Everybody loves Arianna Huffington. Except for me. For some reason, writing that makes me think of the Flanders song on The Simpsons:
“Hens love roosters. Geese love ganders. Everyone else loves Ned Flanders.
Not me. (Homer)
Everyone who counts loves Ned Flanders.”
I don’t like Arianna, and have a really hard time reading the insufferable Huffington Post, because I don’t trust her. Sure, she seems like a good liberal/progressive today. Today, on September 20th, 2010, Arianna was on Hardball dutifully playing a reasonable person. One might totally forget her history – most seem to have – but I am not in that group. I remember her history.
My personal history with her is long. No, I have never met her but she was a big part of the start of my career. And yes, I apparently hold grudges. My experience with her started in 1994 but to get a full picture you need to go back further than that.
Arianna Huffington (née Stassinopoulos) was born in Greece. In 1960, she moved to the United States. One of the first things she was known for (here, she hosted a show in Britain before moving here) was dating Jerry Brown. You know, the liberal.
Mrs. Huffington later married Michael Huffington, a Republican. The couple moved to Santa Barbara in 1992 so that he could run for the House of Representatives. He won. She not only campaigned for her husband but she debated his opponent in his place. In 1994, the duo ran one of the most expensive campaigns in US history (at the time) to unseat Senator Dianne Feinstein. Almost $32 million later ($28 million of his own), Michael Huffington almost became a Senator. That was the year I got my first job in politics. I was a press intern for Senator Feinstein. Most of the time I love elections because they have outcomes that are pretty quick and decisive. You know (usually, the country learned the lesson I learned that year in 2000 when hanging chads entered our collective vernacular) on election night if you won or lost. Not in 1994, that election was so close that it was determined by absentee ballots. This was a painful time for Senator Feinstein because she lost the California gubernatorial race in 1990 because of the same thing.
This was also a painful month for Senator Feinstein’s staff. The Huffingtons made this worse. I do not fault either of them for fighting the election night outcome; that’s normal. I fault them for the incredibly poor sportsmanship they showed in the months between that night and when they finally gave up –I believe it was January when they did. I could look it up but I want this account to be as much from memory as possible. Congressman Huffington positioned himself in the path between where Senator Feinstein was sworn in to her office; he was giving a press interview (I was there, I saw it). He was seen riding the “Senators Only” elevators (not as elitist as they seem, it’s to allow them to get to the Capitol in time for votes). Arianna was seen measuring offices and picking out furniture. At least once (when I was there anyway), they walked by our office and waved. Classy.
The Huffingtons split up because he is gay. There is nothing wrong with being gay. Arianna is an immigrant. There is nothing wrong with being an immigrant. It is, however, incredibly hypocritical to run a campaign based on discriminating against homosexuals and immigrants when you are both. It is pretty inexcusable if you aren’t but there I cannot forgive Arianna for supporting Proposition 187 (the anti immigration ballot initiative that would have prevented the children of immigrants from attending public schools). Yes, Arianna, I kind of wished that had passed. If only we could have made it retroactive to the day before you got here. Do I sound bitter? Kind of.
Once she was on her own, Arianna went on a crusade against the media. She became a conservative columnist/panelist. She wanted to start a show Beat the Press. She hosted a show with Al Franken where she was the conservative and he was the liberal. I think it was called Strange Bedfellows. I still haven’t forgiven Franken for that.
And then it gets interesting. Arianna started the Huffington Post. To whom did she turn for help? Andrew Breitbart. You may remember him. He’s the rabid, Tea Bagger whose web site ‘broke’ the Acorn scandal last year. He’s a peach. And yet, I have fewer problems with him than Arianna. Say what you want about Breitbart; he’s honest about his agenda and position.
So I don’t like Arianna. It bothers me to no end that her web site is given so much weight and influence. I don’t trust the liberal turned conservative turned liberal. No self-respecting progressive should.