Since Huffington Post's May 2005 launch and to the present day, Arianna Huffington has been claiming to the public (and presumably, her advertisers) that it is a nonpartisan news and blogging site. Further, she's claimed that HuffPost is better than other news organizations, in part, because as its Editor-In-Chief since the start, she has "prohibited inflammatory claims and conspiracy theories."
HUFF-WATCH was born, in large part, to provide deep investigative research and documentation of the fact that since at least late 2007, (a) Arianna's claims have been lies, and (b) HuffPost has been a radical leftist hate site:
- HuffPost pathologically smears, vilifies and incites hatred against the three primary "targets" of the radical left: conservative individuals & organizations, the U.S. military and Israel and Jews. It does this mainly by publishing "news" stories containing inflammatory, libelous headlines, based on false or grossly decontextualized allegations and conspiracy theories. Further, when proof emerges that shows these stories are false, it typically fails to post this information, or buries it far beyond the view of the casual reader.
- HuffPost also claims it is nonpartisan in its user disciplinary and comment moderation procedures, does not censor users or their comments based on ideology, and that it works diligently to keep its comment threads free of hate comments, etc. Our evidence shows that these claims are also lies. In fact, for years HuffPost has pathologically enabled and protected its long-term radical leftists to violate its Comment Policy in the most egregious ways imaginable, and even to post open threats and solicitations of violence, in response to its incitement. At the same time, it has routinely censors and bans conservative users who dare to oppose, mock or complain about them --- often within minutes.
- Recently, we documented the fact that HuffPost has been enabling and protecting its Moderators --- its internal "police force" --- to post open threats and solicitations of violence against notable conservative public figures and conservative users. (HuffPost promoted several of these users to Moderator status long after it reviewed, approved and published their threats --- including one's claim that President Bush "should be put up against a wall and shot.") These threats, and HuffPost's willful facilitation and protection of users to post them, may constitute violations of federal law.
Of course, not every one of HuffPost's "news" articles and comment threads reflect these biases. It plays just enough "news" and celebrity gossip "straight" to maintain the appearance of responsible journalism. But as our documentation demonstrates in vivid detail, HuffPost is second to none when it comes to screaming headlines containing outrageous falsehoods, and inflammatory, decontextualized allegations about the left's persistent "enemies."The key question we've had about all this
Since beginning HUFF-WATCH, however, one question has lurked in our minds: Was there was a specific point in time that HuffPost's senior management decided to (a) transform it into the hyper-partisan radical leftist hate site that it is now --- yet (b) continue allowing Arianna to publicly claim the site is "nonpartisan," etc.?
Now, nearly six years after its launch, we're much closer to finding our answer, thanks to a blockbuster Vanity Fair article.
Specifically, according to two individuals who claim to have gestated the idea for HuffPost in late 2004, and worked with Arianna to develop it:
- HuffPost's primary purpose was to be the leftist version of Drudge Report
- HuffPost's primary mission was to help re-organize the Democratic Party, and help Democrats win back the White House and Congress in 2008
Because it means that since its May 2005 debut, every time Arianna or one of her sales reps told the public or prospective advertisers that HuffPost is a "nonpartisan" news site, etc., she and other veteran senior management knew it was a lie.
For the first time, inside sources reveal how and why HuffPost was really born, and the purpose it was really designed to fulfill
The Vanity Fair story profiles two political consultants, Peter Daou and James Boyce, who filed suit in November 2010 against Arianna and her partners, to win acknowledgment of what they claim was their indispensable role in conceiving of and developing HuffPost, and a share in the profits that the site has generated. Their damages could be significant; HuffPost is the #1 most-read blog on Earth, and worth an estimated $200-$350 million.
According to the article, HuffPost was formally born at a Dec. 3, 2004 meeting at Huffington's California mansion, attended by 30 or so of the wealthiest leftists in and around Hollywood. The meeting "was billed as an opportunity for “Rebranding the Democratic Party,” and the idea was that “with the right message and the right strategies, the Democrats could regain power in 2006, much the way the Republicans had done in 1994, but only if they finally learn from three consecutive defeats (2000, 2002, 2004) and offer a bold alternative vision to the country.”
Daou and Boyce say that they were the ones who conceived of “a Democratic equivalent of the Drudge Report”—a shorthand description of what the Huffington Post is all about—and called it www.fourteensixty.com (for the number of days between presidential elections).But Daou and Boyce's idea apparently was born thirty days earlier, on election night 2004 --- upon the latter's discovery that President Bush had been re-elected:
According to their 15-page November 14, 2004, memorandum about “1460,” which Boyce gave Huffington before the December 3 meeting, the core objective of the Web site was to “use the potential of the Internet to the fullest extent possible to continue the momentum started during the [2004 presidential] campaign and re-organize the Democratic Party from the outside in, not the inside out.”
Around four a.m. [on November 3] the Kerry brain trust made the decision that Kerry could not win and that he should call Bush and concede. “I walked into the hallway,” Boyce remembers. “I got out my cell phone. First person I called was Arianna. And I called her on her private number at the house, and I just remember telling her, and I was crying.” Huffington tried to comfort Boyce. “Baby, baby, don’t worry, don’t worry,” she told him. “You tried so hard.” Boyce recalls saying over and over, “Yeah, but we lost.”Is what Boyce and Daou say true, or at least substantially true? We have reason to believe it is --- not the least of which is the fact that since 2008, as shown below, that is actually a toned-down description of the no-holds-barred radical leftist hate site that HuffPost now is.
The memory of the loss still hurts him. “I just remember standing in that hallway talking to her [on the phone]. And it was awful. It was just awful,” he recalls. Boyce says he learned two lessons from the Kerry campaign: Republicans “play the game differently, and the Democratic ‘strategists’ in Washington are absolute idiots.”
After licking his wounds, Boyce got to thinking. “How the fuck did we lose?” he recalls wondering. “I mean, how did that possibly happen? You know what went wrong?” He began reflecting on what could be done differently next time. He says he started talking with Thorne about the campaign’s e-mail list of three million Kerry supporters, a valuable asset. “It was almost certainly the largest political list in the world,” he says. “Definitely the largest Democratic list in the world.” (Photo credit: Vanity Fair)
He remembers coming across a statistic—whether true or not is unclear—that in the last 24 hours of the election some 36 million people had visited the Drudge Report.
The numbers swirled in his head—125 million voters, 36 million people on Drudge, and the election was lost because of around 100,000 voters in Ohio—and he had his eureka moment: “John Kerry lost that election because he did not have a Drudge,” he says. “That’s why we lost.” 1460 was born.
“The idea was that it was going to be a Web site, and it was going to be a Democratic site,” he says. “I really looked at it like a tool for the Democratic Party. This was going to be our Drudge. And we were going to do what Drudge did, but for the left.” [...]
Ten days after the election, with Daou’s help, Boyce had a draft of the plan for the 1460 Web site.
So how does one reconcile those facts with Arianna's claims for the past five years, about HuffPost's politics and mission?
Here are some of Arianna's public claims about HuffPost's politics, journalistic standards, etc., from May 2005 launch to the present day. How closely do they reflect the reality of what the site is, and how and why it was gestated? Judge for yourself:
“[T]he news is not right-wing news or left-wing news, it's the news. And that will be the sensibility, that will basically permeate our news coverage.”There is no way to reconcile her statements with the facts. The bottom line is that:
- May 3, 2005
“What we're doing is two things. We do news. I don't believe news is left wing or right wing. And then we do the group blog, which is going to be a dialogue from all viewpoints.”
- May 6, 2005
“The editorial stance of the Huffington Post is to debunk the right-left way of thinking, which has become completely obsolete."
- November 14, 2007
“[T]oo many reporters have forgotten that the highest calling of journalists is to ferret out the truth, consequences be damned.”
- July 29, 2008
“[W]e are increasingly seen ... as an Internet newspaper, not positioned ideologically in terms of how we cover the news.”
- May 22, 2009
- In order to get HuffPost off the ground, Arianna and her cohorts said one thing, amongst themselves and to their investors: that the site was going to be decidedly liberal (we'd argue leftist), and work diligently to help Democrats
- Then, starting a few months later, she began saying the exact opposite to the public, and presumably her advertisers --- that HuffPost is going to be "nonpartisan" and professionally managed --- as she's been doing so ever since, knowing it's been a lie.
The 2008 presidential campaign: Examples of HuffPost's efforts to smear and incite hatred against Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin through false "news" stories --- and its behind-the-scenes collusion with the Obama camp
The following is but a sampling of what we were able to detect, and keep some records of, during the predecessor days of HUFF-WATCH (which opened in May 2009).
(1) 3/16/07: False headline re McCain quote on contraceptives incites torrent of hate comments
HuffPost ran a giant headline claiming McCain said he didn't know if condoms help stop the spread of STDs and AIDS. But that was not the question that he was asked; in reality, he was asked whether contraceptives serve this purpose --- which they do not. HuffPost never ran a retraction --- but did allow users to unleash a torrent of hate comments against McCain.
(2) 4/6/08: False headline, copy claim McCain wrong on Iran - al Qaeda connection; foments misconception-based hate comments (HuffPost: "Approved!!!")
HuffPost allowed one of its "reporters" to claim, in a very sarcastic way, that McCain was wrong when he claimed Iran has any connection to Al Qaeda. Turns out that the documented links between them go back for years --- and this has been widely reported among mainstream newspapers and top-level think tanks. HuffPost ran no retraction, but allowed users to pummel McCain with hate comments.
(3) 4/7/08: A "report" that McCain called wife a c*nt turns out to be nothing more than a vicious rumor --- at best
HuffPost put up a top headline entitled, "McCain Temper Flare-Up; Called Wife A C*nt." Turns out this "report" was nothing more than a salacious rumor, without a single verifiable fact to back it up. (Further, when McCain and his staff vehemently denied this "report", HuffPost failed to put up any headline reflecting this fact.) HuffPost's users submitted extensive hateful comments based on this headline, many of which it approved and published.
(4) Mid-2008: HuffPost calls Cindy McCain "a dick"
Yes, really. But this is now apparently par for the course for "nonpartisan" newspapers who "prohibit inflammatory claims," and are only interested in 'ferreting out the truth, consequences be damned."
(5) 9/6/08: Move On Huffington Post: Lies, Lying and Liars
(6) 9/8/08: Huffing HuffPo Desperate For A GOP Gaffe
(7) 9/13/08: Desperate Times For Democrats - The Huffington Post Lies Again!
2007-08: HuffPost's collusion with the Obama campaign
According to an October 2008 article on Gawker, HuffPost's biased "news" coverage regarding, and support of Barack Obama was not exactly a secret. In the one instance in which a HuffPost blogger exposed a non-favorable aspect of Obama's campaign statements, Gawker revealed (emphasis added):
Was HuffPo biased toward Obama? After the site reported that Obama said "bitter" working-class Americans "cling to guns or religion," HuffPo co-founder Ken Lerer, who himself said to be unhappy about the story, rushed to talk with angry Obama campaign operatives. That would be the same Lerer who convened a fundraiser for Obama at his apartment the year prior, when he was still CEO of Huffington Post.Despite Clinton's repeated allegations, HuffPost issued nothing but denials.
It's worth at least asking whether the Clinton campaign's accusation that the site was a "conveyor belt" for pro-Obama propaganda was more than mere campaign flackery.
It wasn't until three weeks after the election, on November 21, 2008, that Arianna publicly acknowledged for the first time how close she is with Obama:
“I only text (message) three people - my two teenage children and Barack Obama.”
2009-present: Examples of HuffPost false smearing of, and incitement of hatred against conservative individuals and organizations --- especially Sarah Palin and the Tea Party --- via its inflammatory, false "news" stories
The following three examples are culled from our much larger archive of how HuffPost incites and tolerates radical leftist hatred against conservative individuals & organizations.
HuffPost smears Sarah Palin and the NRA, again (users erupt in hate-fest; HuffPost: "Approved!!!")
Did Sarah Palin and the NRA really say they want terrorists on the No-Fly List to be able to purchase firearms? No.
In fact, Palin isn't even quoted in this article.
So why did HuffPost claim they said something so inflammatory, in a screaming front page headline --- which it left up, without correction, for more than ten hours? It also never issued a retraction, or apology.
HuffPost smears Tea Party again, on false charge of racism; user hate-fest erupts (HuffPost: "Approved!!!")
In nonpartisan "newspapers," basic journalistic ethics demand that if one is going to smear an individual or group with a charge as incendiary as having used the "n" word, that the reporter provide one iota, one shred, one kernel of tangible proof. Not so at HuffPost, which allowed one of its Washington "reporters" to make the following claims in this story, as if they were fact: "Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a hero of the civil rights movement, was called a 'ni--er.' And Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) was called a "faggot," as protesters shouted at him with deliberately lisp-y screams."
As it turns out, the only physical evidence in existence (video and audio recordings) shows that these incidents never occurred. HuffPost never posted this evidence --- and never issued a retraction or apology for its false allegations.
(Further, in this follow-up piece, we demonstrate with visible facts that HuffPost is far more "racist" than the Tea Party.)
(Also see this comprehensive report on HuffPost's "journalistic jihad" against the Tea Party)
HuffPost uses Rep. Giffords as a political prop to falsely accuse conservatives, Sarah Palin of inciting shooter
Starting a few minutes after the Tucson shootings, HuffPost apparently decided it was going to try to politically lynch Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, etc., by selectively stringing together allegations and innuendo --- while systematically ignoring mountains of exculpatory evidence that emerged within the first three hours. This includes the fact that two days before the shooting, Daily Kos allowed a radical leftist constituent of Giffords to post an article with the title, "My Congresswoman is DEAD to me!!" (right), and the fact that Democrats had been using "targeting maps" like Palin's, but against Republicans, for years.
HuffPost then reviewed, approved and decided to publish tens of thousands of radical leftist hate comments that its "news" story incited, against conservatives, and even open threats of murder against Palin. Yet when conservatives attempted to post the truth that HuffPost was suppressing, it censored, then banned the users (right).
And in the following week, as HuffPost's false narrative was proven wrong, it not only featured no retraction, it dug in its heels and ran more items that could only serve to further distort the issue and incite more leftist hatred, based on lies --- such as RFK Jr's. allegation that "right-wing extremists" were to blame for both the Tucson shootings, and for JFK's assassination.
Still not convinced? Here are many more richly-documented examples of HuffPost's publication of "news" stories based on lies, deception and smears, that could only serve to incite radical leftist hatred. They are culled from our archives of HuffPost's "journalistic jihads" against conservative individuals & organizations, the U.S. military and Israel and Jews:
Beyond hypocrisy: Arianna Huffington accuses Fox of "inciting" hate
Beyond chutzpah: Arianna Huffington objects to PolitiFact claiming she tells "half-truths"
HuffPost vs the Tea Party: Which one *really* incites and tolerates hate speech & calls for violence?
The Stimulus And The (Approved) Response: Anti-Semitism and Israel-Hatred on Huffington Post
Will any "journalist" or "news" organization hold Arianna to account for her pathological lies about HuffPost --- and its inflammatory lies about others?
Who knows; for now, she actually believes she is "the future of journalism."
Until now, pretty much every major news media outlet has taken a hands-off approach to dealing with Arianna. She enjoys virtual immunity from criticism, or being held to account for her lies, and for HuffPost's pathological incitement and tolerance of hatred. And, like a five-year-old whose parents have never established any limits or accountability, she apparently is determined to keep pushing the boundaries as long as there is no push-back.
In those rare instances in which HuffPost is called out for violating the most basic principles of journalistic ethics and propriety, she has actually claimed that she is what other journalists should seek to emulate:
“[Arianna Huffington] is offended and bewildered by the suggestion that other news outlets think she's getting a free ride. She sees herself as the future of journalism, not the end of it.”
- March 19, 2009
So what say you, American journalists? Are you going to dig --- or continue to be Arianna's willful enablers?
Do you agree that Arianna really is "the future of journalism," and believe that you should aspire to adopt her "journalistic" standards and practices?
Are you going to remain comfortable with the fact that the AP assigned 11 "investigative reporters" to fact-check Sarah Palin's book --- yet not one news organization has assigned a single reporter to examine the six-year legacy of lies by the woman who runs "the most powerful blog in the world," and one of the U.S.'s top ten "news" sites?
Are you going to continue to blindly enable, protect and enrich her and her partners, in part by inviting her onto your news programs, during which everyone except her is held to account for their statements and acts?
Or, are you going to finally hold Arianna to account for:
- The lies that she's been telling since May 2005 over HuffPost's partisan posture?
- HuffPost's deliberate, malicious incitement of hatred against conservative individuals & organizations, the U.S. military and Israel and Jews?
- HuffPost knowingly enabling and protecting radical leftists and anti-Semitic, anti-U.S. military propagandists to violate its Comment Policy at will, and post open threats and solicitations of violence --- while censoring and banning conservative users who complain about, mock or challenge them?
Time will tell. Tic toc.