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Tasini Files Class-Action Suit Against Huffington Post On Behalf Of Unpaid Bloggers – OpEd

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All I can say to Jonathan Tasini is kol ha-kavod (hat’s off to you).  Finally, someone is sticking a pin into that inflatable ego known as the Huffington Post.  It seems that when AOL bought Huffington Post a few months ago, a conservative valuation of the contribution made by the HuffPo’s 9,000 unpaid bloggers put their worth at $105-million.  Guess who collected that?  The bloggers?  Guess again.  Why Arianna of course, and her fellow investors.

Finally, Jonathan Tasini is doing something about it by filing a class action suit against Ariana for the hundreds of millions she’s made on the backs of these unpaid freelance contributors who are treated so miserably (unless they’re considered media stars by the management).  Tasini has the temerity to demand that Arianna share $105-million of the $310 million she made from the sale, with the guys what brung her to the dance, those bloggers.  Without them, HuffPo would be an also-ran.  Here’s what Tasini had to say about Ariana:

“Ms. Huffington is acting like every Robber Baron CEO – from Lloyd Blankfein to the Waltons – who believes that they, and only they, should pocket huge riches, while the rest of the peons struggle to survive.”

Here’s some of the nonsense HuffPo had to say in its own defense:

Mario Ruiz, a spokesman for the web site, called Tasini’s allegations “completely baseless.”

“Our bloggers utilize our platform to connect and ensure that their ideas and views are seen by as many people as possible,” Ruiz said. “It’s the same reason hundreds of people go on TV shows to broadcast their views to as wide an audience as possible.”

Huffington called the lawsuit “a pile of bile.”

“It seems that AOL’s purchase of HuffPost suddenly opened [Tasini’s] eyes to the fact that we are a business,” Huffington wrote in a response to the suit. “The vast majority of our bloggers are thrilled to contribute – and we’re thrilled to have them.”

Of course Ariana is thrilled to have worker bees who slave away in the hive making honey for her.  She loves those bees collectively.  But individually?  She couldn’t give a crap. One of the good jokes she tells to make the worker bees happy is that she pays them with exposure.  Yeah right.  When you publish at HuffPo and it’s buried somewhere behind the latest Hollywood sex scandal, it offers tons of exposure.

Just to offer a personal anecdote.  I worked my butt off asking blogging friends to help me get accepted there.  When it finally happened I was so proud of the achievement.  I wrote about 25 posts for HuffPo.  Then I noticed that posts weren’t being published.  The only two that weren’t, each dealt with rather embarrassing stories about the IDF, including one originally reported by Uri Blau in Haaretz concerning the IDF Cast Lead veterans’ t-shirts.  Another dealt with a girl the IDF was refusing to provide care for after one of its missiles completely disabled her.  No HuffPo editor would answer any questions about the posts.  All of which led me to stop writing for the website.

Since then, I’ve heard about Ariana’s all expense paid junkets to Israel on Aipac’s dime, about her glowing posts about the wonders of Israel.  We know in whose pocket she is.  I guess it’s small wonder those posts of mine were never published.  Thrilled to have me, Ariana?  I think not.  You treat people like crap and they’re going to turn around and bite you for it, Ariana.  Now pay up.  And someone tell me where I can sign up.  I want to be a member of this class.

This article first appeared at Tikun Olam

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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