If someone's going to play speech police, one might think it would be wise to make sure her own house was in order prior to hurling charges. But, for Arianna Huffington, editor of The Huffington Post, there are two sets of rules.
Huffington, in an appearance on HLN's Feb. 2 "The Joy Behar Show," defended a Jan. 12 post by the Huffington Post's TV-Radio critic Bill Mann, which he called the network "a malignant tumor on the body politic."
"Yes, well, first of all, there's a big distinction between who your anchors are, who are your employees and what they are saying and what your bloggers are saying," Huffington said. "And in our case, of course, what he said, what our blogger he was quoting said, was started by Roger, because he never called him a tumor. He said Fox was a tumor, on American society, which is a legitimate view that many people hold."
The blog post had been brought up on ABC's Jan. 31 "This Week," when Huffington attempted to criticize Fox News chairman Roger Ailes for "the language" Glenn Beck uses on his Fox News show that she finds objectionable. Ailes responded by explaining her blog, The Huffington Post, also crossed some boundaries. Nonetheless, Huffington alleged Beck was a threat to civil discourse.
"But more important is the fact that Roger never really answered my fundamental charge which is that there's Glenn Beck warning his audience that they are going to be the next victim of the killing spree and that they are going to be slaughtered. That health care is - health care reform is going to be the end of America as we know it," Huffington said. "Now, you could say these are just fantastical statements but at a time of real pain, at a time of real anxiety out there, it is dangerous to be making statements like that that are completely paranoid based on no fact at all. And Roger actually said that when Glenn Beck made the statements, he was referring to Stalin and Hitler."
Later in the program, Huffington took another shot at Beck and one at conservative talker Rush Limbaugh as well because for "strong positions based on fantasy" in a discussion about Limbaugh's participation in the recent Miss America pageant.
"I think it's really important to make a distinction between strong positions based on fact and strong positions based on fantasy. And that's really the problem with Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck, you know, that they are basically saying anything. It doesn't matter if it's based in reality or not. That's a distinction we all need to be very conscious of," Huffington said. "It's not just what political perspective you're endorsing. But is what you are saying factual?"
But host Joy Behar reminded Huffington that even though their point of view varies from hers and Huffington's, their "stupid speech" was still protected.
"So I guess making stuff up is still protected by the 1st Amendment, right?" Behar said. "So their stupid speech, then we can counteract it with what we say, isn't that how it works?"