Huffing, Puffing


There’s something heartening about the bone-deep awfulness of the Huffington Post. Launched Monday after generous pre-launch write-ups in both The New York Times and The Washington Post, limo liberal Arianna Huffington’s million-celebrity march on the blogosphere has so far proved to be everything wary natives could have hoped for. Essentially a random, rambling haze of brain farts uploaded by dozens of Huffington’s rich, famous, and/or powerful friends (M*A*S*H creator Larry Gelbart clearing his hard drive of such witticisms as “Here DeLay, gone tomorrow,” power lawyer and jogging enthusiast Mike Frankfurt asking in tones of quiet outrage, “Does anyone know who the Chairman of the Council for Physical Fitness is?”), the Huffington Post seems almost designed to vindicate blogging culture’s cherished belief that worldly fame and wealth count for little within its bounds.

So while it’s true, as Jack Shafer wrote in Slate, that reading the Web’s torrential response to the site has been “like watching a swarm of fire ants invade a robin’s nest and turn the chicks to red pulp,” don’t misconstrue. Huffington fans may want to paint the hostility as a right-wing-bloggers’ conspiracy, but it’s vaster and more complicated than that. Though the site is overwhelmingly about national politics (with a few token conservatives like the National Review’s Byron York and David “Axis of Evil” Frum thrown in), the reaction is not. It’s about cultural politics. The swarming bloggers aren’t so much attacking the enemy as gawking at the squares. And who can blame them? Watching these bigwigs try their hand at blogging is like watching that poor, pudgy Star Wars kid try out his light-saber moves in the home-video classic that saturated the Web a couple years back. Sure, maybe they’ll get the moves down eventually. But for now—come on. You’re gonna tell me that shit ain’t funny?