Arianna Huffington is not just a professional schmoozer who writes books about why you should take naps; she is also the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. She has always taken a very hands-on approach to the editorial affairs of her enormous news site. (For example, she just hired her daughter as executive producer of a lavish new HuffPo video series.) At the same time, she is a prominent *OPEN SCARE QUOTES* “liberal” *CLOSE SCARE QUOTES* pundit, though her main activity in the class war has been terrorizing her own employees and helping out her prominent friends.
Uber, on the other hand, is a company valued at more than $60 billion that has earned the ire of the labor movement by systematically enriching itself by classifying its workers as “independent contractors” rather than regular employees. Forget undermining the taxi industry—many have a legitimate fear that Uber’s business model, left unchecked, could undermine the very foundations of the American middle class lifestyle, which has long relied on requiring employees to afford certain rights and benefits to employees. How quaint! Uber, a very newsworthy company, is also routinely reported on by journalists who work at HuffPo.
Today, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick announced via slickly produced video and blog post (crossposted to HuffPo, naturally) that Arianna is joining the company’s board, writing that “she believes deeply in our mission,” which he defines as “transportation as reliable as running water,” rather than the more accurate “making me and a small group of investors extremely wealthy.” He goes on to relay this story of dubious accuracy:
At a staff event last fall, Arianna told the crowd how she once used Uber to conjure a little magic of her own.
She recalled a panicked phone call from her former sister-in-law, Terry, who needed a ride for her daughter, who was stuck in Brooklyn during a snowstorm. Terry had tried every car service in town before calling her. “No problem,” Arianna said. “Tell Lindsay to look outside her window — there will be a car waiting for her in five minutes.” The crowd roared when she told them, “For the first time in my life, I felt like a genuine Greek goddess.”
Even for a woman whose career is built on a foundation of gratuitously self-serving schmoozing with the global elite, this is clearly both an editorial and a political conflict of interest. One HuffPo reporter, alluding to Arianna’s troublesome history of editorial advocacy for her friends, told us “People are obviously uncomfortable with the relationship, but at least we’re aware of this one.”
Arianna Huffington is also a board member of the Center for Public Integrity, an organization whose mission is “To serve democracy by revealing abuses of power, corruption and betrayal of public trust by powerful public and private institutions.” Her knowledge in this field continues to grow.
We have asked Huffington for comment and will update if we hear from her.