Huffington's Solution: More Meditation and Wonder
HuffPo head wants us all to have a better attitude
It may have been corporations and their CEOs that got America into trouble. But in the view of self-appointed spokeswoman for progressive online media Arianna Huffington, we should all just trust the same CEOs to fix everything.
The founder of Huffington Post was in Austin Oct. 17 to celebrate and raise funds for two institutions – the Texas Observer and the Texas Nature Project. Yet she used it as an opportunity for pre-publicity for her upcoming book The Third Metric. Her core argument, she said, is that American political life is "unmanageable, as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous," and that the problem is the leadership. "It's not that they're not smart, it's not that they don't have a high IQ. It's that they're not wise."
In Huffington's world view, what they need is "a sense of wonder," to recalibrate their work/life balance, and reexamine the role of stress in everyday life. For anyone in the struggling work force who hadn't already figured that one out, she warbled that they should look to their bosses. For example, she said, "Mark Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, at a conference two weeks ago for the first time said he's been meditating for two decades." And at his funeral, Apple founder Steve Jobs had Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi distributed to the mourners.
The solution to our predicament, according to Huffington, is to have a better attitude. That's why she was so high on a section of her site called "Good News, which only has good news. ... It'll make you optimistic about human nature again." It's also probably caused optimism amongst Huffington Post's bean counters. Already the third most successful part of the website, with recent headlines including such searing exposes as, "Whoa! Teen Finds 3.85-Carat Gem After Digging For 2 Hours," and "Watch: Cat's Crazy Jump is the Awesomest," it now has a waiting list for commercial sponsors.
As KEYE news anchor Judy Maggio put it in her introduction, Huffington is "undeniably one of the most influential people in our country right now." But there is still much debate about whether that influence is for good or ill, especially in journalism. While the site regularly touts its Pulitzers for investigative journalism, much of its content is either links to other sites, repurposed Buzzfeed-style clickbait, or free content provided by volunteer bloggers. Seemingly without irony, Huffington railed against "the fact that we have incredible unemployment among young people, that we still have a declining middle class, that we still have declining upward mobility."
Not that Huffington herself is hurting. In 2011, AOL acquired Huffington Post from her for $315 million – in the process, laying off paid writers and freelancers in other divisions. As editor-in-chief, she has successfully fended off a class action suit from her own bloggers, as well as strikes by content providers, and boycotts. As the National Writers Union argued in 2011, "If you cover the news for anybody, you should get paid."
Well, somebody's getting paid at Huffington Post.