Daily Finance’s media columnist Jeff Bercovici called out Arianna Huffington in a recent column. Bercovici noted that her media criticism and advice is contradicted by what her site, The Huffington Post, publishes. Huffington is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of the site.
Huffington had commented in a question and answer session in New York City last week that the media spends resources hyping stories which aren’t that significant in the grand scheme of things. And, as a result, reporters are negligent in noticing developments to what should be significant stories. As an example, Huffington cited the media frenzy surrounding the balloon boy story, which turned out to be a hoax, compared with the lack of reporting on the “destabilizing of the financial system,” a story the media didn’t notice until “it’s too late.”
At her Y appearance, Huffington said, “We’d like to have more biopsies and fewer autopsies,” and in the larger context of Huffington’s book, she further stated that “the media is also addicted to covering what Bill Maher describes as ‘the bright, shiny objects’ over here, distracting attention from the real story over there,” Bercovici reported.
But, Bercovici fact checked her statements, only to discover that the Huffington Post itself not only extensively reported on the balloon boy story, but also continued to cover last October’s “balloon boy” after the story was determined to be a hoax.
And, at the time of Bercovici’s story, he also noted the Huffington Post’s homepage promoted stories on “Venus Williams’ Super-Skimpy U.S. Open Outfit,” and a lion attack video. Those articles seemed a little “bright” and “shiny,” to Bercovici.
Huffington wrote in a Sunday Roundup published Sept. 12, calling the reporting of Terry Jones’ intended Quran burning a story that had been sensationalized by the media. She again brought up the media hyping of the balloon boy story as a comparison for the Jones story.
“This week we learned that, when it comes to inflating a non-story into a leads-the-news story, the media has learned nothing since Falcon Heene’s transformation into Balloon Boy. But, of course, Balloon Boy’s saga didn’t put American lives at risk, as did the elevation of the nutty ramblings of a certain Florida-based pastor whose name I’ve promised to never mention again…
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“With an unnecessary war raging in Afghanistan, Americans still being killed in Iraq, and millions struggling to make ends meet here at home, it’s time for the media to beam back from bizarro world and put the spotlight where it belongs.”
On par with Bercovici’s balloon boy research, StinkyJournalism found numerous articles about Terry Jones and the now-called off Quran burning on the Huffington Post here.
In response to questions from iMediaEthics, The Huffington Post’s public relations senior vice president, Mario Ruiz, wrote that “it’s not just about what subjects are covered, but the way in which they are covered.”
Ruiz added that it’s not if the subject is covered, but how it’s covered.
“For instance, we featured a story on Terry Jones at the top of our page for much of the day Friday, but it was a comprehensive critique by our Eat the Press editor, Jason Linkins, of the way the story was being covered by much of the media. It’s also about balance: yes, we ran stories on Jones, and on Balloon Boy, but they were one of hundreds of stories and blog posts we ran on those days, and they weren’t promoted to the exclusion of other more important stories. The same can’t be said for the breathless, wall-to-wall coverage given these stories on so many TV news outlets.”
See a clip from Huffington’s lecture at the Y here.