New York Times Magazine writer Andrew Goldman kicked off his “Talk” with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong by revealing that Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of the AOL-owned Huffington Post, was not very pleased with her own turn in the Q&A column.
AG: After AOL purchased The Huffington Post last year, I interviewed Arianna Huffington. She hung up on me and complained to my editors. So I was pleasantly surprised that you agreed to this interview.
TA: I read the interview when it came out, and it looked like it was rough. We don’t hold grudges around here.
Back in April, Mr. Goldman and Ms. Huffington got into it over the alleged red shift that had struck the news site, once known as the liberal’s Drudge Report, since its merger with AOL.
AG: You’ve been saying recently that The Huffington Post is not a lefty publication?
AH: Actually I’ve been saying that for three years. The tag line that we’ve used a lot is “Beyond left and right.”
Three years ago was 2008. I looked at The Huffington Post a great deal during the election. It felt like the Internet version of Keith Olbermann’s show, and if that’s not lefty. . . .
Why don’t you be more specific? What were the messages that you considered lefty?
It’s as if you’re trying to tell me that Smurfs aren’t blue.
I’m just telling you that it is very clear that we have progressive views, but to call everything we’re doing lefty — it misses the whole point that American policy needs to be redefined beyond left and right. It’s a completely obsolete view of politics.
Still, I’m amazed you’re trying to tell me that The Huffington Post wasn’t started as a lefty blog?
I’m not trying to tell you anything. I’m telling you things. I’m not trying, O.K.?
Despite this attack on his so-called work wife, Mr. Armstrong is able to carry on a lighthearted but substantive conversation about the company. He denies that AOL’s revenue is entirely made up of little old ladies who don’t know they’re still subscribed to it, promises he is not challenging Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and says, actually, under-30s have very positive brand associations with AOL because of our wasted youths on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).
It all appears to be very civilized but, considering the recent revelation about Ms. Huffington’s interview, we would be naive to think we know what goes down between Mr. Goldman and his subjects. Who knows what curse words, personal insults and threats of physical violence wound up on the cutting room floor after this interview was, as they say, condensed and edited?