Arianna Huffington, who created the massively popular news site Huffington Post, closed out Business Insider’s Ignition conference today by taking a swipe at the earlier comments.
“You guys are all about who has the biggest swinging dick,” Huffington said.
She was responding specifically to a morning panel where Business Insider co-founder Henry Blodget pushed executives from both HuffPo and the Wall Street Journal to say which company will be bigger in five years. Huffington said that’s a dumb, very male way to look at the world, when in fact both the Journal and the HuffPo can flourish, and a bunch of new publications can take off too.
Huffington also rejected the idea that the HuffPo is in a rivalry with Tina Brown’s site The Daily Beast, especially now that The Daily Beast has merged with Newsweek. Whenever two women are involved, people assume “there must have been a catfight somewhere,” Huffington said, but she isn’t thinking about any rivalry, because her company is doing just fine. It’s profitable and has 24 million unique monthly visitors. She’s still hoping to grow HuffPo’s audience, but she said that doesn’t have to be at the expense of other publications.
“That’s an old-fashioned guy game,” Huffington said. “We women just need to resist participating in it.”
That wasn’t the only idea that Huffington took issue with. She also pushed back against the idea that the Huffington Post is a liberal blog. She prefers to think of the site as a “beyond left and right” publication that’s willing to look at good ideas no matter where they come from on the political spectrum. At the same time, it’s not tied to false ideas of objectivity — when one side is clearly wrong and one is clearly right, it’s not good journalism to pretend that they have equal weight, she said.
“There are some people who think the Earth is round and there are some people who think the Earth is flat,” Huffington said — and we don’t need to pretend that both opinions are equally valid. That may sound absurd, she said, but you see the same thing in the debate with global warming.
That’s what separates HuffPo from something like Fox News, Huffington argued. They’re not just the same publication on different sides of the political spectrum.
“I’m saying Fox News is not news,” Huffington said.
[photo by Owen Thomas]