My parents raised me to stand by my convictions. That hasn't always worked out as well as I'd hoped, but I do have quite a bit to be proud of as far as sticking to my guns on various issues. I haven't shopped in a Walmart store since 2005, because I don't support their business practices or their treatment of employees. I haven't drank alcohol since 2003, simply because I enjoy sobriety and see no need in killing off brain cells. And at 33 years of age, I've never once even tried marijuana. I know that's pretty hard to believe, but it's a fact. I choose not to do it; like I said earlier, I enjoy sobriety.
And today, after a few weeks of consideration, I've decided to strike another negative influence from my life, though this one might not make quite as much sense to the casual observer: from this day forward, I will not read or view content on the Huffington Post, shy of people ambushing me with links, of course.
Strange, isn't it? There was a time, not that long ago I might add, where I'd have given just about anything to write for "HuffPo." Any old-school Viner will be quick to tell you that I'm about as liberal as a person gets, and the Huffington Post leans so far to the left it's amazing they can stand up straight. So why am I done with the website? Why did I remove them as one of my homepages? Why do I now believe there isn't enough money printed in the world to make me write for them?
Simply put? The Huffington Post sucks now. There's no gentle or polite way of putting that, so there it is. The items on my list of complaints might seem small to some of you, but for the past year, this has been a war of attrition, and each of these items continuously pecked away and poked me in the chest until I finally decided today that a little thing was big enough to call upon that aforementioned courage of my convictions. What, you're probably wondering, are my reasons? Well, here are a few of them...
They have the journalistic integrity of Fox News. That's not to say they agree with Fox on much of anything... they obviously don't. But their level of journalism is roughly on par with that of Fox. You see, I appreciated what Huffington Post was for me personally. I considered it to be a guilty pleasure for liberals, like Keith Olbermann used to be before his downfall. So long as you're getting real news from real sources, there's no harm in hearing people you agree with espouse on those same issues. What makes Fox News dangerous is that quite a few people consider what they do to be real news. But in the past year, Huffington Post transformed. They aren't like MSNBC anymore, dishing up selective facts that support our mutually-shared ideological positions. Instead, they're more like Fox News now, sensationalizing headlines and stories, making martyrs out of their stubbed-toe brethren... it's been getting pretty ridiculous, and I'd feel plenty stupid if I ripped Fox News one day and read the Huffington Post the next.
Their content is nothing short of abysmal now. It's not that they use the wrong "there" in a sentence, or fail to use Oxford commas, but their writing tends to pull a D- grade most of the time, in my view anyway. Their content is rife with typos. They leave vast swaths of critical information out of articles. And don't even get me started on "HuffPo Live." They had a golden opportunity to create a free, proper news network on the web, doing what cable news has failed to do since the mid-1990's... report the news. Instead, the network is packed to the brim with special interest stories, puff pieces, roundtable discussions... all the things we all passionately hate about cable news, squished together in one easy-to-hate place. Their content needed a revamp a year ago, and it keeps getting worse. I think I can safely say that most of the people who've read my content know that I'm not an arrogant person. But if you were to ask me if I could do it better, the answer would be a resounding "yes."
Their endless objectification of women. Go to Huffington Post right now. Count how many headlines you can see before you come across an article on their front page discussing sheer dresses, nude-colored fabrics, wardrobe malfunctions, nip-slips, bikini bods, or some other content of that nature which is purely designed to turn women into an object they can sell to readers in the hopes of making them come back the next day. Last summer, I remember seeing one article that showed off some celebrity's overly-sensual bikini. Right beneath that article... I mean literally, in the box directly under it... was an article talking about how women should be proud of their image despite what they're built like. Yeah. F#@%ing Huffington Post.
The Newsroom. This is probably going to fall into the category of "really Matt? You're complaining about this?" But I can't stand how with every opportunity they have, the Huffington Post rips into Aaron Sorkin's HBO series "The Newsroom," bashing it endlessly and claiming it's a terrible program. I really love that show. It's a breath of fresh air to see something intelligent in a televised drama for a change. Maybe if I saw something intelligent show up on Huffington Post once in a while, I'd still consider myself a fan of theirs?
Silencing the opposition. It isn't a conspiracy theory drummed up by the right, it's an honest-to-Bob fact: Huffington Post silences conservative points of view on their site. I've followed enough threads there to have seen it myself, repeatedly. Sometimes it makes sense. I'm just as sick of hearing conservatives blather about George Soros or birth certificates as anyone. But they really do silence anyone that says anything they don't like. Don't believe me? I recently commented that I do not approve of President Obama sending arms to the Syrian rebels. That's the truth... I don't think it's a good idea. It looks, sounds, tastes, smells, and feels way too similar to Ronald Reagan arming Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban in the 1980's when Russia was at war with Afghanistan. That comment was published on Huffington Post for all of 17 minutes. Someone on their staff decided to remove it, without word or warning. Why? You'll have to ask them. They also delete any posts that are critical of the Huffington Post, even if you're perfectly on topic. Can you imagine if I deleted every comment where someone was critical of an article I wrote? I can think of a few articles in the past where I'd have two hundred fewer comments, or more.
I'm not writing this to encourage you to stop reading their website. I'm not expecting Arianna Huffington to read this and change the website to better suit me, either. I'm mostly just writing this to get this stuff off my chest (and because Newsvine is my first home, and it's nice to stop in and say hello once in a while. Hello!). But a part of me wants to know if anyone else has found themselves feeling the same way about the Huffington Post. Am I nuts, or are all these problems annoying enough to quit a website over?