The Sexist

Huffington Post: Liberal Politics, Sexist Entertainment

It's no secret that The Huffington Post fancies itself a left-leaning Web rag. Wikipedia describes Arianna Huffington's aggregatorial monster as "an American liberal news website." Conservapedia's definition, however, might be more helpful: "The site is an extreme mouthpiece for liberals," it reads. "The Huffington Post calls itself an internet newspaper of blogs, news and video but often is referred to as a hate site where its one-sided news cannot be trusted."

But even HuffPo's liberal readership gets tired of hating on conservatives sometimes, guys. Sometimes, they just want to sit back, relax, and look at accidentally bare nipples—just like the rest of America. This one-sided liberal hate site has one fatal weakness—boobs. Let's check out some recent stories from the Huffington Post's entertainment section:

* Here are some photos of Natalie Portman's nipple.

* Here are some photos of Beyonce's nipple, complete with HuffPo-provided "NSFW zoom."

* Here are some photos of Pamela Anderson's nipple (hardly news, but a boob's a boob).

* Here is an entire page devoted to recently naked women (and Barack Obama).

* Here is a collection of zoomed-in photos of 23 celebrities' breasts, made into a fun game called "Guess the Celebrity Breast Implants?"

Pretty standard entertainment-section blog fare here—though HuffPo does go above and beyond with the "NSFW zoom." You don't see a Beyonce nipple that close just anywhere.

So, what do nipple slips and boob jobs have to do with liberal politics?

The obvious answer, of course, would be nothing. People—even progressive, conservative-hating, liberal-minded people—will click on nipple slip slideshows and boob jobs guessing games, and that's a big part of the Huffington Post's model.

But look past the nipples, if you can, and you will find a clear liberal bent in HuffPo's non-boob Entertainment stories. Yesterday, the top three links on the Entertainment page could be considered GLBT interest stories: "Adam Lambert Confirms Rolling Stone To Address His Sexuality"; "WATCH: Neil Patrick Harris' FANTASTIC Tonys Closing Song"; "Gordon Ramsay Shocks Audience With 'Lesbian' Rant About Journalist." Also on the page yesterday was blogger Jackson Katz's post directly addressing the objectification of women in entertainment, titled "Eminem, Misogyny and the Sounds of Silence." Even "Guess the Celebrity Breast Implants" was inspired by a progressive premise: the Carrie Prejean controversy, which the Huffington Post began following as a homophobia-shaming story, before turning around and covering it as a topless-photograph-shaming story.

Here's the lib logic on that one: How dare this professional spokesmodel both hate gay people and take revealing modeling photographs? Our only choice is to shame her by posting them on our Web site. It is the only thing that will finally reveal her hypocrisy (and reel in the pageviews)!

This same Prejean logic is used by the Huffington Post to justify its other women-as-object pieces, as well. Though Senior Features editor Katherine Thomson didn't immediately return my request for comment yesterday, HuffPo has, in the past, addressed stray nipples directly. Cenk Uygur, host of "The Young Turks," took this position on the Janet Jackson flap:

CBS was fined $550,000 for showing Janet Jackson's right nipple on live television. Coal mines that endanger the lives of their workers are commonly fined $60 per violation. . . . How do you like those priorities?

Uygur has a point—who cares? It's just a nipple! Only a religious conservative would bother to make a stink out of a body part which most men, women, and children have in sets of two. It's almost enough to make fetishizing nipples on your Web site sound like a liberal position. If it pisses off the religious conservatives, that means it's a good thing, right? After all, this is just "entertainment," anyway—who cares if it's progressive or not when we're all just staring at nipples and having a good time? As Harry Shearer points out on HuffPo, everybody's doing it!

The problem is that people really do care about nipples. They care so much about nipples that the Huffington Post devotes pages and pages of photographs to them when women accidentally (or, you know, against their will) reveal them to the public. In that way, there's no difference between the religious conservative who is scandalized by a bare breast popping up in the middle of his football game and a liberal Web site which devotes its resources to naked chicks. A woman's body part is a priority. Real women's issues, not so much.

The Prejean logic, while tenuous, is at least accompanied by her blatant homophobia; how items like "Rihanna's Battered Face (PHOTO)" and "Valerie Bertinelli Gets Back In Her Bikini" key into HuffPo's liberal identity remains a mystery to me. But I'm confident that any item that reaps a lot of pageviews can some way, somehow, be justified as "liberal."


  1. #1

    huffpo sucks. thanks for this. it is very good.

  2. #2

    Nice piece Amanda!

  3. #3

    Of course it can be justified. Perhaps as America fully embraces the shame-based humor of "European" style tabloids we must also embrace the rest of the world's definition of "liberal," and discard our own incoherent definition, which connotes nothing more than "reliably Democratic voter."

    In the rest of the world "liberal" does not connote any particular concern for women's rights or minority group rights. Instead, the term refers to liberalism in the classical, philosophical sense. Liberalism in this sense emphasizes 1) the division between State/Public and Civil/Private concerns and 2) a list of rights universally conferred upon citizens, among them "free speech".

    Of course, historically, the actual implementation of this philosophy has always coexisted with the existing power structures of sexism, racism, and imperialism. And this paternalism is even philosophically consistent so long as the subjugated groups are reduced to a childlike status who need to be guided or civilized. So long as the "greater good" is secured by a paternalistic liberal order, and so long as the State doesn't cross the boundaries established by constitutionally enumerated civil/property rights, this order is justified, even if there is some necessary violence. That's the idea, anyway.

    Are self-identified American "liberals" Liberal? Yes, but their vaguely egalitarian motivations* to raise the status of historically marginalized groups is more accurately connoted by the term "progressive". Fortunately, this term is in wide use, although I imagine fewer people would self-identify as progressives than as liberal. Could the sexist fluff on HuffPo be justified as "progressive"? Probably not, as it is difficult to see how nip slip stories better the status of women at this point in history.

    And it figures that the confused American usages of "liberal" and "conservative" serves our fake choice two-party political system. The Democrats and Republicans, using these fairly empty terms, can cynically bargain for (and betray) constituencies while appearing to "stand for something". The trouble is that when asked, most politicians can only give conflicting or incoherent answers as to what that "something" is.

    [*There are moderate rightist, as well as leftist varieties of these (vaguely) egalitarian concerns, which usually don't concern themselves with a wholesale critique of how the "system" is organized. See conservative localism, communitarianism, the writings of Wendell Barry, or the bloggers of for interesting challenges to elite American politics from conservatives.]

  4. #4

    Just what is your position here? I think you're saying that anything bawdy is sexist, which sadly leads to a puritan conclusion. This fascination with nipples is immature, but if the alternative is your school-marm dictates, then I'm sure you won't mind if I drop out. I'm not alone: history has shown that people, given a choice between liberal capitalism (that allows people to allow themselves to be "exploited") and bureaucratic "socialism" (that lets petty tyrants rule over daily life), chose the former.

  5. #5

    the more I think about it, the weirder it seems -- this is your beat, but you take no joy in it. What's up with that?

  6. #6

    re coleman:
    bullshit bullshit bullshit cough cough WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT.

    maybe the two sections are just edited by two different people. also, celebrities aren't human so they can't be held to the same standards.

  7. #7

    Rembrandt, I don't think that there is a "choice" being presented here between liberalism and tyranny. I won't presume to speak for Hess, but I read the post as a more narrow critique of HuffPo for its own inconsistency. HuffPo is known as a politically progressive web magazine and yet it publishes sexist content that would ostensibly contradict that position.

    Now, given that no one in this forum has proposed government censorship, it is interesting that you should see the specter of totalitarianism here. It is even more interesting that, in your second comment, you take issue with Hess' lack of enjoyment of the sexism beat. I wonder what you think of the journalist assigned to the local crime beat?

    The obvious objection is that sexist speech is not a crime. Nor should it be. But IF you believe that it is a problem (and it is completely coherent to deny this premise), then what are you to do? Remain silent?

  8. #8

    For shame, Arianna! Such tawdriness would never have sullied the Huffington City Paper.

  9. #9

    Oddly enough, I have seen just a few "naked women" links/photos at Huff Post, and I didn't see any of the ones you mentioned in your article. Maybe I'm just not putting as much effort as you do into finding them. I need to try harder to see the conspiracy, but obviously almost the whole celeb section is morally bankrupt. If that keeps the better parts of the site in business, that's OK with me .

  10. #10

    The Huffington Post smells of shit and requires a bath.

  11. #11

    Pages and pages were also devoted to Hillary Hate at Huffy-poop too, during the primary of 2008. Her cleavage was top story for days on end! They couldn't find Hillary's nipple, but they got as close as they could. The figurative lynching of Sarah Palin--and the pictures of the Palin effigy hanging on the LA wacko's roof--were also top of the fold. You know, it doesn't surprise me that Cenk Uyger thinks women's nipples are A-OK; but it does surprise me that Arianna--who has two daughters of her own--would stoop to such tabloid tactics. Maybe Rupert Murdoch is her idol, because she certainly is following in his footsteps. I personally prefer NEWS sites with integrity--RealClearPolitics/Markets/World would be my overwhelming choice. Shame on Arianna for such a trashy tabloid contribution to the discourse.

  12. #12

    "The Prejean logic, while tenuous, is at least accompanied by her blatant homophobia..."

    Blatant homophobia? Where? Her answer was practically indistingishable from Barack Obama's on the campaign trail, and it was couched in plenty of deferential language, then prefaced with "I belive ..."

    Believing that marriage is between a man and a woman is an opinion, not "homophobia".

    Diversity of opinion is only good, I guess, if you happen to have an "approved" opinion.

  13. #13

    Having been on campus since the 1960's and having shared my life with all those on the Left, let me tell you that the Left's objectification of women is no secret, not even on the Left. Self aware members of the Left have said for decades that if abuse of women were to become a serious topic of conversation then all the leading men on the Left would have to line up and take their medicine.

  14. #14

    As a Democrat, Huff disgusts me! That is why I love to go on the site and comment on some of their most extreme positions!
    But, normally they delete any comments contrary to their extremist views.
    Most of my comments never get posted while the trash by most posters is always there!

  15. #15

    i read huffpost everyday at work, lots of good reads. judging from your article, it would appear as if you are a conservative. try this, stop focusing your energy on trashing liberal entertainment media and propaganda, and start to focus on how to take back the lost dignity of the right wing. if you try that you may actually get something done. also thanks for letting me kno that huffpost has nipple shots, i never knew that, ill be sure to check them out. btw dont bother replying to this comment because i will not be back to this website to check it. peace.

    a liberal democrat from new york named tim

    ps. dont forget to hail to the chief!!!

  16. #16

    hahahaha. tim33ny is a prime example of huffpoop's readership.

    -libby mcliburul

  17. #17

    It's a rag. Huffington is into self-promotion and controversy, and she has on numerous occasions publicly declared her own hostility to feminism. Regardless of whether that makes her endearing to you, it doesn't make her any more or less representative of so called "liberal" ideals. Trash Huffington all you want, but stop throwing the word liberal around as if you know what it means, or as a ridiculous antonym for all things that aren't "conservative".

    The woman is a wacko libertarian, and the paper is entirely consistent with its editors political stance.

  18. #18

    There's the connection. Huffpo is not a newspaper or a magazine, it's a network of blogs. If Huffington asked you to be a contributor you contribute and no one edits in order to frame a specific worldview.

    So some contributors are interested in politics and some are interested in celebrity gossip (Huffington lives in LA, it's not a peculiar mix). Combine that with the fact that most people who can form coherent sentences and complete a paragraph without spell check are liberal and you have your explanation. Voila!

  19. UnremarkableFiend

    The Huffington Post is absolutely a liberal rag, that much is certain.

    Unfortunately, you started your article with a post quoted from the Conservapedia. I waited for the disclaimer, didn't see it, stopped reading.

    Far Left, Far Right, both are lockstepping, parroting morons.

  20. #20

    How dare this professional spokesmodel both hate gay people and take revealing modeling photographs?

    You know, she was asked the question. Perhaps the real issue should have been why the question was asked to begin with. So if asking the question is okay, then one needs to be pro gay marriage in order to be part of the pageant?
    In any event, her answer in no way indicated a hatred for gay people. She simply stated her opinion on gay marriage. You can be against gay marriage without hating gay people, right?

  21. #21

    You're right on about HuffPost, but most sites do the same ( is one of the leading practitioners of this strategy, IMHO)

  22. #22

    DailyKos does the same crap. We're fighting for the rights of the people, freedom, and equal treatment - while spewing misogyny.

    This is why I read the NYT. They may have Scientology ads but at least they don't have ads and articles objectifying women.

  23. #23

    You are really,really on the ball with this.
    Over the years of using the internet, I've come across blogs/websites/forums linking to HuffPost articles.
    Many of the people lean so far left there they'd end up being on the right if they don't watch it.
    In "liberal" world, it's ok to call out a Christian if she does not adhere to her own belief system at every breath she takes.
    But a non Christian is free to do things and no one had better not call them out on anything,create smear articles because that would be judgmental!
    HP is puts the "h" in hypocrisy. I've seen several Sarah Palin comments that were sexist but if you discuss Miley Cyrus's naked photos you're being horrible and you're slut-bashing!
    Shouldn't SELECTIVE slut-bashing just as bad, or even worse than slut-bashing?

    I don't like being tied to political sects,but hypocrisy is not something created by the right,and they're not the only ones showing hypocrisy.

    It's ok to talk about (write about)Sarah Palin in a sexist tone by making condescending commentary about what she has on, her body, her breasts, even go as far as to talk about her daughter-but god forbid you talk about anyone left expressing sexuality or is just as a pain in the ass-you'll be called a puritanical prude.

    There were people from the left defending Carrie Prejean when said photos were leaked, and they either got heavily ignored or got snark remarks. Not all of them are idiots,I guess.

    It's a damn cult over there..and any leftie linking to it will be ignored by me.They can feel free to chat about the latest movie but I don't want to read anymore HP garbage.

    And yes I will bash a slut.
    Take them to my house and eat them baked with a side of peas,tyvm,HP.

  24. #24

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  25. #25

    The Huffington Post is a joke. They report stories in a manner which pushes their one sided agenda.
    If you post a comment which opposes their views, they immediately delete that comment and your profile.

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