The fact that Arianna Huffington shamelessly exploited politically motivated liberal writers for her own personal financial gain is something that carries a strong de'jÃ vu element for folks living in Berkeley CA because it echoes an episode from the city's journalism history when the staff of the Berkeley Barb figured out that the publisher was making enormous profits from their efforts and paying them in a niggardly (that's a legitimate word and not a racial slur-word) fashion to increase his personal savings account balance. The aggrieved reporters walked out and started their own weekly publication, the Berkely Tribe, to be run in majority consensus fashion and, according to one of the participants, also operated the newsroom/editorial boardroom as a hippie commune style house.
[There is a folk axiom that asserts that those who forget history are doomed to repeat what has previously happened. If that is a valid bit of wisdom, the folks who remember that Muammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, and Hosni Mubarak all came to power via service in their country's military during time of civil unrest in a Muslim nation, will be among the few who find that the situation in Egypt has some very ominous implications.]
The fact that, to the best of our ability to discern, the recently sold Huffington Post website has not seen fit to cover the story about the U. S. Chamber of Commerce efforts to pay public relation specialists $2 million to discredit Brad Friedman (and the Bradblog, and other web entities), let alone even run a link to the Bradblog in their list of sites for fans of the liberal point of view, may give a big hint to her group of keystroke slaves just where the rollercoaster ride is going to take them. If they lived in Berkeley and were aware of the circumstances that facilitated the birth of the Berkeley Tribe publication, they might not take as long to figure it out.
At this point, some cynics might want to ask why would a columnist who has been a member of Teamsters local 229 and who was protected from capricious and arbitrary conduct by management at a nationally known news wire service in New York City by the Guild, which promised a strike in response to the shoddy treatment of "the last hired" guy, would object to labor issues at a website that doesn't use his stuff, but will contribute material to other digital underground newspaper type websites.
There is a difference between breaking every rule you can bend and going "way over the line." There is a difference between being exploited and willingly going along with program. Is there a difference between rape and using rough sex as a method of making love? Yes. Is the difference visual? No. We rest the case.
There is an urban legend in the journalism industry about the time a staff photographer for LIFE magazine spent a month aboard an ocean liner for an assignment and when he turned in his expense account, he had listed the spending of some money for taxi fares. The ever vigilant accounting department challenged that particular expense. When the photographer glibly responded "It was a big ship," they let it slide. Does the term "gonzo blogging" convey a valid concept?
Getting up at O-dark-thirty, to write a column gratis can be rationalized if the writer can fulfill some personal needs, other than the monetary dependence one, such as getting the feeling that he is (in a very small echo way) walking a mile in Herb Caen's moccasins or being given the chance to symbolically raise his middle finger in a gesture aimed at "the Establishment."
Getting up before dawn to crank out a freebie column because the editor/publisher owner/operator of a website thinks "we have to work harder to help Democratic candidates" win in November of 2011, is a particularly galling experience if the writer happens to be convinced (by reading the Bradblog too much?) that the election will be a sham/fraud and that the results (the Inauguration of JEB) are a done deal. Just thinking about it makes the words of "Memo from Turner" ("you schmucks all work for me!") reverberate in his head.