Media fight! Media fight! We haven't had one of these in awhile.
On a day when her new company — AOL — was busy laying off roughly 1,000 employees, Arianna Huffington responded to New York Times executive editor Bill Keller's oddly personal attack on Huffington and news aggregators — published in this weekend's New York Times magazine — with a spirited defense that makes Keller look sillier than his column.
In a post published on her site late Thursday, Huffington writes:
Keller's attack is as lame as it is laughable. I wonder if that Hollywood screenwriter who Keller giddily tells us has purchased an option on his life-rights will include this scintillating episode in his movie?
Her counterattack begins like this:
Perhaps unsettled by the fact that, when combined, The Huffington Post and AOL News have over 70 percent more unique visitors than the New York Times, and that HuffPost/AOL News' combined page views in January 2011 were double the page views of the Times (1.5 billion vs. 750 million), New York Times executive editor Bill Keller decided to unleash an exceptionally misinformed attack on HuffPost in a column released today and slated for this weekend's NYT Magazine.
After opening his piece by patting himself on the back so hard I'd be surprised if he didn't crack a rib (it seems everyone — even Woody Allen and those folks on Twitter — thinks he's super "powerful" and "influential"!), Keller turned to the putative subject of his column: "the 'American Idol'-ization of news" and the evils of "aggregation." Hearkening back to the glory years when Rupert Murdoch and his minions labeled sites that aggregate the news "parasites," "content kleptomaniacs," "vampires," and "tech tapeworms in the intestines of the Internet" (the news industry equivalent of "your mama wears army boots!" although, not quite as persuasive), Keller says of aggregation: "In Somalia this would be called piracy. In the mediasphere, it is a respected business model."
He then describes HuffPost's offerings as nothing more than "celebrity gossip, adorable kitten videos, posts from unpaid bloggers and news reports from other publications." I wonder what site he's been looking at.
And Huffington successfully defends herself against Keller's claim that she "aggregated" an idea he presented on a panel they were both on to a radio reporter after the event.