An Open Letter To Arianna Huffington
Congratulations on the success of the Huffington Post. By all accounts, it has succeeded beyond reasonable expectations. Another feather in your cap, and well-deserved.
Arianna, your biography describes you in these words:
Arianna Huffington is a nationally syndicated columnist, author of ten books and co-founder and editor of the HuffingtonPost.com. She is also co-host of “Left, Right & Center,” public radio’s popular political roundtable program. Her weekly commentary is syndicated in newspapers across the country by Tribune Media Services.
It’s safe to say, then, that you know a little bit about journalism.
Arianna, your name is on your website, so I assume your standards must apply to how that website is run. Currently, a visitor to your website would come across a post by one Jane Hamsher (oh, we’ll get to her) that has a couple of remarkable features.
No, I’m not speaking of the turgid prose, or the incredible lack of sophistication underlying the ‘arguments’. I’m speaking of two things:
(a) a credit for a graphic that doesn’t exist – (Graphic by DarkBlack); and
(b) a number of comments along the lines of the following:
This is shameful. It’s not debate, it’s slander. You have destroyed any credibilty you may have claimed.
Indeed, the majority of these comments seem to be from self-described progressives. What could have made them so angry?
I think you know the answer – but in case you’ve been out spending your wealth or working hard on some no doubt excellent cause and haven’t heard, Ms. Hamsher’s post was accompanied by this photograph. It’s a photograph of Joe Lieberman with Bill Clinton that has been photoshopped so that Lieberman appears in minstrel show blackface.
No doubt you consider yourself a good person, and not a racist, so I can understand why the photo was taken down (and perhaps you might consider better controls to avoid such a mishap in the future. May I suggest severing your relationship with Ms. Hamsher as a start).
But Arianna, there’s a problem. You pulled the picture down, but you didn’t post a correction, or an explanation, or an apology. You greatly offended a large number of people, and then you doctored the historical record (or allowed it to be doctored). And make no mistake, your heavily-visited blog is a part of the public record, just as the NY Times, as an easy example. Would the Times ever pull down part of their story with no explanation whatsoever (wait – bad example – but you get the point)?
What standards of journalism would allow such dishonesty? What person of integrity would try to brush such an incident under the rug, knowing full well that tens or hundreds of thousands of people had seen the evidence?
And why would you associate with progressive bloggers such as Ms. Hamsher, whose foulness and profanity invade every post? One need only look at her day gig at firedoglake to see the proof. Indeed, Ms. Hamsher admits to choosing the graphic, and apologizes for ‘offending’ anyone, but only after being chastised by the Lamont campaign. Associating with such a loose cannon is an accident waiting to happen.
Arianna, you have already faced a doctoring controversy with your dishonest use of George Clooney’s ‘blog’, an incident that no doubt embarrassed you greatly, and one for which you apologized (eventually).
I would expect nothing less from a journalist of your caliber in this instance; that is to say, the posting of a correction and an apology.
I await your response.
UPDATE 8:20 p.m.: To be clear, this is not an apology or a correction; first, it’s by Jane Hamsher, not Arianna; second, it’s not appended to the regular piece, as a proper correction or explanatory note would be; and third, it’s hardly an apology at all; rather, it’s another anti-Lieberman screed from the obsessive Ms. Hamsher masquerading as an apology…
UPDATE 2 11:14 p.m.: No response or retraction yet (though I did get a form email thanking me for my ‘tip’ from the Huffington Post). However, congrats to Jane on making the news:
This campaign has apparently hit a new low today with something offensive, and that is putting it mildly. The popular Huffington Post blog, which has strongly supported Lamont’s candidacy, posted a picture today depicting President Clinton and Joe Lieberman in an Amos n Andy-type doctored picture obviously taken from the Waterbury rally last Monday. In the picture, Lieberman is drawn in blackface and Clinton is wearing dark sunglasses.
Lamont’s campaign manager Tom Swan condemned this, calling it very offensive and said he requested that it be removed. He also said that while blogger Jane Hamsher is a supporter, she is not on the campaign pay-roll.
“It’s extremely offensive,” Lieberman said. “I have been the target of the ‘blogs’ on a lot of really offensive stuff, stuff I consider lies and smears, but this picture of me with Bill Clinton and me having my face blackened is offensive to people of all races and colors and just doesn’t belong.”
We don’t know the motivation for this offensive blog and have been unable to contact Hamsher, but the photo was removed at approximately 4:00 p.m., judging by the comments made by others on the blog.
With friends like this, Lamont doesn’t need enemies…