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Friday, February 11, 2011

The $315 Million Dollar Rip-Off

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty." — Thomas Jefferson

This week Arianna Huffington sold her left-wing blog the Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million dollars. It didn’t take long for the left to react to the AOL-Huffington Post merger that was announced on Monday. And the reaction was mostly negative.

One group formed a Facebook page with the title of “Hey Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime” evoking thoughts of the Great Depression. The description box for the group which has only attracted 145 likes to date is as follows: “AOL gave you $315 million: We’re asking you to give a little back to the unpaid writers who built the Huffington Post.”

This is in reference to the bloggers who for the most part weren’t paid for their posts but now watch helplessly as the site they helped build cashes in without them. The group also points to Huffington’s latest book which to them contradicts her behavior with regard to the merger:

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.

Will 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. I think not.

I have a very close friend who worked with Arianna when she was campaigning for her once husband Michael Huffington in his 1994 California senate race against Diane Feinstein. At this time Ms. Huffington was a conservative Republican courting the religious right of the Republican Party. My friend has nothing nice to say about Ms. Huffington and still calls her a fraud and a gold digger.

Huffington was born Arianna Stassinopoulou in Athens, Greece, the daughter of Konstantinos (a journalist and management consultant) and Elli (née Georgiadi) Stassinopoulous, and is the sister of Agapi (an author, speaker and performer). She moved to England at the age of 16, and attended Girton College at Cambridge University.

After graduation, she moved to London and lived with the journalist and broadcaster Bernard Levin, whom she had met while the two were panelists on the TV show Face the Music. In 1980, because of Levin's refusal to get married, she broke the relationship and moved to the United States. After Levin's death in 2004, she called him "the big love of my life, a mentor as a writer, and a role model as a thinker".

Huffington met her future husband Michael Huffington in 1985. They were married a year later. They later established residency in Santa Barbara, California, in order for him to run in 1992 as a Republican for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which he won by a significant margin. Arianna campaigned for her husband, courting religious conservatives, arguing for smaller government and a reduction in welfare. In 1994, he narrowly lost the race for the U.S. Senate seat to California to incumbent Dianne Feinstein.

The couple divorced in 1997, and in 1998, Michael Huffington revealed that he was bisexual.

In the late 1980s, Huffington wrote several articles for National Review. In 1981, she wrote a biography of Maria Callas, Maria Callas — The Woman Behind the Legend, and in 1989, a biography of Pablo Picasso, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer.[9]

Huffington rose to national prominence during her husband's unsuccessful Senate bid in 1994. She became known as a reliable supporter of conservative causes such as Newt Gingrich's "Republican Revolution" and Bob Dole's 1996 candidacy for president. She teamed up with liberal comedian Al Franken as the conservative half of "Strange Bedfellows"[10] during Comedy Central's coverage of the 1996 U.S. presidential election. For her work, she and the writing team of Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher were nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program.[citation needed] She has also made a few forays into acting with roles on shows such as Roseanne, The L Word, How I Met Your Mother, Help Me Help You, and the film EdTV.

Huffington's politics began to shift back toward the left in the late 1990s. During the Yugoslav Wars, Huffington opposed United States intervention in the crisis. In 2000, she instigated the 'Shadow Conventions', which appeared at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia and the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

Huffington heads The Detroit Project, a public interest group lobbying automakers to start producing cars running on alternative fuels. The project's 2003 TV ads, which equated driving sport utility vehicles to funding terrorism, proved to be particularly controversial, with some stations refusing to run them.

In a 2004 appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, she announced her endorsement of John Kerry by saying, "When your house is burning down, you don't worry about the remodeling." In recent years, she has been closely associated with the Democratic Party. Huffington was a panel speaker during the 2005 California Democratic Party State Convention, held in Los Angeles. She also spoke at the 2004 College Democrats of America Convention in Boston, which was held in conjunction with the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Huffington is also associated with talk radio with CNN political commentator Mary Matalin called "Both Sides radio."

According to my friend Ms. Huffington will do about anything to make a buck. Soon after she married Michael she immediately brought her mother and sister to California so they could live off Michael’s money. Ms. Huffington has always been about money.

Huffington was accused of plagiarism for copying material for her book Maria Callas (1981); the claims were settled out of court in 1981, with Callas biographer Gerald Fitzgerald being paid "in the low five figures."

Lydia Gasman, an art history professor at the University of Virginia, claimed that Huffington’s 1988 biography of Pablo Picasso, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer, included themes similar to those in her unpublished four-volume Ph.D. thesis. "What she did was steal twenty years of my work," Gasman told Maureen Orth in 1994. Gasman did not file suit.

Maureen Orth also reported that Huffington "borrowed heavily for her 1993 book, The Gods of Greece."

It is reported that AOL with over 7 million subscribers when he merged with Time-Warner had dropped to below 3 million and were looking for a way to beef up their subscriber base. With this in mind hey selected the Huffington Post as a good way to do this. Time will tell if AOL made a smart move, but in the past few years they have not made many of those. Once the king of the dial-up Internet connection they have been steadily losing subscribers to DSL and Cable. Almost every new PC comes packed with an AOL application, but it’s usually the one of the first things that is deleted.

I think the marriage of Arianna Huffington will be good for Arianna and not so good for AOL. As for all of those unpaid bloggers hell will freeze over before they get any money. What would you expect from a turncoat who will change her spots for a buck? Arianna’s number one charity is Arianna.

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