Bloggers dissect Ariana Huffington's new blog; they also discuss Detroit's proposed tax on fast food and the New York Times' efforts to be more transparent to its readers.
Huff 'n' puff: Yesterday, unsuccessful California gubernatorial candidate Arianna Huffington debuted her new Web site, the Huffington Post, as a platform where her celebrity friends (such as John Cusack, Ellen Degeneres, and Quincy Jones) can hold forth on culture and politics. Bloggers had a field day mocking the site. (Here's the inevitable parody.) The L.A. Weekly's Nikki Finke announces, "Her blog is such a bomb that it's the box-office equivalent of Gigli, Ishtar and Heaven's Gate rolled into one."
Media snark-blog Gawker has led the charge. "The sheer magnitude of thoughtless self-infatuation on display every moment on the Huffa-lator is simultaneously so exhilarating and so spiritually toxic that, based on a solid 15 minutes of copious online research," it hands out "Huffalumps" awards. Self-described "semi-conservative" blogger The Great Satan writes, "Huffington unwittingly has accomplished in a mere day what the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has tried to do for years by allowing the Hollywood/Media left to reinforce nearly every stereotype and label ever tossed their way."
"Nothing particularly clever or pithy coming from the celebs, and there's too much verbiage to give them all a chance. No one seems to have given much thought to how to write a blog. Have they even read other blogs?" asks law professor Ann Althouse. On Huffington Is Full of Crap, Laurence Simon points out, "Ariana Huffington doesn't think you (the unwashed non-celebrity public masses) should be able to comment or trackback to their site just yet, so I've set up this shell site where you can comment directly on their articles while posting links to your own commentary."
Then there are the contrarians. Right-wing diva Michelle Malkin opines, "I don't think Arianna's going to fail. Arianna is very good at what she does, which is to collect people like curios and throw sprawling house parties for them. … Face it: Many of us will go to the site and crane our necks to see who's making an ass of himself in Huffington's virtual living room, who's passed out in the powder room, who's plotting in the library, and who's kissy-kissing in the foyer." Jimmy at Greengourd's Garden writes, "I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised. … I was taken with, or at least entertained by, several first-day posts."
A fat tax?: Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has proposed a 2 percent tax on fast food sold in the city.
Linking to this Fox News story, Farrah writes on Cam Edwards.com, the blog of a former conservative radio announcer, "I wonder if the Mayor would be proposing a Fat Tax if he hadn't charged over $210,000 in meals and travel on his city issued credit card. It's going to take over $10,500,000 in fast food sales subject to the Fat Tax to cover his expenses." Libertarian KipEsquire of A Stitch in Haste notes, "Notice that the proposal does not call for earmarking the tax for anti-obesity programs or to specifically fund health-care costs. It's merely to fund general operations. Call me old-fashioned, but I think general taxes should fund general operations and targeted taxes should fund targeted programs."
"Why stop at Detroit? Why not create a 1.5% national junk food tax? I'm a Republican and a staunch believer in lower taxes but let's face it; we Americans have an obesity problem," encourages Chris Short on Our Life. Commenting on Hit & Run, the blog of Reason magazine, Evan Williams scoffs, "If I buy a salad at McD's, I pay extra tax, but if I buy a Bloomin' Indigest-ion from Outback, I don't? This idiot bastard Kilpatrick should be laughed out of town."
Read more about the proposed tax.
Read all over: The New York Times released an internal report yesterday enumerating ways in which the newspaper could improve its standing with readers. (Read the full report here.) Some recommendations include: increasing the coverage of religion, "using the Internet to provide documents used for stories and transcripts of interviews, and further curtailing the use of anonymous sources."
Conservatives aren't mollified. The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler (which describes itself as "an affiliate of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy") suggests that "Madonna will regain her virginity" before the NYT regains its credibility. But BuzzMachine's liberal media blogger Jeff Jarvis is pleased: "What I like most about it is that the committee recommends moves that will bring the paper and its readers into more of a conversation. I said yesterday that journalists blathering on at ethereal heights about journalistic ethics can be too self-centered. But journalists talking with citizens about the news and how it is covered in present tense can be useful and compelling."
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