Thursday, April 14, 2011

HuffPost's repeated public claims that it is "nonpartisan" in its news coverage

As HUFF-WATCH has been documenting since 2007, HuffPost pathologically smears, vilifies and incites hatred against the primary "targets" of the radical left: conservative individuals & organizations, the U.S. military, 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, HuffPost typically fails to post this information, or buries it far beyond the view of the casual reader.

Since its beginning in May 2005, Arianna Huffington has served as HuffPost's Editor-In-Chief.  And since then, she has persistently claimed that HuffPost is nonpartisan, and only adheres to the highest journalistic standards.  

HUFF-WATCH has proven, in over 400 investigative articles, this is a lie - and it has been since day one.  

As this article documents, it wasn't until April 2013 -- nearly eight years since its launch -- that Arianna finally admitted, for the first time, that HuffPost is not engaged in journalism, but rather, "crusading journalism."

Here is a chronology of public claims by her and other senior HuffPost executives about its (supposed) nonpartisanship and journalistic standards, etc., from May 2005 launch to the present day. 
“[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.”
Arianna Huffington, 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.”
Arianna Huffington, May 6, 2005
[Betsy] Morgan, [HuffPost's] C.E.O., described the Huffington Post approach as "covering the news in a 21st-century kind of way." In addition to new ideas about balance and fairness, that approach includes a new business model too. 
Conde Naste, November 14, 2007
“The editorial stance of the Huffington Post is to debunk the right-left way of thinking, which has become completely obsolete."
Arianna Huffington, Conde Naste, November 14, 2007

“[T]oo many reporters have forgotten that the highest calling of journalists is to ferret out the truth, consequences be damned.”
Arianna Huffington, July 29, 2008
“[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.”
Time interview, March 19, 2009
“[W]e are increasingly seen ... as an Internet newspaper, not positioned ideologically in terms of how we cover the news.”
Arianna Huffington, May 22, 2009
“We are aiming to go beyond just facts, to create a narrative,” said Huffington, who thinks the speed of news helps attract visitors to the site. “We think bringing journalism to a new level is exactly what people are looking for.”
- Arianna Huffington, October 20, 2009
On February 1, 2010, Arianna lectured Fox News on why it should adopt HuffPost's journalistic standards.  HUFF-WATCH obliterated the gargantuan lie contained in the first sentence here.  Excerpts:
"[At HuffPost] there are guidelines that have to be followed -- and they include a prohibition on conspiracy theories or inflammatory claims.  These are actually very good ground rules for Fox News to adopt. I'll send you a copy and cc Roger. For context, it's good to remember that Glenn Beck didn't come out of nowhere. He's the latest example of what the great historian Richard Hofstadter called 'the paranoid style in American politics,' which he defined as angry minds that traffic in 'heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy,' and that see 'the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms... always manning the barricades of civilization'." 
On Feb. 6, 2010 it was announced that AOL had purchased HuffPost, and hired Arianna to act as President and Editor In Chief of all its content --- including its “news.”  In response to several reporter inquiries as to the political slant of HuffPost, Arianna responded by reiterating its supposed nonpartisan principles and standards:
“We don’t see ourselves as left."
Arianna Huffington, to Politico, Feb. 8, 2010

"It's time for all of us in journalism to move beyond left and right... [A]ll voices have been welcome at the Huffington Post"

Arianna Huffington, to Hollywood Reporter, Feb. 7, 2010

"It's time for all of us in journalism to move beyond left and right."
Arianna Huffington, to The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Feb. 7, 2010
On February 9, 2010, after Arianna repeated her claim to the Daily Caller that its political coverage is “beyond left and right”:
“First of all, people forget that the Huffington Post now consists of 26 sections and only 15 percent of our traffic comes from politics,” Huffington said. “There is just an enormous array of content offerings. Beyond that, if you look at our political coverage, it’s what I describe as beyond left and right and we are determined to make it clear that having multiple views on all issues is just a new way to look at how political coverage proceeds rather than reflexively dividing each issue as a left wing and a right wing position.”
When asked directly if the Huffington Post would have a politically left-wing influence on AOL, Huffington responded, “Of course not.”
Two days later, on February 11, Arianna appeared on her friend Bill Maher's HBO show, on which he also asked whether she is going to drive AOL to the left. She vehemently denied it:
"This is so funny, such a red herring. First of all 95% of all the content on Huffpo is about entertainment, lifestyle and information. Not about politics."
(And of that last 5% that she admits is political?) "What is left-wing about caring for the middle class, about caring about the fact there are 26 million people unemployed?"
Not a single reporter asked her how HuffPost's political coverage could be 15% of its content one day, and only 5% when asked the same question, 48 hours later. 

February 2011: The origins of HuffPost's deception, and its lies to the public and its advertisers, is revealed

Despite all of Arianna's claims of nonpartisanship, the truth came to light in the form of a lawsuit filed against her by the architects of HuffPost.  A February 2011 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 (a) acknowledgment of what they claim was their indispensable role in conceiving of and developing HuffPost, and (b) a share in the profits that the site has generated.  

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 (for the number of days between presidential elections).
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.”
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:
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." [...]
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 site that would become HuffPost].
The public deception aspect of the HuffPost plan is clearly spelled out in the original document that Daou and Boyce drafted, which served as the nucleus of the site's architecture:
  • "(The site) will be a Democrat-leaning site with enough non-partisan news so as to appear more mainstream than it truly is; this is critical for credibility and for advertising revenue."
    (page 4)
  • "There will also be sites to defend and drive opinion on issues such as the environment, the Supreme Court, and Social Security issues.  Additional sites could include efforts to improve the Democratic standing with Hispanic voters, gay/lesbian voters, and more.  Virtually any major Democratic initiative can be served by a well placed and well run website."
    (page 6)

April 2013: Arianna finally admitted that HuffPost is not practicing journalism, but rather, "crusading journalism"

In response to criticism about HuffPost's egregious bias and overt activism in regards to the gun control debate, Arianna responded to Politico:
Such responses have earned widespread praise from the proponents of expanded background checks, but others question such advocacy can still be defined as honest journalism. “I call it crusading journalism in the spirit of Upton Sinclair,” Arianna Huffington, the president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post, told POLITICO, adding that she was proud of her editors.


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