- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 28, 2009

Should we fear Arianna Huffington and her mighty HuffPo? Dunno. Should we praise her? Nope, says one critic who examined the underpinnings of the Huffington media empire and emerged unimpressed.

“What is the Huffington Post, really? It likes to pretend that it’s a respectable voice in the mediasphere, but it shamelessly pumps up its traffic by being just as trashy as, say, Maxim. It also likes to masquerade as a forward-thinking, paradigm-shifting journalistic institution, but it pays only a handful of actual journalists, and its idea of ‘journalism’ is often downright parasitic of the work of real journalistic institutions,” says Simon Dumenco of Ad Age.

He was vexed that on the very day he was interviewed by the Swedish press about Ms. Huffington’s prowess as a journalist, the most popular story on her Web site was something called “Heather Graham: Tantric Sex ‘Works For Me.’” The story quoted 13 sentences from the Daily Mail, with a little flourish of 58 staff-written words.

“And that, folks, is HuffPo’s true business model,” Mr. Dumenco said.

He also chastised Syracuse University — my alma mater, by the way — for bestowing a serious “lifetime achievement award” in journalism upon Ms. Huffington.

“My annoyance had to do with the fact that the Newhouse School, which trains journalists, was rewarding a woman who has helped to further devalue content. … In fact, at the rate we’re going, if the Newhouse School can stay in business by continuing to sucker students into paying tuition, I fully expect this course to end up on the curriculum:

Building Value by Devaluing Content: How to Make Your Investors Rich By Being Cheap, Trashy and Parasitic.”

Lest we forget

Life goes on in the “sand box,” despite the fact that most of the press carries little substantial news about Iraq and Afghanistan these days.

Simple Defense Department numbers say much, though — like these from a recent, one-day search-and-clear operation conducted by American troops and Afghan National Army commandos in Khost and Zabul provinces in southeastern Afghanistan.

Found and destroyed: 2,500 rocket-propelled grenades, 1,100 pounds of opium, 300 pounds of black tar opium, 1,600 pounds of ammonium nitrate.

Shots fired: 0.

Casualties or deaths: 0.

Way to go, everybody.

And in the odd miracles of our time, you can follow and support activities of these oft-amazing military forces online at https://twitter.com/usfora and www.facebook.com/usforcesafghanistan. Imagine. The combat troops are twittering. What would intrepid World War II journalist Ernie Pyle have to say about such a thing?

We can only guess. But he might have said, “Way to go, everybody.”

Quotes of note

“Muckrakers’ Happy Hour” — new social event sponsored by the Project on Government Oversight.

“Hot Dog Diplomacy” — Sociable overtures made to Iran by the White House (multiple news reports).

“I’m glad John Wayne didn’t live to see this, so he never had to browse through his metrosexual wardrobe for just the right designer eye patch.” — Jim Bohannon on political correctness, in Human Events.

“There’s not really any question that zombie movies reflect left-leaning politics.” — Damon W. Root, in Reason.

By the numbers

87 percent of Americans are worried to some degree about the federal deficit.

28 percent say the economic stimulus program will help the economy.

19 percent say it will damage the economy.

52 percent say it will have no impact.

56 percent approve of President Obama’s work on the economy.

48 percent approve of his work on the federal budget deficit.

54 percent favor a smaller government with fewer services.

41 percent favor a larger government with more services.

Source: Washington Post/ABC News poll of 1,001 adults conducted June 18 to 21.

Days of yore

On this day in 1778, the legendary “Molly Pitcher” took her husband’s place in the Battle of Monmouth after he was overcome by heat. A scholarly account by Emily J. Teipe written a decade ago said Molly could have been Mary Ludwig Hayes — wife of a soldier and pregnant at the time. Part of her petticoat was blown off.

But in this age of plenty, why just have one Molly? Historians say other contenders for the title include Margaret Corbin, a “transvestite soldier” and Deborah Sampson, who later took to the stage and re-enacted her feats in a blue and white uniform, toting a musket and marching through 27 military maneuvers.

Go have a martini, or a fancy latte, anyway. On this day 115 years ago, Congress made Labor Day a national holiday.

Seems like only yesterday for some, Mr. Kim Jong-il: Sixty years ago to the day, the last U.S. combat troops were called home from Korea, leaving only 500 advisers behind. And exactly one year after that, North Korean forces invaded and then captured Seoul, South Korea. Last but not least, on this day two years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the American bald eagle from the Endangered Species list after finding that nesting populations had sufficiently recovered. And for that we applaud, and say, “AWK.”

Contact Jennifer Harper at [email protected] or 202/636-3085. Follow her at twitter.com/harperbulletin.

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