Arianna Huffington: April Fools’ Day Gag Rip-Off Artist?

Originally published at NewsReal’s That’s What She Said blog. Please follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our feed!

Runnin’ Scared notes that Arianna’s April Fools’ Day jab at the New York Times is awfully similar to a post that appeared at The Monkey Cage … on March 20. In a fairly lame attempt to razz the Times for its new paywall, she announced:

Today marks a significant transition for The Huffington Post Media Group, as we introduce digital subscriptions for employees of The New York Times.

Yeah, yeah. In other news, she just flew in from the coast and BOY are her arms tired. Hardy har har. Here’s a snippet from the earlier post at The Monkey Cage:

Starting on March 28th (and immediately for any Canadian NY Times employees), we will begin charging employees of the NY Times $29.99/month to access the electronic version of The Monkey Cage.

The similarities don’t end there.

Not only did the blog Monkey Cage make the same joke two weeks ago — “Monkey Cage to Begin Charging NY Times Employees for Access,” as pointed out on Twitter — but even the bullet-pointed formatting of the joke is the same, complete with wild and crazy caveats. For instance:

From Monkey Cage: “Times employees who wish to leave comments on posts will be permitted to do so without charge, but only if the comments are essentially positive and invoke the words ‘insightful’ or ‘counter-intuitive.’”

From Arianna: “If you come in through Digg, you’ll be able to read for free all stories that refer to TV’s Erik Estrada.”

Now sure, it could be that the comedy stylings of Arianna Huffington were something she thought up on her own, perhaps during a late night coffee klatch with Van Jones and Nora Ephron. But this is hardly the first time The Huffington Post has been on the receiving end of content theft and idea theft allegations. And when she’s not stealing, she’s “aggregating,” or as Stephen Colbert recently explained, “HuffPo is famous for its extensive, comprehensive coverage of things other people produce and put on the Internet.” In his best Arianna accent, he asked:

Darling, I happened to cruise by your $300 million website and you know what I find? A whole lotta me, including clips from my show on your site’s dedicated Stephen Colbert page. You have achieved the impossible. You made me feel angry while looking at pictures of myself. Where’s my money, Arianna?

If even Stephen Colbert is mocking her reputation as a content thief with The Colbuffington Re-Post, is it beyond belief that she’d swipe her April Fools’ Day “joke”? Runnin’ Scared suggests she’s not a thief, it’s just that her ideas are “played out.” I’m not so sure.

Pro-Pedophile Propaganda: For It Or Against It, David Frum?

Originally published on July 13, 2010 at David Horowitz’s NewsReal
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It’s shaping up to be a busy week for David Frum, what with manning the speculum for Andrew Sullivan (OB-Atlantic), picking irrational fights with David Horowitz, and hourly dry humping of his blog visitor stats. Perhaps that’s why honesty, integrity, and concern for his reputation fell completely to the wayside.

Visions of a traffic spike dancing before his eyes, Frum jumped to the defense of ex-NewsReal blogger Alex Knepper, intimating that Horowitz fired Knepper because he wouldn’t toe the paleoconservative (?!) line. Today Frum doubled down at The Daily Dish, ridiculing NRB managing editor David Swindle for “accusing our young blogger of sexual perversion among other offenses.”

Is David Frum sure he wants to go there?

If he’s going to root for Team Alex, he might want to take a look at who else finds value in Knepper’s work. For instance, Knepper’s excoriation of the “sex offender lynch mob” was removed from NRB, but not before every word was lovingly preserved on a pro-sex offender agitprop site. The essay includes gems like this:

The result of this moral panic is that sex offenders of any kind — whether a stranger-rapist, child molester, someone who was peeking at kiddie porn, or even someone who had sex with a fourteen-year-old at the age of nineteen — are being denied their basic civil rights and liberties.

It is difficult to fathom and even harder to stomach, but lobbyist groups like SOSEN and Roar for Freedom exist to “abolish the sex offender registry and what they regard as ‘harsh’ laws against sex offenders.” And one need not look further than Alex Knepper’s writing to see some of their arguments on behalf of the poor, beleaguered sex offender community.

Knepper unmasked his sexual depravity even further last week when he submitted a foul piece of writing about teen idol Miley Cyrus that could easily pass for “youth liberation” propaganda. He argued against “our skewed epistemology of adulthood,” insisting that a 17-year-old is a woman, not a girl.

Other sections of Knepper’s essay further develop the morally bankrupt “age is just a number” argument. But instead of sharing them here, I have a challenge for David Frum:

David, if you truly believe that NewsReal Blog has unfairly branded Alex Knepper a pervert, publish his post about Miley Cyrus. Publish his defense of the sex offender “lynch mob.” And point your readers toward his unseemly attack on rape survivors.

It’s time to either fully own your uninformed knee-jerk defense of Alex Knepper or man up, admit your mistake, and kick Knepper to the gutter where he belongs.

Shamed into Posting

hungover-owl

A hungover owl. Duh.

A very nice guy named Bryan Tupper just recommended my blog to his Twitter followers. (Thanks Bryan!) This probably means I should add some new content or something.

Yeah, I’ll get right on that.

In the mean time, you can see my latest articles at NewsReal. And here are a couple I co-authored with Lori Ziganto.

Or you can look at hungover owls. Your choice.

My Guest Spot on The Smart Girl Report

A few weeks ago, I was a guest on The Smart Girl Report hosted by Jenny Erikson.

Jenny, Lori Ziganto, and I discussed female genital mutilation (FGM), faux feminism, whether we should care if a woman is nominated to the Supreme Court, and our favorite South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley.  There may have also been some uncomfortable talk about girl parts and boy parts.  Good times!

Click here to listen.

Classy Comment of the Week

A male blogger commenting on one of my posts trotted out the “girls are icky” approach to debating a woman:

I don’t think that’s ever been the response when I’m arguing with a guy…if you know what I mean.

Of course, he refused to elaborate on what exactly he meant.

Maybe for an encore he can take me to task for missing a dose of Midol.  You know, if he’s not too busy enjoying some hot man-on-man debate action.

Why I Don’t Link To Wikipedia

Do you trust Wikipedia enough to link to it as a reliable, authoritative source of information?  Jimmie Bise at Sundries Shack got me thinking about this yesterday when he linked to a criticism of the leftist bias found throughout Wikipedia.

When I launched this blog in 2008, I mentioned Wikipedia on my About page:

If you use a link to Wikipedia to “prove” something, there’s a strong possibility you will not be taken seriously.  By anyone.

That was wishful thinking on my part. Plenty of people will still take you seriously because they take Wikipedia seriously. But should they?

There are two main reasons I don’t link to Wikipedia:

Verifiability, not truth

According to Wikipedia policy (my first and last link to Wikipedia!), “The threshold for inclusion in Wikipedia is verifiability, not truth.” Objectivity be damned! If a piece of information has appeared somewhere at some time, that’s good enough for Wikipedia.

Granted, Wikipedia policy suggests citing reputable sources, but a quick search tonight turned up numerous entries that referenced conspiracy Web sites like Infowars and Prison Planet.  Apparently “reputable” is in the eye of the beholder.

Truthiness

Wikipedia is a punchline. Literally:

I’ve said it before: Who is [Encyclopaedia] Britannica to tell me George Washington had slaves? If I want to say George Washington didn’t have slaves, that’s my right. And now, thanks to Wikipedia, it’s also a fact.”

That was Stephen Colbert speaking truthiness to power.  Here’s a screen capture of some truthiness I found on the Wikipedia entry for “Islamic Sexual Jurisprudence.”

Islamic sexual jurisprudence entry on Wikipedia

“There are no slaves nowadays in any islamic country.” No bias there, huh? Since when is it even controversial to suggest there’s a problem with slavery in Darfur?  It seems that the requirement for “verifiability” can be fulfilled with a quick “citation needed” note when inconvenient facts diverge from opinion or propaganda.

That’s not to say that Wikipedia isn’t useful. If you’re a careful reader with a firm grasp of how to evaluate information, Wikipedia is a great point of departure for Internet research.

But ultimately, it comes down to an epistemological question: how do we know what we know?  With Wikipedia, in some cases we know what we know simply because some other guy said he knows what he knows.

Is that good enough for you?

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