I‘ve been a Huffington Post reader from the beginning. In fact, I’ve read the it for so long that I remember when it was just news. Before the videos of the Carol Singing Puppy Dogs and the Must-Try Bacon Recipes That Your Guests Are Oinking For! When I used to write for NPR, the Huffington Post was my go-to news resource. Sure it has a liberal bias, but so do I, and as news aggregators go, it was the best out there. They covered big stories, small stories, and threw in a little quirk and commentary just to keep things fun. Basically, it was Drudge Report for Democrats, but without all the spinning sirens and nonsense, and I loved it. And then… they decided to expand.
Look, I get it. It’s hard to build a site on hard news alone. You gotta sell ads, and that requires readers from all different incomes and age brackets. So you mix in a little pop culture with your filibuster reform, a touch of Real Housewife with your reports from inside the Romney campaign. But when you see the two things coupled on the same home page, well, it’s hard not to crack a smile. Why just this week, right next to their coverage of the looming fiscal cliff crisis and Corey Booker’s possible run for Governor, the Huffington Post blasted the lid off these enormous international stories.
That’s right. Miley Cyrus wore a top that her boobs were SPILLING out of. Like…breast, just splashing all over the place! Then, on a more somber note…
That’s right, the pet of a woman who’s famous for having sex on camera died. In case you were wondering why the flags at your local Forever 21 were flying at half mast.
Look, I write for Thought Catalog. I’m not a hard news snob. I love a pulpy narrative as much as the next guy. And anyone who thinks I turn my nose up at preposterous feline coverage should check my archives. If my cat died, you poor bastards would never hear the end of it. But TC is not the Huffington Post. The mission here is not to break stories and call out the insincerity of our opponents. I understand why HuffPo does it, but sometimes the juxtaposition of their excellent news coverage with their effort to capture, let’s say, the lighter side of things, gets ridiculous. It’s not something you see from similar outlets. I mean, I don’t remember 60 Minutes ever doing an no-holds-barred expose on side boob. (But if they did, I hope beyond hope that it was Lesley Stahl’s).
So over the last year, I started to take notes. Every time I checked the Huffington Post, and it’s several times a day, I’d make a note of any nonsense I encountered. Only on the homepage, usually in the lower right bar, just to see how far my favorite news source would go. A lot of the headlines that grabbed me were simply “DIVORCED” or “ENGAGED” or “OVER!!!,” and then a picture of a couple that was supposed to be self-explanatory, but always left me asking, “Who the hell are those people?” Then I could click the article, read their names, and say once again “Who the hell are those people?” But those stories didn’t crack the Top 5. Not even close. So here now, are The 5 Most Ridiculous Huffington Post Stories of 2012:
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the article. And I laughed several times. But this is not news. This is not even culture. It’s just an excuse to get hits out of a picture of a cat wearing headphones. And yes, I ordered three pairs.
The premise of this story is “one time Gwyneth Paltrow wore a black bra, and you could kind of see it.” How this scoop didn’t land on the cover of the New York Times, I have no idea. Hell, sometimes I wear a black bra and you can sometimes see it. Anyone want pictures of that?
I can just hear the newsies running down the street now: “Extra, Extra! Read All About It! Sometimes Jars are Hard To Open! Try Running Them Under Hot Water! Extra Extra!” I was hoping this would be the beginning of an expose on cliches people learn from their grandmother, but no such luck. My favorite thing about this piece: one of the tips is “Whack the jar with a knife,” then a link to a video of someone whacking a jar with a knife. Heady stuff.
The biggest stories of our time: 1) Pearl Harbor 2) The sinking of the Titanic 3) People put ketchup on hot dogs. On the homepage, Huffington Post? Really? Let’s make a deal: we handle Congress on the front page, and condiments on the food page. Sound good?
And the #1 most ridiculous, preposterous, and altogether inappropriate Huffington Post story of the year is…
First of all, no, anal tattoos are not the next big thing. You know how I know? Because they’re anal tattoos. That’s ridiculous. I also know because I’d never heard of them until HuffPo so bravely brought the story to my attention. And included a video of a woman who was obviously drunk, screaming about how good it felt when someone tattooed the hole in her butt. And yes, she shows you the only slightly censored tattoo, and she’s topless during the interview. I don’t even know what section this is supposed to be in. Butt stuff? Does HuffPo have a Butt Stuff page? Can kids click on this? I’m in my 30s, and I think I’m too young for it. I just love the idea of Arianna Huffington waking up one morning, checking her site, then screaming at the top of her lungs, “Who put ze azz tattoos on my homepage?!?!” Or maybe that’s what she wanted. Hey, I’m sure it got plenty of hits.
So thanks for the memories, Huffington Post. It’s been a great year. Can’t wait to see what you have for us in 2013.