The Huffington Post just hired another VIP's child, this one the son of White House senior adviser David Axelrod. Funny how a website famous for not paying bloggers finds room on the payroll for an undistinguished corps of rich kids.
Arianna Huffington crowed after the 2008 presidential election that her website is "more participatory" than publications that practice journalism "the old way." But she's a favor-trading traditionalist when it comes to distributing money: Even the best contributing bloggers are unpaid, while paying gigs tend to go to VIPs.
Which isn't to say the well born are necessarily unqualified for their jobs: HuffPo is notoriously hard to work for, with famously high turnover; couple this with the site's national expansion and it's easy to see why HuffPo is hungry for young talent. But aren't there, like, some laid off journalists out there, with actual experience?
Here are some of the well-connected VIP spawn Arianna's taken on:
Ethan Axelrod is the son of Barack Obama's longtime adviser David Axelrod. The 22-year-old has written and edited for his student newspaper at Colorado College, according to the Washington Post, and apparently has no other professional journalism experience. He will edit HuffPo's Denver edition.
"He's a very nice, unassuming guy," one staffer told Mediaite. "He's smart, obviously – he comes from good stock."
Funny that the Post's Howard Kurtz didn't mention his newspaper's own family connection to the HuffPo (see next).
Nicholas Graham is part of the same Graham family that owns the Washington Post. Formerly an Associate News Editor at HuffPo, Graham appears to have recently become Associate Video Editor. One insider tells us his predecessor, Patrick Waldo, was well liked inside of the company but was recently pushed out. (Pic via NCAA YouTube)
It's hard to begrudge Elyssa Spitzer her HuffPo internship for at least two reasons. One, as the daughter of disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, she's been through a lot of family trauma in the past year and a half. Two, we're not even sure if her internship is paid. (Pic via Cityfile)
In 2007 and 2008, Liz Hanks worked as Associate Living Editor at HuffPo. We've heard actor Tom Hanks' daughter had two other jobs, as a news and blog editor, and that Arianna Huffington eagerly publicized her name and presence after she joined the staff (to a degree some on staff found unseemly).
We imagine working in the living section was scary: It was home to a wide array of true believers from Arianna Huffington's culty religious group, the Movement for Spiritual Inner Awareness. Hanks' supervisor, Anya Strzemien, was, according to insiders, forced by Huffington to attend a seminar run by a group closely tied to MSIA.Despite the hubub around her, Hanks seems to have been generally well regarded within HuffPo for keeping a level head.
Matthew Palevsky is Arianna Huffington's godson. His father Max was a billionaire computer entrepreneur. Palevsky was in January appointed to oversee HuffPo's OffTheBus citizen journalism initiative. He hardly seemed qualified:
The effort was a crown jewel, breaking two major scoops during the 2008 presidential campaign. It was previously headed by big guns: a Howard Dean and John Kerry organizer who formed a Web volunteering institute at Harvard Law, and a Nation editor and longtime magazine writer who teaches journalism at USC. They were of no relation to Huffington; one was later hired by Pro Publica.
Katherine Zaleski's father is said to be close friends with Ken Lerer, Huffington Post's co-founder. Further, we're told she has her own apartment in the El Dorado luxury co-op at 300 Central Park West; her dad is said to live in a separate penthouse of his own and Lerer a few floors down.
For four years, Zaleski controlled the coveted front page of the Huffington Post — as much as anyone besides Arianna does — but later moved into a special projects role. She took over the New York section after Dan Collins abruptly quit (Huffington later claimed he was always supposed to leave the job just after launch, but that's not what she told us just before launch).