It’s not easy getting Andrew Breitbart to say a mean thing about Arianna Huffington.
The notorious attack dog and conservative media mogul actually has nothing but nice things to say about Huffington, the Greek-born liberal icon who scored a plum deal this week from the folks at AOL, who paid $315 million for her website, the Huffington Post.
“I’m blissful that the Huffington Post exists,” Breitbart told The Daily Caller as he settled into a Washington, D.C. hotel for this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
For a guy who in one tweet called an employee from the liberal group Media Matters for America an “underage sex-trafficking apologist” and in another a “[hate] crime fetishist,” that’s really saying something.
Breitbart has reason to be nice — he used the money he earned while helping launch the Huffington Post six years ago to start his own media company. The cash he made from the Huffington Post provided the seed money for Breitbart.com, and later the proliferation of “Big” sites that have made Breitbart a simultaneously infamous and famous household name among political observers. But without Huffington, that may never have been possible, and Breitbart says he’s more than grateful.
“She and I have one of the great air kiss relationships that America has ever known,” Breitbart said during a recent radio interview. “I’m glad that she did well for herself.”
Despite his role in the early days of the site, Breitbart netted the same financial payday most of HuffPo’s bloggers nabbed from the deal: ($0). He said he didn’t get early stock options, but is more content using the dough he made when he cashed out years ago to launch his own media operation.
“I don’t have any hard feelings to say the least. I’m happy for their success,” Breitbart said. “I’d have to have a twisted psychology to be upset about that scenario.”
News of the HuffPo-AOL merger unleashed a wave of speculation about whether Huffington, who has established herself since as a leader among liberals, would be able to adapt to the more conservative AOL clientele as the new director of the company’s news content. Breitbart speculated that she has been constrained by the left-wing bent of the HuffPo community and that the new venture would free her from that.
“My personal take on it is at a certain point — and this is conjecture — that Arianna started to feel constrained by a political straight jacket of her commentators, of her community, and of the hard left,” he told The DC.
In the radio interview, he said, “I think this takes the straight jacket off of her and now she can work with AOL and try to work with as many people as possible.”
In both interviews, he also gave a warning to anyone who thinks Huffington wouldn’t be able to pull off the transition.
“I disagree with everything that has come out of Arianna’s mouth since about the year 2000,” Breitbart said during the radio interview. “But this is what you need to know about her: People that underestimate her, underestimate her intelligence, lose every time.”
“She has a skill set that transcends ideology,” he told TheDC. “I think she will apply that skill set well at AOL.”