Campaigning for Governor of California, 2003
July 15, 1950
|Subjects||Politics, spirituality, environment, liberalism|
|Spouse(s)||Michael Huffington (divorced 1997)|
Arianna Huffington (born July 15, 1950) is a Greek-American author and syndicated columnist. She is best known as co-founder of the progressive news website The Huffington Post. She is the ex-wife of former Republican congressman Mike Huffington.
Huffington was born Arianna Stassinopoulos in Athens, Greece, the daughter of Konstantinos (a journalist and management consultant) and Elli (née Georgiadi) Stassinopoulos, and is the sister of Agapi (an author, speaker and performer). To this day, she speaks with a marked Greek accent. She moved to England at the age of 16 and attended Girton College at Cambridge University where in 1971 she was President of the Cambridge Union Society, the third woman to hold the position, and graduated with a BA (later to become an MA in accordance with Cambridge's practice) in economics in 1972.
After graduation, she moved to London and lived with the journalist and broadcaster Bernard Levin, whom she had met while the two were panelists on the TV show Face the Music. In 1980 she left Levin and moved to the United States, after he refused to marry her. Both were, at around this time, disciples of the meditation teacher Osho (Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh). After Levin's death in 2004, she called him "the big love of my life, […] a mentor as a writer, and a role model as a thinker". During these years and around the time of her involvement with John-Roger's religious group, she was involved with Democratic politician and then-governor (currently Attorney General) of California, Jerry Brown. It was during this time that Huffington was first known as a liberal Democrat.
She met oil millionaire Michael Huffington, a family friend of the Bushes, at a 1985 party hosted by Ann Getty in San Francisco. The couple was married in 1986 at a wedding paid for by Getty, who had declared that she needed to find Arianna a husband. They moved to Washington, D.C., when he was appointed to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy. They later established residency in Santa Barbara, California, in order for him to run in 1992 as a Republican for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which he won by a significant margin. He was a political conservative on most issues. Arianna campaigned for her husband, courting religious conservatives, arguing for smaller government and a reduction in welfare. In 1994 he narrowly lost the race for the U.S. Senate seat from California to incumbent Dianne Feinstein.
The couple divorced in 1997, and in 1998 Michael Huffington revealed that he was bisexual. The financial terms of their divorce agreement remain undisclosed. Arianna Huffington chose to retain her former husband's surname, although she had been known as Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington during the period of her marriage.
In the late 1980s, Huffington wrote several articles for National Review. In 1981, she wrote a biography of Maria Callas, Maria Callas — The Woman Behind the Legend, and in 1989 a biography of Pablo Picasso, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer.
Huffington rose to national prominence during her husband's unsuccessful Senate bid in 1994. Although a lifelong liberal, she became known as a reliable supporter of some conservative causes such as Newt Gingrich's "Republican Revolution" and Bob Dole's 1996 candidacy for president. She teamed up with liberal comedian Al Franken as the conservative half of "Strange Bedfellows" during Comedy Central's coverage of the 1996 U.S. presidential election. For her work, she and the writing team of Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher were nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program. She has also made a few forays into acting with roles on shows such as Roseanne, The L Word, Help Me Help You, and the film EdTV.
Huffington's politics began to shift back toward the left in the late 1990s. During the Yugoslav Wars, Huffington opposed United States intervention in the crisis. In 2000, she instigated the 'Shadow Conventions', which appeared at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia and the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.
Huffington heads The Detroit Project, a public interest group lobbying automakers to start producing cars running on alternative fuels. The project's 2003 TV ads, which equated driving sport utility vehicles to funding terrorism, proved to be particularly controversial, with some stations refusing to run them.
In a 2004 appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart she announced her endorsement of John Kerry by saying, "When your house is burning down, you don't worry about the remodeling." In recent years, she has been closely associated with the Democratic Party. Huffington was a panel speaker during the 2005 California Democratic Party State Convention, held in Los Angeles. She also spoke at the 2004 College Democrats of America Convention in Boston, which was held in conjunction with the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
Huffington was an independent candidate to recall California governor Gray Davis in the 2003 recall election. She described her candidacy against front-runner Arnold Schwarzenegger as "the hybrid versus the Hummer," making reference to her ownership of a hybrid vehicle, the Toyota Prius, and Schwarzenegger's Hummer. The two would proceed to have a high-profile clash during the election's debate, during which both candidates were rebuked for making personal attacks.
Despite briefly retaining former U.S. Senator Dean Barkley as a campaign advisor and advertising executive Bill Hillsman as her media director, she dropped out of the race on September 30, 2003. "I'm pulling out, and I'm going to concentrate every ounce of time and energy over the next week working to defeat the recall because I realize now that's the only way to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger," she said. Others attributed her exit to her inability to garner support for her candidacy, noting that polls showed that only about two percent of likely California voters planned to vote for her at the time of her withdrawal. Though she failed to stop the recall, Huffington's name remained on the ballot and she placed 5th, capturing 0.55% of the vote.
In the 1970s, on the strength of her prominence in the Cambridge Union, Arianna Stassinopoulos was a frequent panelist on the weekly BBC Radio 4 political discussion programme, Any Questions?, and the BBC television panel games Call My Bluff and Face the Music.
Huffington's book The Fourth Instinct is based on the idea that all humans have an inherent spiritual yearning.
Huffington is co-host of the nationally syndicated public radio program Left, Right & Center. In May 2007, she and Mark J. Green began co-hosting a new radio show on Air America Radio, 7 Days in America.
Huffington also has an Internet presence with her website The Huffington Post, which features blogs and commentary from her and from a number of prominent liberal journalists, public officials, and celebrities. The site also highlights news stories from various sources.
Prior to The Huffington Post, Huffington hosted a website called Ariannaonline.com. Her first foray into the Internet was a website called Resignation.com, which called for the resignation of President Bill Clinton and was a rallying place for conservatives opposing Clinton.
In November 2008, Fox announced that Huffington would be joining the voice cast of the upcoming Seth MacFarlane animated series The Cleveland Show, where she lends her voice to the wife of Tim the Bear, also named Arianna.
On November 17, 2008, Huffington substituted for Rachel Maddow on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. The online website TV Newser has put forward the idea that she is in the running for a more permanent role as commentator or anchor at MSNBC.
In February 2010, Huffington had a dispute with Fox News television host, Glenn Beck. While Beck said, "they're taking you to a place to be slaughtered," he was making a reference regarding the American economy; not the American people literally being slaughtered. Huffington had an interview with Roger Ailes, and she then made the comment, responding to Becks remark, "no he was talking about the administration." Mr. Ailes responded by stating, "Well, he was talking about Hitler and Stalin slaughtering people."