Time Celebrates Arianna Huffington, Internet 'Oracle'

Time magazine celebrated Arianna Huffington, the new queen of the left-wing blogosphere, as "The Web’s New Oracle." (The Webster's dictionary definition for oracle is ""a person (or a priestess of ancient Greece) through whom a deity is believed to speak," or "a person giving wise or authoritative decisions or opinions." Despite the Huffington Post’s reputation for rabid left-wing celebrity hate speech, left-wing ideology didn’t really appear until paragraph six of Belinda Luscombe’s sugary piece: "The success of her site has allowed Huffington, 58, to reinvent herself again, from Bush-bashing pundit to media mogul and digital pioneer."

Time implied the site isn’t anti-conservative, as much as anti-hypocrite: "’We like to expose hypocrisy,’ says Katharine Zaleski, the site's news editor. The Huffsters see what they do as curating the news: finding the good stuff from other sources and artfully exhibiting it for the enrichment of the more educated, liberal news consumer."It’s even "populist media done better than it's been done before." That’s odd, considering all the slash-and-burn rhetoric from millionaire Hollywood leftists.

Luscombe’s piece began as a tribute to Arianna’s apparently Olympic talent for flattery, darling:

There is flattery, there is shameless flattery, and there are conversations with Arianna Huffington. She'll talk to old men about their libido, beautiful women about their intelligence, the unemployed about their talent and the wealthy about their artistic depth. In her hands, a compliment is the social equivalent of a Tomahawk missile, launched in stealth at a heavily researched target and perilously difficult to defend against.

Time probably thinks this is perfect: flattering the flatterer. It’s also appropriate because Time editor Richard Stengel wrote a whole book on the history of flattery. Luscombe also concluded the profile with another spoonful of flattery:

Some of the journalistic resentment exists clearly because it's populist media done better than it's been done before. Another part of it is really about Huffington. HuffPo's speedy rise to prominence, courtesy of others' work, reminds some of its founder's own journey. Female ambition is a curious force. When its outlets are blocked, it sometimes seems to settle on the nearest object — a spouse, a child, a cause. But in rare cases, it finds its perfect vehicle. When that happens, it's best to get out of the road or jump in for the ride. Huffington might even let you drive.

Huffington’s move from right to left -- from flatterer of the Gingrichites to flatterer of the Dean-screamers – was dispatched in one paragraph. "Pretty soon, almost virally, she knew everybody, was marrying an oil millionaire (with Barbara Walters for a bridesmaid) and stumping for the Republicans. Almost as fast, she was divorcing said millionaire, who turned out to be bisexual, and becoming a Democratic champion."

This paragraph (number 11) is the one where Time is the most definitive that the Huffington Post is for liberals, albeit the educated ones:

HuffPo is not made for people who like their news straight. As the situation in Iraq got boggy, the economy soured and the Bush Administration's popularity face-planted, folks wanted a place to vent. And when the Obama phenomenon took off and Wall Street collapsed, they wanted a place where they could both celebrate and vent more. HuffPo was the easiest, most satisfying place to do it. "We like to expose hypocrisy," says Katharine Zaleski, the site's news editor. The Huffsters see what they do as curating the news: finding the good stuff from other sources and artfully exhibiting it for the enrichment of the more educated, liberal news consumer.

Or perhaps Time means, that the liberal by definition is the more educated consumer. Earlier, in paragraph eight, it was suggested it was an anti-Drudge Report:

The Huffington Post was hatched at a party here not long after the 2004 presidential election. Former AOL executive Lerer, who professes to hate parties and to barely have known Huffington at the time, had already launched an anti-NRA site. He saw the need for a counterpoint to Matt Drudge's popular right-leaning website. "For about half an hour it was called the Huffington-Lerer Report," says Lerer. "But I'm shy." He and Huffington raised a million dollars, and Lerer brought in Peretti, his buddy from the anti-NRA website. The Huffington Post was to have three basic functions: blog, news aggregator with an attitude and place for premoderated comments.

Time also completely avoided the controversy over Arianna taking down commenters wishing for the death of Vice President Cheney. The "tough" portion of the story only focused on charges of plagiarism by an intern in Chicago.

Another Time article on the Best Blogs of 2009 oozed:

The Observer of London rightly has ranked the Huffington Post as "the most powerful blog in the world." HuffPo hasn't fallen into the usual blog trap of mistaking a rant for analysis; the site publishes consistently thoughtful commentary.

For rebuttal, see our Special Report on "Huffington's House of Horrors." Sean Penn  mocked Rush Limbaugh as a drug addict, Sean Hannity as a “whore” for Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, and Bill O’Reilly for “massaging his rectum with a loofah.” Or: On the Fourth of July, 2006, Baldwin cooked up a double-murder fantasy. After dispatching Osama bin Laden with a box-cutter and hurling his corpse off a high balcony, “in the final stroke of luck, Bin Laden lands on Dick Cheney. God bless America.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis