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NYT Says AOL/TechCrunch ‘Comically Crossed Journalistic Lines’ With New VC Fund

AOL editorial chief Arianna Huffington says Michael Arrington is no longer on the editorial payroll, but the blustery blogger insists “I am TechCrunch, and TechCrunch is me”

Has blustery technology blogger Michael Arrington really stepped down as editor from AOL's influential TechCrunch, or is he continuing to run the blog while operating a new venture capital fund?

That is the question New York Times media scribe David Carr posed Sunday, as contradictory messages emerged from the respective AOL and Arrington camps.

Reaching AOL editorial chief Arianna Huffington by phone, Carr was told that Arrington had indeed relinquished his role as managing editor of TechCrunch, which was acquired by AOL last year, to run the new venture capital firm CrunchFund.

"David, honestly, don't be silly," Huffington told Carr, admonishing him for his skepicism. "It is very, very clear that they are distinct entities and Michael will have no influence on coverage"

The reason for Carr's doubt? Earlier, Arrington — a lawyer and investor who started the blog in 2005 — told NYT colleague Claire Cain Miller, "I am TechCrunch and TechCrunch is me."

All of this left Carr a little incredulous.

"The idea of a news site that covers every aspect of nascent tech companies sharing a brand name and founder with a venture capital firm financing these same companies seems almost comically over the line," Carr noted. 

Announcing the new fund last week — as well as its $10 million contribution to it — AOL CEO Tim Armstrong noted, “TechCrunch is a different property and they have different standards. We have a traditional understanding of journalism with the exception of TechCrunch, which is different but is transparent about it.”

As Carr noted, those "different standards" haven't stopped Arrington and TechCrunch from firing shots at the journalistic acumen of others.

For his part, Arrington recently took aim at  Caterina Fake, the co-founder of both Flickr and Hunch, for breaking the news of her own start-up herself.

Also read: TechCrunch Wants AOL to Fire Moviefone Editor

And in March, TechCrunch editors demanded the firing of AOL Moviefone editor Patricia Chui after a Moviefone staffer forwarded the tech blog a note from Summit Entertainment asking them to tone down the snark regarding the film "Source Code."