Advertisement

SUNDAY CONVERSATION

The toast of the Post

December 21, 2008|Choire Sicha

Arianna Huffington shuttles between New York, home of the Huffington Post offices, and Los Angeles, where her youngest daughter is in high school. Her website had more than 8 million unique visitors in October, according to Nielsen, and she has a few things to say about 2008.

--

With the rise of the Campbell Brown "No B.S." hour and Rachel Maddow, now TV news is more op-ed page than front page. Is this a good thing?

It's absolutely a good thing. Also, just the question presupposes there is something inherently wrong with a journalist or a newscaster having an opinion, which is a continuation, for me, of the misperception of the highest calling of a journalist being neutrality. In fact the highest calling of a journalist is finding out the truth, wherever the truth lies. . . . And that's very different than we get from Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, which is opinion completely disconnected from fact.

--

Americans already seem confused with newspapers on the difference between their nonpartisan news pages and the opinion pages.

I don't think Americans are confused. I don't get that sense at all. I think the mainstream media, the traditional media, are increasingly accepting that there's nothing wrong with opinion-based journalism if it is also fact-based at the same time.

--

Now that the Bush administration is closing up shop, do you think that the hatred of the media that they've inflamed will finally cool?

I don't really think it's the Bush administration that's fueled the hatred of the media. I think it was the media's complicity in the lead-up to the war in Iraq that has been one of the darkest moments of American media -- and that helped fuel a lot of the dissatisfaction with the traditional media.

--

It was only recently that this spell of reverence for Bush lifted. Why'd it take so long?

I think it took so long because there is something about the conventional wisdom that is very addictive to members of the press. They don't want to diverge from it too far.

--

TV news seems so in love with the Internet right now, with CNN and its Twitter feeds and blogs. Where's that gonna end up?

I don't think it's love enough! We want more love! There's no doubt this is a bit of a transitional stage. And I think there'll be more and more interesting ways of getting that without making it "today on the radio . . ."

--

Looking at the Us Weekly-style coverage of the incoming First Family, do you think that the political-serious media and the celebrity-oriented media have finally merged?

I don't think they were ever fully separated! I think we always had the mix of the high and the low. . . . I think the American people have a schizophrenic attitude. We want our politicians to look good, be well-dressed, well-groomed -- but we don't want to think of them spending one moment looking good. That's why the John Edwards video of him fixing his hair had a negative impact.

--

What was the most under-covered story of 2008?

I think the most under-covered story for me was: How did we get here? How did we get suddenly, or appear suddenly, in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression? And exactly how did all these billions of dollars disappear? I think most immediately, the most under-covered story is how are the billions of bailout money being spent.

--

That's where newspapers are failing. Why isn't an entire desk devoted to covering the bailout?

Because you know they've been a certain way for so long. It's harder for newspapers that have all these traditions to course-correct, or try something new. And also, increasingly, with all the layoffs in newspapers, distributed journalists are the way to go. Inviting your readers to also be reporting what's happening.

--

Yes. Are you putting me out of a job?

No, no, no. Nobody can be doing these smart Q&As.

--

The problem is that thousands of people could. So what will change at the site now that the sexy election is over?

The sexy transition is on! The sexy next four years!

--

calendar@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|