC. He “provides political campaign staff training on how to use Internet technologies, advertising engines, e-mail marketing, online fundraising and social networking to win elections.”
  • Ander Crenshaw (R), a Florida congressman who has his own health care reform bill he wants to replace the “Pelosi plan.”
  • NRSC (National Republican Senatorial Committee).
  • RepublicanStudy:  The Conservative caucus in the House of Representatives.
  • Saul Anuzis, “Conservative, MI Republican, RNC, Newt Fan, NRA, Harley Road King, CPAC, RTL, dad of 4 boys!”

Other common tweeters being streamed on HP on the subject of “Obamacare:” Orrin Hatch,,John Boehner, Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), John Cornyn

 

 

50 Responses so far.

Click here to leave a comment
  1. jkkFL says:

    “I’m done with benefits. Guess I should go by a gun because the job market is still pretty lousy. Can’t even get a sniff on temp work.”

    I flagged two responses by the same person encouraging the above to ‘buy the gun, because McD just had a nationwide hiring and she should have gone and gotten a job’.
    The second comment was ‘the want ads are full of jobs, get off your pedestal and go get one’.
    Two comments were removed, as several also flagged him.

    I tried to reply to his third comment- it would not post, (and ‘3 fans’ had been ‘deducted’ )
    I guess it’s more important to pile up the numbers than to address a potentially tragic situation.

  2. Buddy McCue says:

    Latest Non-Progressive headline from The Huffington Post:

    “Paul Ryan’s Budget Becomes Bogeyman Uniting Progressives, Democrats,” by Sam Stein.

    The word “Bogeyman” usually refers to an object of irrational fear. Is Mr. Stein saying that there is actually nothing to fear from Ryan’s budget? Really?

    The article goes on to describe Democrats as “moths” who are drawn around the “first campfire of the season.” Everyone knows what happens to moths that are drawn to open flame, so he doesn’t bother to explain that one.

    Isn’t Sam Stein supposed to be some kind of liberal or something?

    • escribacat says:

      Buddy, Good one. I can see this headline at Fox News or Drudge, can’t you? Yet, as someone below posted, HP is still considered the number 3 top progressive site or something like that. Trojan horse, anyone?

    • escribacat says:

      Great link, jkk. I reposted that to another group (writers). He has an interesting library of other columns as well. Will have to check into those.

  3. Buddy McCue says:

    I really like the comparison of headlines.

    That transparent “stir-up-the-outrage” strategy was always annoying.

  4. ADONAI says:

    I just can’t believe they hired Breitbart. It’s criminal.

    Funny personal story:

    I was over at jackhole’s place a while back and we were discussing HP(spit!) for some reason and jack revealed to me that,for a while, a group of HP posters, led by some regulars, were conspiring to get me permanently banned from HP(spit!). AGAIN!

    At first I didn’t care but then it started bothering me. What on Earth did I do that they wanted me in particular permanently removed from a public message board visited by thousands of people everyday? I guess I should be flattered but am I really that terrible a person?

  5. moongal6 says:

    Ah, we knew she was a snake when we picked her up.
    Our first clue should have been when we discovered who helped her start HP.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/14/956402/-Andrew-Breitbart-Comes-Home-to-HuffPo

  6. AdLib says:

    Escribacat, your Rashomons were amazing and so effective in exposing journalistic agendas such a simple way.

    Might you consider bringing it back?

  7. bettybp says:

    an excellent article; I’ve been on Huffpo since late 2008 and also have witnessed many changes -- although I admit until just lately I’ve enjoyed the give and take banter on both sides.
    Since the AOL takeover though, the tone has changed severely, and the right wing TPub posters have become increasingly more hostile. Huffpo moderators seem to favor the right wingers -- Just a couple of examples: A person(?) named GodGunsBible with an avatar of a bible with a Gun on top, brays: Oh, yeah Libs we’re here to stay, we gonna straighten you out. Another boasts “O-bortion in 2012”; yet another, LockPiatt, who’s fond of quoting founding fathers with a weird T-slant, return posted “Why don’t you post your IQ?” then went on to say he was sure it was not as high as the Tpubs/Trump.
    Though these comments were flagged, they don’t seem to have been taken off. These TPubs often have low fans, and change their name regularly it seems -- the Craig’s list paid posters are making out like bandits, and their goal is to completely take over the site.

    Note that Rachel Maddow this week commented that there was little news about Lib protests in the media; she mentioned Daily Kos for Libs and then said something like Huffpo, “not so much anymore”.
    The main reason many are reluctant to leave is that they don’t like being driven away like so many Sheeple by these agressive bullies.
    There’s still some strong lib posters that are trying to hold out -- but sadly it’s more and more nonsensical. If they can drive people out of the media, and even a site, what’s next? The whole country?
    Who’ll pay the top 2% and corporate buds taxes then?

    • escribacat says:

      Thanks, bettybp. Since the takeover, there has obviously been a largescale coordinated effort to take over the comment threads as well. It would be interesting to know why and how. I thought maybe all the AOL people suddenly showed up, but it was practically instantaneous and really makes me wonder. It’s now just like a lot of other main stream sites, overrun by mentally deranged trolls who post only for one purpose — to get a rise out of people. It’s a sick form of attention, I suppose. My local 9news site is just like that, overrun by people who apparently hate the president, despise any form of government, and can’t stand human beings in general for that matter. It’s simply too toxic to spend any time there.

    • chasethis says:

      bettybp--When I saw Rachel call out HP last evening, I cheered! I still go to HP a few times a week, but just as you’ve described, it’s really time wasted. Name-calling, fact-free bluster and the usual silliness gets us nowhere (although the dive-bombing is kinda fun). I’d love to see more of the wonderfully bright HP posters join in the conversations here at the Planet. I won’t name names, but… okay, I’ll name a couple of names: dutchman, iskra, just for starters.

    • Chernynkaya says:

      Really good comment, betty! But while I definitely understand the need to try to “hold on” to the site from Liberals, I think it is exactly the wrong approach. The site will continue to be swamped by Righties and paid posters. The sooner it becomes their domain the better, becasue that is the only way it will become known as a Rightie site. As long as there are enough Dems and Libs, it will continue to be seen as a progressive site, which it’s not. Once all the sane people leave, it will become known as just another Drudge/Fox/AOL cesspool--and the sooner that happens, the better IMO. As it stands now, the Dems and the Left who stay there are HELPING HPAOL to maintain its status--they are, unwittingly, giving it credibility and helping the enemy.

      I think Libs like us mistakenly think they have a stake in the site in the same way they have a stake in the political discussion. Maybe at one time the site was progressive (but I doubt that). We have lost nothing really-- what we WANT is a real progressive site that has the traffic and weight of HPAOL--we never really had that. I wish all the progressives would leave there and support truly progressive sites--there are quite a few. Think of how much more powerful a REAL progressive site could be, instead of leaching that power to HPAOL.

      • KillgoreTrout says:

        Another point about leaving HP to come here is the difference in intellectual quality. Coming here from HP is like going from the playground to a college debate team.
        Smacking trolls is too easy. There is no real learning process going on there.
        Since I have been here at the Planet, I’ve learned more in just a few months than I did at HP, in several years.

      • chasethis says:

        Now I feel guilty, Cher. Saving grace? I continue to invite good HPosters to the planet whenever the opportunities arise.

    • Truth says:

      Welcome to The Planet bettybp -- who needs HuffPo when there is something much better? But I’m extremely glad that Rachel Maddow is starting to make it clear that Fluff is no progressive outlet (anymore, if it ever was).

      • escribacat says:

        Truth — I agree it’s very important that people like Rachel and KO, who used to have AH on their programs a lot, get their eyes opened about AH and her site and tell others that it’s not what it pretended (and later “unpretended” to be).

        • lynettema says:

          KO has a site now, too. Great for liberals.
          While the Cons seem to have cornered the market on cutesy slogans to push their ideology and agenda, I think it will be US on these liberal blogs that come up with the messaging that will win the election for left leaning candidates. We need to get busy -- maybe even have a contest. Our liberal think tanks don’t seem to help us with messaging.

        • Truth says:

          …that it’s not what it pretended (and later “unpretended” to be). 😆

          And yes, getting people like Rachel and KO to speak out was one of the main reasons for the Emerald series -- nobody seemed to react on the so called progressive credentials right after the AOL deal (let alone earlier). I’m glad that we’re too slow and they come around on their own…

  8. Truth says:

    I think comparing headlines from different news outlets is a pretty good tool to figure out what agenda is pursued by each of them. Very tellingly HuffPo surpasses even Drudge in anti-Obama headlines! That should reveal a little bit something about Huffingtons’ progressive credentials, or rather the lack of…

  9. whatsthatsound says:

    That “Biden Should Resign” headline did it for me too. It came out of the blue. There were probably signs before then, but I either don’t remember them or didn’t notice them. I noticed how anti-Hillary the site was during the primary campaign, so figured HP was finagling for a Obama election (and commented as much -- a comment that was actually allowed back before the days of Uber Moderation). Even then, the Hillary coverage was laced with the kind of vindictiveness and low blows that has become the norm there now.

    • bettybp says:

      After reading this, just checked Huffpo front page -- sure enough, Jason Linkins has a post, “Nobody is sure Joe Biden’s New Deficit Task Force Has a Point”… read a couple pgs of comments, the usual TPub haters, with some brave libs protesting.

      • AdLib says:

        Hey bettybp, at HP it is just a neverending cycle of attacking Obama under the guise of being principled…when in fact, principled people don’t arbitrarily attack others for a commercial agenda.

        HP has been laid bare as disingenuous, the GOP has been laid bare as disingenuous, informed people know this already, it’s up to those who are in the know to share their insights with those who aren’t.

        We can’t change HPAOL or the GOP but we can encourage people to eschew them.

  10. Chernynkaya says:

    E’cat, your Rashamon did more to debunk PuffHo for me than almost anything else. It totally opened my eyes. From then on, when I was there, I automatically went to another site after reading the PH headline and would read the accurate story before commenting. Once, I am proud to say, I actually got into an argument with Shaheen Nasiripour on line. Oddly, I was allowed to criticize anyone there (except the whore), and I was calling him out on his bullpucky when he came on line and asked me what he wrote that was not factual. I told him.

    Before I let, I started noticing the tweets, and now you have unmasked another mystery! They are RW plants! GAWD!

    • escribacat says:

      Thanks Cher. I’m impressed that you inspired a response from Shaheen Nasiripour. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single column from that guy that wasn’t pissing and moaning about something he didn’t approve of.

  11. Pepe Lepew says:

    GEITHNER!!!!!!!! YOU BASTARD!!!!

    I don’t even know what he does, but for some mysterious reason, I’ve been consumed with rage toward him for two years.

  12. Parsifals says:

    While members of POV are writing articles about the nature of Huffington Post it appears the majority of its readers or those aware of the blog still consider Ms. AH a progressive.

    See Alternet’s poll and the results.

    This information should be more widely circulated and promoted to those unfamiliar, unaware or unconscious of the implications and facts this series has revealed.

    • bettybp says:

      Wow, thanks! I for one don’t consider Ms. AH progressive, and judging from a lot of huffpo recent comments, I don’t think that there’s a big majority that still do. When she does an article, she seems to be mostly ignored.

    • escribacat says:

      Thanks for that link, Parsifals. It’s very unfortunate that so many people are still being misled by HP. I really don’t understand it.

      • bito says:

        Online Mags Total Points
        The Nation 66,454
        Mother Jones 59,323
        Huffington Post 50,996
        Truth Out 45,034
        Salon 41,069
        Think Progress 37,252
        The Progressive 32,286
        TruthDig 30,883
        Common Dreams 27,999
        TalkingPointsMemo 27,314

        It is a bit disheartening considering one had to go to Alternet to vote on the poll. Is there some consolation that it wasn’t a scientific poll?


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