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."