The Department Of Huffington Post

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 30, 2009

I suppose that since Arianna Huffington’s little hobbyhorse has become an arm of the Obama Administration, stories like the one carried by the Washington Post ought to come as no surprise whatsoever:

David Axelrod’s son is following his father’s career path — that is, the one he had before becoming a political strategist.

Ethan Axelrod is joining the Huffington Post, the liberal Web site that has been largely supportive of President Obama. His dad, now a White House senior adviser, was a Chicago Tribune reporter until he quit in 1984 to help run a Senate campaign (and still has a soft spot for newspapers, though his old one is in bankruptcy).

“I’ve been interested in journalism for a while,” the 22-year-old Axelrod said Tuesday. “I heard through my father that they were expanding, so I applied for it.”

Yup. Apparently, the relationship between the White House and HuffPo is close and cozy enough that David Axelrod knows about the hiring needs at HuffPo. Imagine if someone at the White House got their kid a job at the Post, or at the New York Times. Stories about how the media outlet in question has sold out its integrity and how the White House is manipulating the Fourth Estate would be legion. And yet, this story basically receives a yawn.

I don’t really blame HuffPo for wanting to get an in with the Administration. Barack Obama is still relatively popular, HuffPo is liberal in its outlook and supports him, and its prestige would be enhanced–at least for now–via a close relationship with the White House. As for the Obama Administration’s political office, it looks for compliance and adoration anywhere it can, and it is more than happy to accept compliance and adoration from an increasingly powerful player in the media. So I don’t blame the Administration for ingratiating itself with HuffPo. Its political shop would be incompetent if it failed to do so when there was an opportunity.

But I do blame the rest of the mainstream media for not calling out HuffPo for selling out its objectivity, its liberal politics notwithstanding. The Nation doesn’t act this way, after all. Neither does the American Prospect. Both publications share Barack Obama’s politics, but they don’t allow the White House’s political office to infiltrate them with willing and compromised recruits. And I blame the rest of the mainstream media for not calling out the White House on its inability to respect the division between the Executive Branch and the Fourth Estate. Some political manipulation and spinning of media outlets is understandable. But this is absurd.

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