May 09, 2005

The Pre-Post "Post" Post

Nikki Finke declares the Huffpo DOA:

What her bizarre guru-cult association, 180-degree conservative-to-liberal conversion, and failed run in the California gubernatorial-recall race couldn’t accomplish, her blog has now done: She is finally played out publicly. This Web-site venture is the sort of failure that is simply unsurvivable, because of all the advance publicity touting its success as inevitable. Her blog is such a bomb that it’s the box-office equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar and Heaven’s Gate rolled into one. In magazine terms, it’s the disastrous clone of Tina Brown’s Talk, JFK Jr.’s George or Maer Roshan’s Radar. No matter what happens to Huffington, it’s clear Hollywood will suffer the consequences.

It almost seems like some sick hoax. Perhaps Huffington is no longer a card-carrying progressive but now a conservative mole. Because she served up liberal celebs like red meat on a silver platter for the salivating and Hollywood-hating right wing to chew up and spit out.

Of course, only the fawning mainstream media didn’t see this coming; instead, The New York Times, the New York Observer, the Los Angeles Times et al. were too busy breathlessly reporting Arianna’s big plans and bons mots to bother to do any reporting.

As Elder noted over at Fraters, the whole big-lefty approach to alternative media - from Soros' bankrolling of the likes of Atrios and Oliver Willis, to the whole concept behind Air America (radio of and by the "elites", but served up for a caricature of the slavering morons that the left imagines are the conservative talk radio audience), to...

...well, the Huffpo.

Forgive them, these bleating blowhards on Arianna’s blog, because they know not what they do. Not Seinfeld has-been Julia Louis-Dreyfus and her untalented TV-hyphenate husband, Brad Hall, making unfunny shtick of the anti-gay-marriage movement. Not has-been director Mike Nichols, using the forum to parade his high school grasp of U.S. history by mentioning “de Tocqueville” and “Dr. King” in the same paragraph. Not has-been brat-packer John Cusack, penning the 459,308th remembrance of Hunter Thompson for the sole purpose of letting the world know that the actor scored an invite to the writer’s intimate memorial service. Still, the celebs aren’t to blame here, because they made the bad mistake of allowing Arianna to sweet-talk them into believing that they had something to say in the first place. (“I was very moved, for example, by what Mike Nichols sent,” Huffington told Newsweek. “It was just such a beautiful expression of his thinking.” Arianna must have been swooning over the fact that Nichols is married to Diane Sawyer, because it can’t possibly be over the director’s bombastic blog b.s.)

They’re all lambs to the slaughter, — baa, baa, baa, suddenly standing for baad, baad, baad — led by a shameless shepherdess whose only interest in the Hollywood flock in the first place is their ability to secure yet another headline for Huffington.

In the great tradition of Air America, the money trail is...fuzzy.
Huffington approached five major players to ante up....Huffington asked DreamWorks SKG partner David Geffen, All in the Family producer Norman Lear, Endeavor Agency partner Ari Emanuel, Pulp Fiction producer Laurence Bender and Seinfeld co-creator Larry David’s wife, Laurie...Sources tell me that, of the five, only Bender and David expressed real interest, and, lo and behold, Laurie David shows up on the home page butt-cheek-to-butt-cheek (though beneath) all the blogging celebs, journalists and Dubya speechwriters. Emanuel wanted no involvement, period. Lear “didn’t put any money into it,” his spokeswoman told me. “If he’s got something to say, he might participate, but he’s got no plans right now.” But Huffington almost sabotaged her still relatively recent friendship with Geffen over it.

“The reality is that she is running around with a lot of names not only in terms of bloggers and so-called investors. And a lot of it is a little bit of a shell game,” a source told me pre-launch. “You know the standard game. You call someone and say, ‘I’ve got X committed for X amount of money.’ That’s what she did with David. He was not aware that she’s using his name as an investor.” I’m told that, once Geffen was alerted, his people had to speak to Huffington and “straighten it out.”

But not only is Geffen not an investor, he’s not even a blogger....a source close to Geffen said to me, “He sends me two-word e-mails. He’s not going to write a blog for her or anyone.”

The lefty approach to alternative media continues to confound. Follow the template:
  • Take what should, by all rights, be a dirt-cheap medium - talk radio and the blogosphere.
  • Get Huge money involved ("cuhnnuhct thuh duhts", indeed)...
  • To pay for Huge names (from non-alternative fields) and their huge egoes; ponying up for big-name (but modest-talent) names like Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo, rather than following the Limbaugh model of finding a talented but lesser-known broadcaster with some actual audience-building talent
  • Pay through the nose for the kind of exposure that conservatives in the alt-media traditionally get the hard way - by winning readers and listeners over, one at a time.
  • Pay constant obeisance to Hollywood and the non-merited elites. Remember when Air America rolled out? The Garofalo, Winstad and Marty Kaplan shows were all heavily geared toward "Hollywood's views" on the news. They pay, the play, I guess...
  • Wonder why it doesn't stick?
Take some advice, Arianna. Go to Blogspot. Start "Arianna's Joint". Start writing. See if anyone cares about what you say on its own merits. Maybe show up at Keegans to talk with people who can actually do the job.

Get back to us in a year.

Posted by Mitch at May 9, 2005 06:26 PM | TrackBack

Arianna would be fun at Keegan's. Do you think she'd bring along Larry David?

Posted by: Doug at May 9, 2005 05:56 PM

On my AOL front page they announce that Arianna, Uncle Walter, and Ellen the fine comedienne before discovering things about herself, are all blogging. The killer question: Can they beat Drudge? Mitch, they can't even beat you! Just kidding! Well, they can't beat you. You know what I mean.

Posted by: John D. at May 9, 2005 08:03 PM

Arianna Huffington is as well-suited to edit a news publication as Bill Maher is to be a Vatican librarian.

Posted by: RBMN at May 10, 2005 01:14 AM