A late Sunday night in winter and the surprise announcement of a big merger, with Kara Swisher one of the key people breaking the news: No wonder the Huffington Post/AOL announcement last night gave veteran tech and media-biz reporters a flashback to 2000 and the colossally ill-fated AOL/Time-Warner deal.
The events are similar in another way: despite all the CEO happy-talk about synergy, we are once again watching two companies in trouble taking a big gamble that the other will solve its problems.
People think of Huffington Post as the leading popular liberal-Democratic news site. Huffington is now at least suggesting that the progressive point of view isn’t a part of what she’ll be pursuing at AOL. “Ms. Huffington said her politics would have no bearing on how she ran the new business,” says the NY Times story.
This strikes me as strange, disingenuous, and about as credible as Roger Ailes claiming that Fox is not a partisan-driven institution.
One possibility is, Huffington is just saying what the corporate script requires and actually the plan is to position AOL as a sort of Democratic alternative to Fox News/Drudge — which I think would be a really interesting move. I have to assume Arianna has big TV ambitions; I have yet to meet a new-media empire builder who didn’t secretly yearn to do an Ailes (or an Oprah).
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Scott Rosenberg is a writer, editor and website builder. These days he's working on MediaBugs.org. He wrote 'Say Everything and Dreaming in Code.. I was co-founder and managing editor of Salon.