Did AOL Just Get AOLed?

The Huffington Post has merged with AOL -- or, as J.P. Freire put it, it was "bought by that annoying CD distribution company from 10 years ago." Scott Rosenberg has an interesting take on the deal:

People think of Huffington Post as the leading popular liberal-Democratic news site. Huffington is now at least suggesting that the progressive point of view isn't a part of what she'll be pursuing at AOL. "Ms. Huffington said her politics would have no bearing on how she ran the new business," says the NY Times story. Really? This strikes me as strange, disingenuous, and about as credible as Roger Ailes claiming that Fox is not a partisan-driven institution.

One possibility is, Huffington is just saying what the corporate script requires and actually the plan is to position AOL as a sort of Democratic alternative to Fox News/Drudge -- which I think would be a really interesting move. I have to assume Arianna has big TV ambitions; I have yet to meet a new-media empire builder who didn't secretly yearn to do an Ailes (or an Oprah).

The other, more likely possibility is that this whole thing is about the money, the investors needed to cash out, HuffPo's numbers weren't looking good enough for an IPO, and Huffington is basically improvising. She'll spend a couple years at AOL and then move on. This means that, in 2011, Huffington Post will be playing the same role in relation to AOL that AOL played in relation to Time Warner back in 2000: selling itself at the top of a market bubble, pocketing the profit from a sale that couldn't be earned from customers, and leaving a bigger, older company with all the headaches.

Bonus link: Jack Shafer describes Huffington's influence on journalism.

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  • Gibby||

    Someone should take Huffington into a little room and then start slaping her in the face for days on end.

  • Douglas Fletcher||

    I think you should do it first. If she makes any noises that sound like Eva Gabor, slap her even harder.

  • Jeff P||

    Always remember that Dems like to use the word Progressive...

  • Rather||

    Ye of little faith or more likely ye of a fucking load of jealousy-she made a bundle and good for her.

    Congrats Arianna

  • OO=======D||

    Keep sucking!

    Love,
    Daddy

  • ||

    One possibility is, Huffington is just saying what the corporate script requires and actually the plan is to position AOL as a sort of Democratic alternative to Fox News/Drudge

    Hasn't this type of attempt been made repeatedly, such as with Air America? And it always fails?

  • Ed Schultz||

    That's Psycho Talk!

  • Rather||

    ya, by men

  • ||

    Go away. Forever.

  • Rather||

    you first, bitch

  • Warty||

    WHAT? SPEAK UP, WHORE! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

  • Rather||

    Oh how I wish Warty didn't incif me...I miss being called a whore...I know for Warty, it was an affectionate term; after all he called his dear mama a dirty cunt whore...will he ever let me back into his life?

  • Rather||

    Our song Warty...How could you do this to me? -you perfect specimen of a man!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPSE0cITcDM

  • Pip||

    Ever notic that sometimes, it takes a really, really long time to clean up after a bad shit?

  • zoltan||

    Warty, please don't insult the title of honest working girls by applying it to Rather.

  • ||

    Maybe HuffPo will go the same was as that other AOL acquisition, Netscape.

    Does anyone use Winamp anymore?

  • Lucky||

    it really kicks the llama's ass

  • wingnutx||

    Winamp is great.

    I don't like apps that want to stretch their tentacles into everything.

  • Douglas Fletcher||

    yes

  • Almanian||

    Yaaaaaaaaaaawn. AOL is so 2004....

  • Sandi||

    I took a shit in 2004 once.

  • Mike M.||

    I'm amazed that they even still exist.

  • ||

    As long as politicians exist, there will be shit.

  • ChrisO||

    I will happily continue to ignore both AOL and the Huffington Post.

    It is amusing to see "opinion" and "news" being used interchangeably. I wasn't aware that HuffPo contained actual news reporting.

  • Jesse Walker||

    It certainly isn't their bread and butter, but they do have some reporters on staff. Reason contributor Ryan Grim has done some decent stuff for them.

  • Mo||

    This analogy would would work better if HuffPo bought AOL. Back in 2000, AOL purchased Time Warner with $164 of their stock. That's what was remarkable about the deal. Small crappy companies get purchased for too much money all of the time.

  • Mo||

    Also, AOL was able to find a market for its share and IPO. It was able to buy Time Warner because the public markets had overvalued the company.

  • ||

    My favorite critiques of the Huffington Post were written by Matt Welch right here at Hit & Run, back when the Huffington Post first launched.

  • ||

    I'm surprised Steve Case isn't buried in a shallow grave somewhere on one of Ted Turner's many large ranches.

  • Ragin Cajun||

    You think that's buffalo meat that you're eating?

  • PIRS||

    AOL - Didn't they used to give away free coasters to advertise their company?

  • KingTaco||

    "One possibility is, Huffington is just saying what the corporate script requires and actually the plan is to position AOL as a sort of Democratic alternative to Fox News/Drudge -- which I think would be a really interesting move."

    Boy, a success just like MSNBC, the new Newsweek, Air America...

    'Populist' style (Fox) punditry/TV finds an audience when the other side of the political spectrum controls the media high-grounds. The 'populist firebrand' act looks a little silly when your team is firmly entrenched as top dog in TV/Movies/Academia/Newspapers/etc. Righty blowhards get ratings because outside of the WSJ, Michael Barone, and George Will, they're the only TV/print game in town for that side of the aisle. Lefty populist efforts hit the market as 'more cowbell'. The market is already saturated with that tune.

    Exactly what demo is AOL bringing to this? The only folks I know still punching AOL's ticket are 50's/60's/70's middle-class, non-tech savy users who aren't exactly jonesing for a morning article by Harry Shearer on how Obama critics are planning a brown-shirt coup aaaannnnnyyy day now.

    I think the market for people who want to hear privileged, hyper-partisan, rich old white-folks bemoan privileged, hyper-partisan, rich old white-folks has pretty well met it's apex.

  • wingnutx||

    Does this mean that Greg Gutfelld will be back at huffpo?

  • Spiny Norman||

    Anyone who's followed Arianna Huffington's tortuous career should know that she won't hesitate to change her political views if she sees an advantage in it. When it comes to self-promotion, she makes Madonna look circumspect.

  • ||

    I have yet to meet a new-media empire builder who didn't secretly yearn to do an Ailes (or an Oprah).

    If it's a secret how does he know about it?

  • 29InNet||

    My parents (65) still think AOL is The Gateway to the internet.

  • Joe||

    Huffpo just had an article titled
    "AOL's "Dirty Little Secret": 60% of AOL's Profits Come From Misinformed Customers". I wonder how huffy will square this with their readers.

  • kf||

    Wild guess: That Doonesbury strip is from when Huffington was an evil evil conservative, and thus worthy of being mocked.

  • Jesse Walker||

    At that point she was most associated with the ideas of the New Age guru John-Roger. But her husband at the time was a right-wing pol.

  • Almanian||

    Or, as I've always referred to AOL - "internet for idiots".

    Guess the shoe still fits...

  • ||

    The other, more likely possibility is that this whole thing is about the money

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

    No, seriously, what could it be?

  • Douglas Fletcher||

    I'm raising a glass of Falstaff beer to the union of Ariana & AOL.

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