Her Serene Highness Queen Ratfucker Omnipotent of Medialand, otherwise known as Arianna Huffington, came to Philadelphia yesterday to address the convention of theNational Association of Black Journalists.
Why, I don’t know; but there’s nothing Arianna ever does that doesn’t include promotion of that one thing she loves most in the world (herself), and – true to form, she was on a plug, announcing the start of a special news section at The Huffington Post, exclusively for African Americans, entitled Huffpost Black Voices.
Now, that struck a chord with me, and I’m a white woman born and raised in the South. It seems to me that HuffPo seems to grow like the weed it is and spread like a cancer through the media world, and at the most opportune times. The week that Rupert Murdoch was testifying in Parliament and getting slammed in the smacker with ashaving foam pie, Arianna turned up in London to launch – you guessed it – HuffPost UK Edition. Yep, no sooner than that lying liar tabloid tripe News of the World gets shut down, Arianna gives the Brits a totally online version of her version of yellow journalism. I even speculated that she was in the UK on the off-chance of interviewing Rebekah Brooks, Murdoch’s titian-haired enforcer, for the job of overseeing the British version of her rag – that is, if Brooks doesn’t go to jail.
But then, I would imagine Mrs Brooks would scare the living cack out of the fragrant Mrs Huffington. In a previous life, Brooks (then Rebekah Wade) was married to the absolute biggest star in British television, Ross Kemp, who’s built like the proverbial brick one, and she was arrested and fined for domestic abuse, when she beat the cack out of Kemp one night. On second thought, I hope Huffington hires her.
So now the fact that The Huffington Post has opened up a spic-and-span, banging, brand new section with articles for black people by black people, hit me as being – well, just a wee bit like Jim Crow … Plessey v Ferguson … separate but equal.
It also struck me as a bit strange, and slightly patronising, that Huffington’s message should be subtly divisive. According to the NABJ’s blurb, itself …
she also urged attendees at NABJ’s opening ceremony to examine the “split-screen world” the nation lives in when it comes to black communities.
“Depending on which of the screens you look at, you have a very different view of what is happening, and what the future is going to be like,” said Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The AOL Huffington Post Media Group. “Nowhere is this more true than it is when it comes to the African-American community.”
And how appropos that this was given on our President’s birthday, a man who, depending on the time of day or year, she’s variously described as weak, ineffectual, spineless, cowering and out-of-touch.
On the other hand, another speaker at the NABJ convention, and one who got little publicity and fanfare (not that she’d expect it), was the marvelous Carole Simpson. I well remember Carole Simpson during her stint at NBC in the mid-1970s. I’ve read her book, about how she literally had to fight her way to the top of her profession, whose mandarins not only looked down at her because of her race, but also because of her gender. She was the first African American woman to anchor a network news broadcast and the first of the same to moderate a major Presidential debate in 1992.
When you look at these two women, there really is no comparison. Simpson was born in an age where, for a large section of the country, she couldn’t get served in a restaurant or get a room in a major hotel. She lived through the Civil Rights’ era of Bull Connor, George Wallace, Little Rock, water cannons, Freedom Riders and police dogs. She lived through the bra-burning era of the feminists, and she never lost sight of her goal, whilst retaining all her core principles and professionalism.
Huffington was born into a wealthy family of corrupt politicians. Her money bought her a place at Cambridge. She got a foot in the door of the British politcal media, in her twenties, by sleeping with a well-known, high-profiled British journalist, author and broacaster, Bernard Levin, considered by all to be the most famous journalist of his era. He was forty years her senior and although he managed to get her first two books published (although the second was pulped due to a plagiarism suit), she was never considered to be anything more, in Britain, than an intellectual lightweight, a dilettante and a bad writer.
She fanagled her way onto the edges of the American media machine, by carefully nurturing a friendship with Barbara Walters and later married a fabulously wealthy corporate oilman, spending years as his beard whilst they both tried to climb the political ladder, and then, when he came out of the closet and they divorced, she spent his money.
For all the plethora of books she wrote during this time, they never sold a bundle. It says something, to this day, that Ann Coulter’s books top The New York Times best-sellers’ list (puke), but Huffington has to resort to giving her tomes away.
The Huffington Post was created for one reason and one reason only – well, two, but the minor reason was to ratfuck the Progressive community – and that was the promotion of Arianna Huffington as a bona fide journalist. That’s right, the woman who couldn’t get a byline in The Telegraph, The Guardian, The New York Times, or The Washington Post, had to found an online newspaper in order to publish her snarky op-ed articles.
Her past associations (for career advancement) include Andrew Breitbart, Matt Drudge, Newt Gingrich and Darrell Issa, with whom she partied in Las Vegas the weekend Gabby Giffords was shot and he should have been at home in his California Congressional District with his constituents and his wife.
Now, in this day and age, who’s the best role model for a young woman aspiring to a career in journalism? Fight your ground and stick with the game or sleep and smarm your way to the top. I shudder to think what the choice would be in this generation whose ethos seems to be instant gratification.
Part of Huffington’s brief at the convention, was to field questions from actual attendees and online participants. (Arianna loves anything “online”; look for HuffPo Porn to be her next creation, and look for it to be interactive).
Lester Holt, the weekend NBC Evening News anchor and host of The Today Showmoderated, and here’s the big fail.
Arianna crafted The Huffington Post into the corporate conglomerate it’s become off the backs of unpaid workers – not just the ubiquitous intern (most of whom came from well-off families who subbed their salaries), who not only had to moderate comments, cut and paste from original works to form another aggregate article and man the phones, but also, on occasion, had to unblock toilets, arrange for washing machine repairs, vacuum Madame’s carpets and pick up Arianna’s daughters from their exclusive Brentwood schools; but also legions of bloggers, ordinary people from all walks of life, to whom Arianna, in her malevolent benevolent dishonesty, promised exposure of their work in a positive light, which just might lead to a paid position someplace in the journalistic/media world.
These latter poor bastards wrote alongside their celebrity betters – people like Alex Baldwin, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Huffington’s pet gnome, Bill Maher (you know, expertsin the field of politics and sociology) – who really didn’t have to worry that they were writing for free just to show the world that entertainment people were capable of stringing a sentence or two together coherently.
And, lo, when the day came, that Arianna sold out to the corporate interests she’d heretofore (for radically chic purposes) decried, when she went from being media whore to corporate whore, she dropped “the little pipple, dahlink” like the proverbial hot potato, or – more likely – as though they’d given her a vast cootie infection.
And there’s the rub: Arianna’s empire, her wealth, is based on something that’s just actually a euphemistic form of 21st Century slavery. Odd to think, that, in the cyber age of technological advancement, a moghul like Arianna depends on good, old fashioned plantation slavery to get her message to the people. A message that’s often a screed against anything and everything that our first African-American President does or says.
But, you see, Arianna – brave Arianna! – didn’t flinch at the fact that, at first, Lester Holt appeared to be doing his job in broaching the subject of her use of free, unpaid labour inHuffPo’s production. I mean, that was provocative – this white woman of privilege, who dared to use unpaid slave labour, who brushed off the threat of a strike by all her unpaid, common-and-garden moment with a true “Let them eat cake” moment which would have made Marie Antoniette blanche.
Huffington did not shy away from controversial topics during the quick question and answer session, moderated by NBC News anchorman Lester Holt, and fueled inquiries from Twitter users.
Regarding the Huffington Post practice of using unpaid content, Huffington said while the company employs more than 1,300 journalists, it is also a platform.
“People can choose to participate in the platform, if they have something they want to write that requires wider distribution, or not to participate in the platform,” Huffington said. “We are not dependent on them.”
Oh, so that’s what slavery was all about then. It was a “platform,” where “participants” (read: slaves) could choose to do something for the wider good and comfort of the masters they served, or they could choose not to participate.
Can you imagine Prissy telling Miss Scarlett that she didn’t choose to cook breakfast for Miss Scarlett and Lil’Wade, because she simply didn’t choose to participate?
And the massive fail to this absolutely brassneck example of class and racial privilege, in this setting in particular, arrived when Holt, at the top of his game in his profession, simply passed on challenging her front, which was grossly insulting to her audience, to say the least. In the meantime, protestors from the National Writers’ Union picketed outside.
This incident puts Reverend Sharpton’s take-down of Pat Buchanan’s derogatory and racist reference to the President, into a whole different perspective. I wonder if Al Sharpton had been moderating that session, instead of Lester Holt, if Reverend Sharpton would have let that explanation pass so easily?
Somehow, I think not.