March 16, 2006

"I'm not going to be threatened by Arianna Huffington!"

Says George Clooney:
Yesterday, Clooney released an angry statement calling Huffington's methods "purposefully misleading," and she acknowledged that his so-called blog - slamming Dems who voted for the war in Iraq for fear of being labeled "liberal" - was actually compiled from Clooney's recent interviews with the UK's Guardian and CNN's Larry King.

But Huffington insisted (and forwarded me E-mails that seemed to back her up) that she believed she had explicit permission from one of Clooney's PR reps to publish his disparate quotes as a single piece of writing. "This was a misunderstanding," she told me yesterday, as the disputed blog was removed from her Web site.

Clooney told me: "Nobody has ever written an op-ed piece for me. If I say I've written something, I've written it. When I go to the Oscars, I write everything I say...I stand by what I do, but I'm very cautious not to take giant steps onto soapboxes because I think they're polarizing."

Clooney said that when he demanded a disclaimer from Huffington, she refused. "She told me that it's a big no-no in the blogosphere, where people are supposed to write their own pieces."
There's a minor and boring problem here: Who speaks for George Clooney? He has PR people, and if they agree to things on his behalf, and afterwards he decides he doesn't like it, it seems a bit unfair for him to portray the other party to the agreement as underhanded.

The interesting thing is that Clooney's willingness to embarrass Huffington over what his PR people did throws light on how The Huffington Post operates. Now, the celebrity blog part of the Huffington Post looks like just a PR outlet, a place for assorted quotes and press releases to assemble in the form of a blog. Why looking like a blog works as a way to win readers is something of a mystery, of course. But there are all sorts of blog-looking things out there trying to get your attention. Do they detract from real blogs? Do you know the difference between a real blog and a fake one?

Do you know the difference between a real book and a fake one?

UPDATE: Here is Arianna Huffington's explanation of her interaction with Clooney, along with various assertions about how The Huffington Posts generally gets blog posts from celebrities. The claim is that 99% of the bloggers (which includes a lot of journalists and other non-stars) type directly into the blog software, and only 1% email, fax, or phone in their material. Presumably, the big name celebrities are in the 1%.
Very, very rarely (in 10 months, it's fewer times than you can count on your hand), we will work with a first-time blogger the way editors do in other, traditional media -- suggesting ideas and offering direction on what makes a blog different from, say, a New York Times op-ed. Part of what we've always tried to do with HuffPost is bring to the blogosphere some of the most interesting voices of our time that are not already there. This is the first time there was no back and forth with the writer -- our sample was approved 'as is' -- which is where the misunderstanding occurred.
I read this as an open invitation to bloggers to find other HuffPo posts there that are cobbled together from various sources the way Clooney's was -- though we won't have any way to know if the star was involved in the approval process. I find it hard to believe that it only happened this way once and just by chance this was a person who would choose to make a public stink about it and embarrass Huffington.

MORE: An emailer writes:
I work for a Public Relations/Marketing firm.

The basic rule is that NOTHING goes out without the expressed approval of the client. When you write a statement for the client the person whose name appears on the statement personally reads and approves it. If you ghost an article for the client, the client reads and approves said article.

It is not uncommon for releases. etc. to go through 10 to 20 revisions before the client gives approval.

If things happened as described by Huffington, Clooney’s PR people did a very unprofessional job.
Yeah, it doesn't make any sense why he's pissed at her and not his own people.

42 comments:

yetanotherjohn said...

“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”

I can see people getting sucked in once, maybe even twice, but after that, they want to be suckered.

One of the most interesting to me was a Tim Blair post on a left wing journalist who got into a conversation with a spambot. Basically, the spambot's ability to parrot back a few words enabled his BDS fevered brain to think a rational conversation was happening. Now that's funny.

Goesh said...

Well, George always was a bit of a jackass when it came to politics, but that's just me talking here...given his expertise on foreign affairs and domestic policy and for that matter economics,law and psychology and even philosophy, I'm surprised Ms. Huff doesn't reference him more often.

Simon said...

While it's always funny to watch when children fight over petty stuff ("I didn't write this!" - "maybe, but that's what you think, isn't it?" - "yes, but that's not the point!") I don't see how this "detracts" from the HuffPo's credibility when it had none to begin with?

CB said...

If there's a picture of the author on the cover, chances are it's a "fake" book. Bonus points for the inclusion of PhD or MBA after the author's name.

AnechoicRoom said...

Who's George Clooney?

AJ Lynch said...

"Know the difference between real and fake blog?"..

I think so. I hope so. Please don't tell me Althouse is a fake blog. I was just beginning to like it here.

Pogo said...

I simply refuse to belive there's an AlthouseBot.
No. Way.

(but if so: great design!!)

The Tiger said...

What's a fake book?

Elliott said...

Of course. althouse is fake. It's a parody of the real blog altmouse.blogspot.com .

lindsey said...

"I stand by what I do, but I'm very cautious not to take giant steps onto soapboxes because I think they're polarizing."

Man, George is dumb if he think he's not yelling from a soapbox already.

Gaius Arbo said...

Do you think Huffpo's faithful will call into question all the stuff they read now? I don't. They simply will not understand (or care)that they are being lied to. Echo chambers are like that.....

Verification word: hehxv - Now 15 times more insta-laughs......

Henry said...

Did Huffington footnote the manufactured Clooney blog? I'm curious what Larry King and the Guardian think about doing Huffington's stringer work.

Ann Althouse said...

If I started a second blog under a pseudonym and made fun of myself, would that be a fake blog?

chezDiva said...

If Arianna's claims are true and she does have the evidence to prove her case then she should not remove the blog post or even add a disclaimer to it just to appease Clooney.

Having said that it is rather pathetic that the editors/publishers at the Huffinton Post couldn't even score an interview with Clooney to write the blog post that was attributed to him. They had to rely on interviews Clooney had given to other Media Sources.

pct said...

Seems to me Ann is raising at least two questions here. One is to what extent does agency theory apply to PR people. The other is what constitutes a "real" blog. Does a blog have to be typed by the author-of-record's actual fingers in order to be "real"? What if (hypothetically) Althouse was actually being typed into blogger by some suckup law student based on dictation by Ann? Or based on general ideas/direction by Ann. At what point does it cease being "real"? It's a good bet Samuel Pepys' blog was real, but it is hard to tell about anything else.

sonicfrog said...

How does one go about getting PR people. I want some. They're very useful to have around so when things go wrong you can always blame them for the mistakes (google Streisand). Meanwhile, I was googling almost aimlessly and came across this fun lawsuit. Enjoy.

Jacques Cuze said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scott W. Somerville said...

You rock, Doc! You define the new standard in blog envy: having a fake blog named after you!

Simon said...

AnechoicRoom said...
"Who's George Clooney? "

Some actor. I think he was in the Ocean's 11 remake.


pct said...
"Does a blog have to be typed by the author-of-record's actual fingers in order to be 'real'?"

I would think so. I mean Mike Pence (R-Ind.) has a "blog," but all it is comprised of is a series of press releases. That isn't a blog, to my mind, it's simply using a blog platform to manage your press releases. But on the other hand, we think of a Judge's opinion as being their work, even if, in most cases, it is primarily the work of a law clerk trying to sound like the Judge, edited by the "author." As a rule, I think blogs are unlike other media; they aren't books, they aren't Opinions, they aren't even newspaper columns; they're supposed to be a personal outlet, so I would say that they either have to be written by, or at least substantially edited, by an individual.

I'm being careful here, because I don't want to exclude something like ACSblog, which you get the feeling is written by several people point "in one voice" as it were, and I think that's okay. I don't think it's against the rules to have a group blog where all members post under the same pen name.

Ann Althouse said...

I think there's a core of clearly real blogs, and there are fake blogs that are just advertising or PR formatted into the shape of a blog. There are a lot of things in the middle. How tightly or loosely you draw the line between real and fake is a matter of taste and attitude. If it makes sense to you to say some blogs are "bloggier" than others, you might want to draw a tighter circle.

Denny Flood said...

I dunno. In what sense is Ariana Huffington not a flack? In a general kinda way? For people of the Geo. Clooney ilk?

Potter said...

Lindsey beat me to the chase. "...but I'm very cautious not to take giant steps onto soapboxes because I think they're polarizing."

Hasn't he been using his celebrity status as a soapbox for years now? I guess he hasn't been cautious enough.

Elizabeth said...

Goesh, you sent me in a timewarp! I kept seeing "Reagan" instead of "Clooney"! Thanks for the memories.

A fake book? Isn't that what musicians use to get through requests at gigs?

Jacques Cuze said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SteveR said...

"Do you know the difference between a real book and a fake one?"

When I saw the post was about Clooney and I saw that line I thought it said *boob* and I had to consider whether the question was figurative or literal?

Johnny Nucleo said...

Arianna Huffington is kooky, but I like her. She is also Greek. I like the Greeks because they break stuff when they party, and they invented philosophy and lesbianism. Arianna Huffington is not a lesbian, though her ex-husband is gay, which the Greeks also invented. George Clooney is neither Greek nor a lesbian, so I don't like him.

Johnny Nucleo said...

DATELINE: TIJUANA, MEXICO

STATEMENT FROM ALTHOUSEFAN

I did not write the previous post. The post was compiled by others from interviews I gave to The Guardian and High Times Magazine. I am outraged.

bearbee said...

**"I feel abused," he said.**

Gee,*snicker* he outta run for prez then he can be assured of being abused.......

CB said...

Anechoic Room:
George Clooney is the guy who played Booker Brooks on Rosanne. I think later on he did a guest voice as Sparky the dog on South Park.

Pogo said...

The neat thing about having quxxo's posts deleted is that I can write a response and invent any quote I want , and it will look like quxxo wrote it.

The problem is, I can never come up with anything quite as self-damning as quxxo does, so, like, all the fun's gone out of it already.

Carolyn said...

I don't understand why Clooney is making such a big fuss. His blog post was fake but accurate.

bearbee said...

Clooneygate... or is it Huffingate......

Chris O'Brien said...

George lost any credibility with me when he made fun of Charlton Heston's Alzheimers, and when given a chance to apologize or retract it reitereated based on Heston's NRA work.

I have no dog in the gun control fight, but wow...that showed a lot of class. If you have ever loved anyone afflicted with the disease, he should repel you, whether or not he is Greek or a Lesbian.

Maxine Weiss said...

I hate George Clooney, although if I were a single diner in a restaurant and he came to my table, I wouldn't refuse him.

Ahem. But anyway, Huffington misled readers by not telling 'em that the content was old material culled from previous sources. She's leading the public to believe that everything on her site, at least the blog part of it, is freshly written new material.

Maybe, we've come so far, that it doesn't matter anymore whether old material/new material, or who's doing the writing, even. column. "Dear Abby" isn't written by dear Abby etc...

Ann, owns her name and likeness. She owns the site. Yet, for all we know, she's got robots channeling the words. These days, there's software that, you choose a word/topic, and the software spits out whole articles. Robots do the writing.

I just finished reading Joan Didion's "Where I was From" (2003). That whole book is nothing but a series of quotes.....from her previous books, which ----much of it----consisting of quotes from other sources !

If the great Joan Didion can cut and paste her way into creating new material.......why can't anybody else?

I wish I knew IP and copyright law.

Peace, Maxine

Henry said...

If the great Joan Didion can cut and paste her way into creating new material.......why can't anybody else?

It worked for T.S. Eliot (the Wasteland). The poetic term is Cento.

Simon said...

MaxineWeiss said...
"I hate George Clooney, although if I were a single diner in a restaurant and he came to my table, I wouldn't refuse him. Ahem."

I think it's generally considered okay to be attracted on some level to people whose political views you think are absolutely reprehensible. If Kozinski and Reinhardt can be buddies, I can say that Hillary's a good lookin' woman, and you can say the same about Clooney. Ted Kennedy will never admit it, but he has a poster of Laura Ingraham on his office wall. ;)

Gahrie said...

I can say that Hillary's a good lookin' woman,

OK, somebody cut Simon off, he's clearly had too much.

37383938393839383938383 said...

Clooney is realizing that being tagged as a liberal will hurt him as a commodity, so he is triangulating with Huffington by criticizing her and her crazy liberal blog, making himself seem less liberal than one would ordinarily suppose (i.e., damage control) while also garnering publicity over the brouhaha to milk his recent Oscar win. His PR people aren't bad or stupid and he will not fire them; they probably arranged for this whole event. Thanks for being sucked in, suckers.

AnechoicRoom said...

Of rabbit holes, looking glasses, and Mr. Hollis P. Wood ..... Arianna is a master of politic and substance less existence. A more transparent organism does not exist (as much as I adore Cloon the loon). Support liberal blogs, it keeps Peter Pans, hippies, and assorted ne'er-do-wells off the streets.

Jeff Ircink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Ircink said...

...and...and if you're ever at a party or other function with Ms. Huffington, be wary of what you say to her. I understand she has a penchant for quoting people in her books that don't know they're being "quoted".

Jeff Ircink said...

Ms. Huffington is nowhere near the top of my list of credible people; thus, anything concerned with her blog or television and radio appearances is up for contention, in my book. I met her at a party - said next to nothing to her but observed her - and she did nothing to impress me. She was actually very aloof and I vowed I would never be in the same room with her. I even turn off NPR on Friday afternoons when the roundtable discussion is featured because I can't stand listening to her.

I don't know Huffington from Adam, but something about her bugs the shit out of me. I enjoy George Clooney and I'll side with just about anything he says or does.