Huffington Post Defends Advocacy In News Stories

REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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In recent political coverage, The Huffington Post has included petitions in their articles. The site’s Washington bureau chief told The Daily Caller Monday this isn’t activism, but advocacy that the site is not ashamed of.

In some stories about reported Russian interference in the presidential election, the news site has given readers the option to sign a petition in support of a congressional investigation into Russia’s involvement. The petition for an investigation has a little more than 11,200 signatures, and the one calling for Congress to move on has just over 180 signatures.

And in many stories pertaining to the Electoral College, readers have gotten the option to sign a petition supporting the abolition of the Electoral College. There is no option to sign a petition that supports keeping the current election system. Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post’s Washington bureau chief, has inserted a link for this petition in many of his articles, including the middle of one story.

Grim told TheDC that The Huffington Post is not sponsoring the petition and that they don’t have an official editorial position on the Electoral College. When asked if promoting a petition for people to sign is the definition of activism, Grim said, “I don’t think those links count as activism by HuffPo. I’m not opposed in general to HuffPost advocating for a particular position, and when we do, there’s no ambiguity.”

The Huffington Post was rather outspoken during the election. They placed Donald Trump in their entertainment news section towards the beginning and then later added an editor’s note to Trump-related articles that said he was a “serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther.”

TheDC asked two D.C. journalists about Grim’s link to the petition. One media reporter said, “Go through the author’s Twitter history, it’s embarrassing how often he predicted loudly and proudly that Trump would be the biggest loser in election history. Guess when you get the story so wrong, you have to put in extra effort to make it correct.”

And a political journalist said The Huffington Post should have trouble getting press passes because of the petitions. “How can Huffington Post complain about not being credentialed for Trump events when they are engaging in liberal activism against him? Are we really supposed to pretend they are a serious journalistic outfit like the Associated Press? Would the Obama administration credential RedState for an Obama press conference?” the D.C. political reporter said.

During the presidential primary, Trump had denied The Huffington Post press credentials due to them placing coverage of him in their entertainment section. Grim though seemed to have no worries Monday.

“We’re straightforward about what our values are, and our reporting has never suffered from lack of access. We live or die based on the strength of our journalism, is my take on it. We’re always looking for new ways to allow readers to engage with our stories in meaningful ways,” The Huffington Post Washington bureau chief said.