[UPDATE 3:22pm EST] The Huffington Post has announced that they have removed Andrew Brietbart from their front page after the Daily Caller published an interview this morning in which Brietbart calls Van Jones a “commie punk.” In a statement to Greg Sargent at The Plum Line, HuffPo spokesman Mark Ruiz said:
The Huffington Post is committed to fostering a lively and often provocative debate about the issues of the day and encourages a wide range of voices from all perspectives to participate. Andrew Brietbart’s ad hominem attack on Van Jones in The Daily Caller — right down to calling him a “commie punk” and “a cop killer-supporting, racist, demagogic freak” — violates the tenets of debate and civil discourse we have strived for since the day we launched. As a result, we will no longer feature his posts on the front page.
He is welcome to continue publishing his work on HuffPost provided it adheres to our editorial guidelines, as the two posts he published on HuffPost did — guidelines that include a strict prohibition on ad hominem attacks. Our decision today recognizes that placing posts on the front page is an editorial call that elevates some posts over others, and is an indication of how seriously we take these judgment calls.
[UPDATE 3:00pm EST] The Huffington Post is standing by Andrew Brietbart. In an email received by Greg Sargent at The Plum Line, HuffPo spokesperson Mario Ruiz wrote:
ColorofChange.org, the organization that’s leading the call to have Brietbart’s work removed from the site’s front page, responded with a statement of its own:
From the beginning, The Huffington Post has welcomed voices from all sides of the political spectrum, including conservatives such as Newt Gingrich, Frank Luntz, Tom Coburn, Laura Ingraham, Bob Barr, George Pataki, David Frum, Byron York, Mary Matalin, and Ken Blackwell. The idea being that dialogue — from a wide range of perspectives — is preferable to silence. The fact that Andrew Breitbart’s first post on our site drew over 1,635 comments, conducted in a civil manner, seems to validate the premise and the decision to publish his blog post.
This isn’t about Breitbart being a conservative, or whether the Huffington Post allows him to post on their site; it’s about the decision of its editors to give him top billing, while he repeats falsehoods that have been debunked. This is about whether or not the Huffington Post considers itself a credible news outlet that chooses to adhere to any basic editorial standards when it decides what to elevate. The Huffington Post claims to have a policy about posts being subject to removal for being untruthful — but they haven’t applied that to Breitbart.
Critics are blasting editors at The Huffington Post for giving Andrew Breitbart prime real estate on the site this week. In an email sent to supporters this week, ColorofChange.org charges that unlike other, perhaps more credible, conservative voices on the site, Brietbart “has no regard for honest debate, and conservatives with integrity see Breitbart as an embarrassment, a con-artist.” Here’s more:
Andrew Breitbart targets key people and institutions within our community, in particular those who have dared talk about the reality of racism and race in this country — Shirley Sherrod, the NAACP, President Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus. And he targets those that seek to increase Black political participation, like ACORN, which until Breitbart’s fraud-based take-down had the strongest record of registering low-income Black voters in the country.
…The Huffington Post understands the power of featuring someone on its home page.5 It gives the author credibility and helps them spread their message. To give that placement to someone who has repeatedly shown complete disregard and hostility toward the truth, and who is a serial race-baiter, is irresponsible. It shows a lack of journalistic integrity, and it’s frankly an insult to our communities.
There’s a petition calling on editors at the Huffington Post to stop giving Brietbart prominent placement on the site. Slade Sohmer at Hypervocal writes that Brietbart’s prominent placement may be troublesome to liberals, but it’s simply part of the business model that puts high-trafficked stories above news from credible writers. Sohmer writes:
In one single decision, [Arianna] Huffington managed to wipe out the good journalistic deeds she’s done by hiring New York Times business reporter Peter Goodman and Newsweek senior Washington correspondent Howard Fineman. And it’s new Huffington hires like that who should be pissed about it.
The site’s also taken criticism recently for refusing to pay some of its writers. Shortly after its $315 million acquisition from AOL, several bloggers at the site protested against doing their work for free. The Huffington Post was clear on its position: bloggers get exposure, not paychecks. But that wasn’t a good enough explanation for some. “Since HuffPo is worth $315 million, I wonder why Ariana Huffington can’t afford to pay her contributors who make the content a single dime,” said Matt Bors, an editorial cartoonist for United Media, on Twitter, according to Neon Tommy.