The Washington Post

Arianna Huffington’s exalted view of commenters

In an interview with Huffington Poster Arianna Huffington, Henry Blodget, the top editor at Business Insider, asks about HuffPo’s brilliance in starting conversations on its site. When HuffPo posts a politics article, notes Blodget, “30 seconds later there are 4,500 comments. Why does anyone want to be commenter No. 4,500?”

Huffington responds this way:

We need to understand that something has changed in the zeitgeist, which is that self-expression has become the new entertainment and a new source of fulfillment.

Determined to fact-check Huffington’s high-minded sociology---she did say that commenters want to have fun, too---I went to the top of the HuffPost politics section to check out the new zeitgeist. At the top of the page was a story about Mitt Romney attempting to smooth things over with party leaders. The piece was trending toward 700 comments.

A sampling of those comments: not insult the Elephants. They have excellent memories and they NEVER LIE! And they love peanuts too! Mitt Romney never has known what having “peanuts” is in life!


I like to fire people, My Friends! I like to fire people while eating grits. I espacially like to fire people who make those mighty tasty 7-11 cookies that the common folk favor!

Not to mention:

...and if you contribute at least a MILLION$$$ to my campaign...Ann will let you brush her many dressage horses for 30 minutes...or drive one of her Caddys around the block!

“Self-expression?” No question about it.

“Source of fulfillment?” Okay, I suppose.

But let’s tell the whole story here, with a new category of commenting motivator: “Fulfilling self-expression of partisan bile.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.

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