Don't get me wrong, I love The Huffington Post and I adore Arianna Huffington. And not just because she has an adorable accent, or that she was able to parlay the desire of celebrities and political thought leaders to blog for free into a $315 million payday. I adore her because she gives us confidence that, when it comes to media, content still rules.
So why was Armstrong back-peddling and looking like a deer in the headlights on PBS' "NewsHour" Monday evening? Well, maybe it was because he was just asked if he agreed with Ken Auletta's assessment that AOL's acquisition of HuffPo was a "Hail Mary pass." Instead of grabbing the ball and running with it, Armstrong went back to his playbook. "We are big believers that the next phase of the Internet is about content," he read, er, said.
But if the vast resources of Time Warner couldn't drive people to use AOL, what makes Armstrong think HuffPo can? Time will tell. I mean the temporal plane, not the Time Warner magazine. Heck, who knows, maybe Armstrong will buy that too. Then the media industry can have two empresses-in-chief editing the last vestiges of America's once great news magazines: Arianna editing Time, and The Daily Beast's Tina Brown editing Newsweek. And let's hope they do a better job than the old boy's did.
Asked whether he was worried that perceptions over HuffPo's liberal bent might turn some users off from AOL, Armstrong reminded "NewsHour" that the news site's tagline is, "Beyond left or right." For Tim's and Arianna's sake, let's hope that means their direction is up, not down. Or maybe it's forwards and not backwards.