“It doesn’t matter if you wear glasses or you forget to wash your hair, or you have Nutella stuck in your teeth, European men will think you’re sexy. You know how it smells, Seth, when you walk into a room where people just did sex? Yeah, that’s what it smells like when you get off the plane in Europe.”—“Arianna Huffington” (played by Nasim Pedrad) to Seth Meyers, on the “Weekend Update” segment, Saturday Night Live, Season 38, Episode 12, January 26, 2013, directed by Don Roy King
Today is the 65th birthday of the real-life Arianna Huffington, whom former journalist Sidney Blumenthal once called “the most upwardly mobile Greek since Icarus.” Nasim Pedrad’s impression only seems over the top if you haven’t seen the real Ms. Huffington, in all her glory, on a TV show, such as her appearances on Bill Maher's talk show.
Before her current incarnation, as the entrepreneur who founded the liberal blog “The Huffington Post” 10 years ago, this chameleon had been a biographer of Maria Callas and Pablo Picasso, a GOP political wife, a cable TV guest, a failed gubernatorial candidate in her own right, an environmentalist, and a blogger.
It was as an outgrowth of that last role that Ms. Huffington came into her current position as an Internet mogul. That success is, like the lady herself, outrageous, paradoxical and confounding.
Give her credit—she has never stiffed others after assuring them that they would be paid in good time, as a certain hair-challenged GOP candidate did in his not-so-distant past as a businessman “surviving at the top” by keeping creditors barely at bay. No, she has been open about the tradeoff with countless bloggers: they would receive much-desired exposure, as long as they did it for free.
Something must be wrong with Google’s algorithm: When you search “Huffington Post” and “wage slavery,” you come up with all kinds of articles written for the "Post" itself about underpaid workers, but never about its own compensation practices concerning the thousands of scribes whose work has turbocharged the site that made Ms. Huffington very rich lady. (See this New York Magazine article from a few years ago that looked at the issue in dry-eyed but unblinking fashion.)
It’s hard to think that Ms. Huffington has been in her current role for a decade now. Considering her history, it’s surprising that she hasn’t morphed into another identity yet. Whatever she chooses to be, the only constant in her life will be that she’ll remain just as charming as she is crafty.