It’s been slow in coming but (now that the shock has dissipated) some liberals are finally giving voice to their awe over Arianna Huffington‘s decision earlier this month to allow The Huffington Post to be bought by AOL for the princely sum of $315 million (mostly in hard, cold cash). Providing a forum for said voices is a blog which labels itself “Hey Arianna, Can You Spare A Dime?” The blog provides its reason d’etre:
Hey Arianna, Live Up To Your Ideals!
In her book “Third World America,” Arianna Huffington wrote, “It’s no longer an exaggeration to say that middle-class Americans are an endangered species.”
Her book takes to task the greedy tactics of rich bankers who have made it all but impossible for working people to earn a living wage in these harsh economic times.
In her book, it’s clear that she envisions herself a champion of the middle class and a defender of the little guy.
We applaud Ms. Huffington’s position on the working class. Which is why we feel it’s so important for her to understand that the policies of her proudly progressive publication contribute to the economic woes of this nation by driving down the value of journalism.
This $315 million buyout by AOL, along with her $4 million annual salary as part of the deal, was built on the backs of hard-working writers who never saw a dime for their labor. Many of Huffington Post’s most productive contributors broke news and provided astute analysis to regular beats, allowing Huffington to avoid hiring a paid journalist for the same coverage.
We call on Ms. Huffington to live up to the ideals she so earnestly professes and share some of her profits with the people responsible for the Huffington Post’s 117 million unique visitors each month.
Otherwise all her passionate words in defense of workers only ring hollow.
The Newspaper Guild, a sector of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union, initiated an online campaign designed to lobby Huffington to do the right thing & share her wealth:
We are calling on Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington to invest in quality Journalism by sharing a portion of fortune with the people who made her successful.
Dream on, comrades. Huffington has ALWAYS been an ardent student of the George Soros School of Opportunism. Even San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra J. Sanders was left breathless over the deal:
Whatever happens, you have to admire Huffington’s chutzpah. Having played the left-wing card to attract like-minded readers, Huffington and her venture capitalist pals will have made millions off a website that doesn’t pay most of its writers.
Remember HuffPo’s big scoop during the 2008 presidential election? Writer Mayhill Fowler recorded then-presidential candidate Barack Obama as he told swells at a San Francisco fundraiser that blue-collar voters “get bitter” and “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them.”
Last year, Fowler quit writing for HuffPo because the website refused to pay her. “Citizen journalist,” Mayhill Fowler discovered, has a very specific meaning: Free.
As Fowler opined on her own Nattering-on blog Tuesday, the merger “gives the lie to (Huffington’s) frequent assertion this past year that she is pro Main and con Wall Street. Of course, the hypocrisy of her ‘let’s hear it for the little people’ mantra has already been undercut by her refusal to pay bloggers like me.”
Of all the liberals venting their anger at Huffington, Chris Hedges of Truthdig gets to the heart of a matter to which many of his comrades are either blissfully ignorant or willfully obtuse:
Any business owner who uses largely unpaid labor, with a handful of underpaid, nonunion employees, to build a company that is sold for a few hundred million dollars, no matter how he or she is introduced to you on the television screen, is not a liberal or a progressive. Those who take advantage of workers, whatever their outward ideological veneer, to make profits of that magnitude are charter members of the exploitative class. Dust off your Karl Marx. They are the enemies of working men and women. And they are also, in this case, sucking the lifeblood out of a trade I care deeply about. It was bad enough that Huffington used her site for flagrant self-promotion, although the cult of the self has reached such dizzying proportions in American society that such behavior is almost expected. But there is an even sadder irony that this was carried out in the name of journalism.
Blogger Jeff Bahr summed it up best when he made, in part, the following observation on “Hey Arianna, Can You Spare A Dime?”: (Comedian Bill) Maher and Huffington belong to a club (wealth) that transcends politics and principles. The late Comedian George Carlin put it best: “It’s a big club and YOU’RE not in it!” What more do you folks really need to know?
DRINO that she is, Huffington will find some creative way to spray rationales that will disguise the odor emanating from her deal. Some will accept whatever narrative she offers & move on (dot org). Others, like Hedges, will channel their inner Who (“we won’t be be fooled again”) & resist the temptation to be seduced into thinking that Power is the only Absolute Value worth worshiping if one wishes to maintain one’s membership in the Church of the New Left. I can only hope & pray that Hedge’s epiphany spreads to other like-minded liberals whose genuine idealism has been ruthlessly exploited by their soulless comrades:
If Huffington has a conscience, she will sit down when the AOL check arrives and make sure every cent of it is paid out to those who worked free or at minimal wages for her over the last six years, starting with Mayhill Fowler, the blogger who broke the “clinging to guns and religion” story about Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and spent two years writing and reporting without a salary.
“She strung me along for two years while I repeatedly asked for funding for three projects, and then I quit,” Fowler told me from Oakland, Calif., as I spoke with her by phone. When Fowler, whom the site nominated twice for a Pulitzer, finally resigned last year in disgust, Mario Ruiz, the spokesperson for The Huffington Post, acidly told Yahoo News: “Mayhill Fowler says that she is ‘resigning’ from The Huffington Post. How do you resign from a job you never had?”
That comment says it all. It exposes the callousness of our oligarchic class and their belief that they have a right to use anyone who can contribute to the monuments they spend their lives erecting to themselves.