[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]
Here’s the $315,000,000 question – is Arianna Huffington’s decision making process imploding only a few weeks after AOL bought the Huffington Post?
The Daily Caller is out with a big piece today on the Huffington Post and Andrew Breitbart that quotes me extensively. I’m going to expand on a piece I did today on my own blog at LeeStranahan.com but if you aren’t familiar with the Huffington Post / Andrew Breitbart story I’d point you to this round up as well these pieces that explain my connection to the story and Andrew Breitbart.
Roy Sekoff’s Untruth
In today’s Daily Caller article, I talk about something I mentioned here last week – that in a phone conversation a few months ago, HuffPost editor Roy Sekoff had told me that neither he or Arianna Huffington thought Andrew Breitbart was a racist but that they didn’t come to his defense during the countless attacked he’s endured – including many on the Huffington Post — because it would put them in a bad position with their liberal friends.
Stranahan said he asked Sekoff about Breitbart before he started working for the conservative publisher since in the left-wing circles Breitbart is viewed as “Satan.”
“Roy was as clear as can be. ‘Of course, no, of course he’s not racist’ he said ‘I know that,’” Stranahan said in a phone interview. “He said, ‘we know that.’ There was no case of Roy going, well, ‘I don’t, of course, think he is racist, but Arianna does.’ Arianna knows he’s not racist because he’s not racist. Anyone who knows him personally knows he’s not.”
Sekoff denies that conversation, and told TheDC he never said any of that to Stranahan. “If you publish that, you will be publishing an untruth,” Sekoff said in an email to TheDC. “I never said that to Lee – or anyone else. Period.” (Emphasis added)
Roy Sekoff is lying. Period.
The truth leaves tracks. Roy and I had that conversation and I mentioned it to a few other people privately at the time. One of them was liberal Mediaite reporter (and Breitbart critic) Tommy Christopher. Here’s a statement I got from Tommy when I heard that Roy was flat-out denying that the conversation took place.
Lee Stranahan and I have had many off-the-record conversations regarding Lee’s involvement with Andrew Breitbart, many of them centered on that relationship’s effect on Lee’s status with the online left. During one such conversation several months ago, in December or January, I remember Lee telling me basically what he told The Daily Caller about Roy Sekoff and Arianna Huffington, that they knew that Breitbart was no racist. It stands out to me because his mention of Sekoff reminded me of how he and Huffington treated Mayhill Fowler, which we also discussed.
That shows I’ve been telling the same story for months; long before Breitbart wrote a thing for HuffPost. Why would I make up that story and tell people about it?
But more importantly – if I’m lying about Roy telling me that he doesn’t believe Breitbart is a racist, then why would Roy issue a statement saying that Breitbart isn’t a racist?
Sekoff and HuffPo spokesman Mario Ruiz would neither confirm nor deny to TheDC that Huffington removed language from last week’s statement defending Breitbart against charges of racism. But, through Ruiz, Sekoff told TheDC he does not think Breitbart is a racist.
“Roy absolutely does not think Andrew Breitbart is a racist, as he made clear to me during discussions this week about whether to continue front paging Breitbart,” Ruiz said in an email to TheDC. (Emphasis added)
Careful, Mario – Roy might deny saying that any day now.
And Why I Think He’s Lying
One positive thing you can say about Roy’s character; it’s obvious he’s a very bad liar. These are rookie mistakes. In fact, I think the think the thing that should be most alarming to the shareholders of AOL is just how unprofessional this whole episode has been.
Why would Roy Sekoff lie in such a confusing way? Why say the conservation with me never happened where he said Breitbart wasn’t a racist – and then release a statement saying that Breitbart isn’t a racist? And why is that statement released through a spokesman? Why not just say it himself?
Thinking about all this, I end up with one likely scenario; Roy doesn’t want Arianna to know that he told me what she thinks. He’s falling on the sword to protect Arianna.
You’ll note that nowhere have we seen HER opinion of Breitbart and the accusations made about him. That’s because those accusations of racism and race-baiting come from her friends; people like Van Jones.
Does Arianna think Breitbart is racist? She won’t go on record and don’t just take my word that Roy told me she doesn’t but look at her actions. She knows him personally. They not only worked together but he knows her children and so on. They worked together after she did her suddenly switch to the left She met with Breitbart a couple of months ago. He blogged at HuffPost a week ago. She knows. Of course she knows.
So why not go on the record and simply say, “I know Breitbart and I don’t agree with him on policy but he’s not a racist”?
Because she CAN’T. She’s not allowed to do that because she knows the left would eat her alive. They don’t just need conservatives to be wrong; they need them to be discredited completely. They need them to be crazy and racist and evil because those are three groups of people you just don’t listen to, period. Crazy, racist and evil are three immediate disqualifiers from public discourse.
So what we’re seeing is full Arianna protection mode – and why’s that? Because of personal loyalty and AOL. Arianna isn’t the top dog any more. She answers to people now and that’s a new role for her. And so far, it’s a massive fail – she’s lost readers and credibility.
PS Fight Back
One last point – if this bothers you, fight back. Since working with Breitbart, I’ve gotten to see front row how the liberal media and liberal groups work to distort the truth and smear conservatives. I still believe in many liberal policy positions but I hate this kind of tactics. It’s weak.
But – those tactics are effective. So I have urged Andrew to do something that I’m told is unusual; fight petition with petition. A company like AOL gets nervous when they get a few thousand emails on a subject. This isn’t a boycott or any crazy chain letter – it’s a proven way to get the attention of the press and of companies If you oppose the sort of bullying tactics that Color of Change used against Breitbart, please take 7 seconds and fill out the form. And urge others to sign, too.
– Lee Stranahan