**UPDATED**
Bumped from Friday night (2.11 – 6:30 pm).

But — and here comes a major but — ditching the bogus left-right frame is not about moving reflexively to the center. It is rather a rejection of the very concept that left, right and center are a good way to map the crucial debates of the day.Peter Goodman

Howard Fineman was the tell, but damn this was quick.

Arianna calls it her “last act.” The AOL buy makes her the Oprah of new media. Good for her. It’s nice to see a woman cashing in for a change.

HuffPost readers called it something else. From the Daily Beast:

So how did these users, collectively, feel about the deal? Pretty lousy, it turns out. The Daily Beast took the temperature of The Huffington Post community by wading through those comments, and randomly selecting 500 that expressed a clear opinion for or against the sale, taking care to avoid counting repeat commenters and also pulling data from all times of the day. From this large sample, a whopping 81 percent (405) opposed the acquisition in terms that ranged from confused to pessimistic to, most frequently, downright livid. Only 19 percent (95) were optimistic, though many of those were far closer to neutral.

Dana Milbank asked a couple of days ago: Did Arianna just sell out her fellow progressives?

Considering I never believed Ms. Huffington was a progressive, obviously I didn’t think so, but there are those who think she did. Talking about the middle class collapse and Wall Street robbers while not paying blogger reporters on the beat, of which I am not one, isn’t exactly progressive. What Arianna is above all things is a business woman who saw a trend and tapped the people to help her ride it. She was a Newt Gingrich booster back in the ’90s when he was cool, and wanted Bill Clinton to resign when the Right was coming for his head, and when Obama strode on the scene as the cool cat, with Hillary running against him, she did her best to bring her down.

Now people think centrism and “no labels” are in, so that’s the next rainbow to harness, according to the AOL culture, which is about as hip as “no labels.”

I actually hadn’t much interest in weighing in on the whole thing, but then Peter Goodman posted and the bait was simply too good to resist, because what he was writing was completely different to what Huffington Post had always been about. Just look at the cover of her book on blogging. A bunch of leftys helped her sell it.

You can change the road you’ve been traveling, just don’t try to sell people you aren’t, especially when they’ve been on the journey with you from the start.

The Huffington Post being acquired by AOL brought into the light the unpaid contributor role dozens of us have played over the years, myself included. The Huffington Post has been around for 6 years and I’ve been writing over there for 5. Lately things have begun to change. Their editing and posting procedures for guest contributors like myself has entered into the haphazard, leaning into complete disarray, showing disrespect of the contributor’s time and energy. There is no rhythm or timing about posts, they have to be reminded that one has been submitted, they post forgotten entries on same days as new posts arrive. They’re obviously overwhelmed, but also have slid into amateurism on the editorial side where guest contributors are concerned. It’s become a pain in the ass to post over there anymore and since you never know when your contribution is going up or if it will, all interaction with readers is cut off. That’s no good if you like talking to HuffPost readers, which I do, though I’m a minority. But back when it was good it was terrific.

It’s Ms. Huffington’s choice whom she pays and does not, with unpaid contributors having a choice to post or not. There isn’t one writer who didn’t know the drill when they signed on and as far as I am concerned I got more than some $100 fee out of writing over there, even if I did it only sporadically, because I simply didn’t have the time. That I’ve been ahead of every political curve since Obama and Sarah Palin and the Tea Party came on the scene on every editorial I’ve written speaks for itself.

The Huffington Post regularly featured my columns and promoted them, many times to the frontpage, but always on their politics page; especially liking my writings on Sarah Palin, but also Nancy Pelosi when she sold women out on health care, and on Afghanistan after McChrystal’s implosion, when I pulled my support for what was happening, because the general’s career ending rant exposed more than a bad policy. I have no complaints, because what I wrote got seen, because what I wrote brought eyes to the page, even if something other than politics is driving the traffic. I started on the web in ’96, so I know how this works. When I called HuffPost out for their embarrassing headline after Pres. Clinton came back from North Korea, they let it stand, though they didn’t feature it. It went viral anyway. And when I criticized “The Sopranos” ending, David Chase was so pissed off he sent me a letter, which I framed, and the entire series to me via Federal Express, becoming the classiest f-you I’ve ever received.

However, since the AOL buy, people at Huffington Post are now feeling very defensive and compelled to outline HuffPost’s mission of all things. Maybe it’s just me, but when HuffPost employees start explaining their purpose it makes me want to grab the popcorn, because the insecurity that inspires such nonsense to break out into the open usually means trouble is already brewing.

I hope not, but this stuff is strictly amateur hour, unless you’re fundamentally changing direction.

It was on display in the defensive posting of Jason Linkins first, and now Peter Goodman. Linkins rambles on justifying why he gets paid. He felt compelled to defend the “internet newspaper” from harsh criticism coming in and feels he must explain how he earns his salary to readers. It’s unseemly, but he evidently has some guilt, either that or the incoming is starting to sting.

After the AOL deal landed, the LA Times ripped the Huffington Post journalistic model the day before Linkins weighed in, which obviously hit a nerve.

To grasp the Huffington Post’s business model, picture a galley rowed by slaves and commanded by pirates.

Then Peter Goodman wrote this insulting drivel: Beyond Left And Right: It’s About Reality, which just screamed for a response from someone who’d been there all along. The entire overwrought egotism in Goodman’s post really is worth a read, but only if you don hip boots to guard yourself against the hubris. Get a load of this:

For far too long, the public has suffered under the tyranny of dueling narratives served up by one or another interest group seeking self-serving shortcuts around nuanced truths, all the while shortchanging the clarity of important debates about the biggest issues of the day — from health care reform to defense policy to education.

The tyranny of dueling narratives? The public is suffering from this?

This is so un-HuffPost like it makes you want to flee, close your browser and run outside. But Mr. Goodman isn’t finished:

Journalists have too often perpetuated the false notion that seemingly any issue can be cleanly divided into right and left, conservative and liberal, because these labels make our work simpler, supplying us with a handy structure we can impose at will on typically uncooperative facts.

Journalists so frequently deal in the false liberal-conservative dichotomy because it generates the sort of tension that feeds narrative, and narrative makes for more accessible stories. Simply dividing up the interests into two neatly-differentiated competing camps enables lazy beat reporters to claim to have painted all of reality with but two phone calls. Why venture outside and talk to ordinary people — whose experiences and views almost always challenge the traditional labels — when we can simply sit at our desks and dial up a D and then an R and gather a pair of quotes that supposedly cover the whole spectrum of the American take on anything?

Sucking up to “ordinary people,” aka mom and pop, how charming. Where am I and who stole my Huffington Post?

To hear Peter Goodman making the case that HuffPost now doesn’t have anything to do with Right or Left is rewriting the experience of readers and writers after 6 years. It’s just the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of doing. Now HuffPost is not Left or Right, because that’s just so yesterday, but instead is working for some truth believed to lie beyond. As if Left and Right doesn’t belong in that frame too, while Goodman draws a “no labels” type line down the center in order to put Huffington Post’s mission on a pedestal. I know he hails from the New York Times and is well respected, but no one is buying this, except the AOL audience. Good luck with that.

This is all smoke, mirrors and mostly hubris.

Huffington Post is more about the money now than ever. So what? Good for Arianna Huffington and everyone on board. Just don’t try to switch me to water when the wine I was drinking before had legs and great taste.

When Swisher pointed out that she was known for a left political orientation, she said, “People have not really moved up to see where we’ve been going in terms of our content and in terms of bringing in voices from all around the political spectrum.” Yup, that wacky, politically cosmopolitan HuffPo. It’s business, kids. — Why Did Arianna Huffington Sell HuffPo? Payoff and Paywalls

And don’t try to preen you’re not doing what everyone can see you’re doing. It’s embarrassing.

As for Mr. Goodman’s ridiculous “the public has suffered under the tyranny of dueling narratives” word salad, it proves the HowardFinemanization of the Huffington Post is already underway. You just might notice it less if you stick to Sam Stein, Ryan Grimm, Amanda Terkel’s reporting and posts, which are still as good as it gets.

UPDATE: Nate Silver wrote an odd post yesterday on Huffington Post, especially considering he came out of the DailyKos land, which helped him keep climbing the media ladder. Silver takes on the monetization meter.