Who Is Arianna Huffington To Lecture Others About Hiring Paranoid Commentators?

The most surreal moment of Arianna Huffington’s attack on Roger Ailes on ABC's This Week on Sunday was her denunciation of Fox News for embracing what liberal historian Richard Hofstadter called "the paranoid style in American politics," which she insisted "is dangerous when there is real pain out there."

Paranoid Style could be a regular section title for The Huffington Post. In our 2007 special report, "Huffington’s House of Horrors," we made a long list of vicious and hateful writings that Arianna approved for publication about George W. Bush and his administration.

– On the Fourth of July, 2006, actor Alec Baldwin cooked up a double-murder fantasy. After dispatching Osama bin Laden with a box-cutter and hurling his corpse off a high balcony, "in the final stroke of luck, Bin Laden lands on Dick Cheney. God bless America."

– In another post, Baldwin denounced the Vice President: "Cheney is a terrorist. He terrorizes our enemies abroad and innocent citizens here at home indiscriminately." When this drew critics on the Internet, Baldwin insincerely apologized: "How about something more measured, then? How about...a lying, thieving Oil Whore. Or, a murderer of the U.S. Constitution?"

– Actor Sean Penn denounced America for its stupidity in allowing the war in Iraq: "We know it’s not the administration alone, but a culture at large, cloaking itself in self-righteousness, religion, and adolescent hero-dreaming machismo." He mocked Rush Limbaugh as a drug addict, Sean Hannity as a "whore" for Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, and Bill O’Reilly for "massaging his rectum with a loofah." America’s failure to impeach President Bush would disgrace the nation: "we become a cum-stain on the flag we wave."

– HuffPost blogger Peter Mehlman, a former Washington Post sports reporter and Seinfeld script writer, baldly declared that Adolf Hitler was a better man than President George Bush, because even though Hitler tried to eliminate the Jews, "the Bush administration is the first that doesn’t even mean well. You could argue that even the world’s worst fascist dictators at least meant well."

– Actress Christine Lahti proclaimed "Cindy Sheehan is my hero," and President Bush wouldn’t talk to her because he "is scared shitless...his hands are covered in the blood of Cindy Sheehan’s son. They are dripping with the blood of all who have died there."

– Actor John Cusack declared: "Nixon, a true fiend, looks like a paragon of virtue next to the criminally incompetent robber barons now raiding the present and the future...This is indeed a league of bastards – these men are human scum."

Cusack then approvingly quoted from the late drug-addled journalist Hunter S. Thompson saying America now looked like "a Nazi monster" and denounced conservatives as "flag-sucking half-wits" who "speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us – they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis."

All this came, despite Arianna Huffington’s empty pledge to Newsweek at the site’s founding: "If you’re looking for the usual flame-throwing, name-calling, and simplistic attack dog rhetoric....don’t bother coming to The Huffington Post."

On Sunday, she claimed "Words matter. And words that are actually being used by people we hire are different than words that are being used by commenters on our sites, like you mentioned. Because we make the choice." All of these articles were chosen, not merely allowed.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis