Arianna Huffington, the 'Ultimate Poster Girl for Change'?

The February issue of the rich-folks magazine Town & Country promises a special issue on "Wonder Women" – not just "Super Cindy Crawford," but "Amazing Arianna Huffington." Liberal magazine writer Leslie Bennetts spread the praise on thick on Arianna’s savvy and appeal.

After a fourteen-hour flight from Tel Aviv, there’s this: "Although she slept only on the plane, she is alert and articulate, not to mention impeccably coiffed – an important attribute for someone with such a prominent public profile. A sought-after pundit, she will rise early in the morning to appear live on ABC’s [The] View, which is among the innumerable television and radio shows that clamor incessantly to book her."

She’s sold as a "formidable critic of the Republican conservatives she used to court so assiduously, Huffington was ranked by Forbes as number twelve on its first-ever ‘Most Influential Women in Media’ list...her latest act has confirmed her Hall of Fame status as the ultimate poster girl for change."

The title of the article is "The Reigning Queen of Reinvention." But before she switched sides, Bennetts wrote, she was "vociferously right-wing wife" of Rep. Michael Huffington. Anyone who remembers the conservative days of Arianna would hardly call her "vociferously right-wing." She was in the Gingrich circle in the mid-1990s, but she still held liberal social views, and was writing gooey new-age books like The Fourth Instinct. Bennetts knew this: late in the article, Arianna is quoted by Bennetts that even then, "I was always pro-choice and pro-gay rights and pro-gun control."

Later in the article, Bennetts allowed some dissent – from the left. Uber-feminist Katha Pollitt of The Nation assesses the Huffington Post as having some "real journalism," but "there are also tons of seminaked-starlet photos, bogus – and dangerous – medical advice, silly ‘spirituality,’ addlepated self-help and barely disguised self-advertisements, most of all from Arianna herself."

Near the end, Bennetts explains that Arianna is "particularly proud" of coming back to a "warm friendship" with her ex-husband Michael, who announced he was bisexual. Their daughters, now 20 and 17, struggled with the breakup:

"My kids have been through a lot of hard times – both had eating disorders – but both are now in good place," Huffington says. "We’re really close. Christina jokes that when I come for parents’ weekend, I arrive Thursday and leave Monday. Iwas going to a conference and asked her if I could stop by and see her, and I remember waiting at Starbucks like I was waiting for my lover! I remember calling [former ABC and CNN anchor] Willow Bay, who’s a good friend, and saying ‘I can’t be too forward; I can’t ask too many questions!’

"When I’m home with Isabella, I’d rather be with her than anything else. The night before I left for Tel Aviv, Isabella wnet out for dinner but got back at eight and said ‘Mom, would you like to go out for ice cream and talk?’ I had a massage scheduled, but I said to the massage lady ‘Goodbye!’"

Ah yes, dismissing the massage lady: there’s your liberal poster girl for knowing the struggles of the common man.

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