Content|September 13, 2011| Author: Duncan Riley|Tags: , ,

Arianna Claims It’s Not About Personalities. In Other News, This Woman Runs A Major Company?

Just when we thought the TechCrunch/ AOL fiasco couldn’t get any more bizarre, Arianna Huffington has come out and (seriously) claimed that the whole saga had nothing to do with personalities, but everything to do with the principle.

Huffington’s target was an article (warning subscription required) from the Wall Street Journal that dare claim that the issue at hand might have been an issue of Arrington wanting independence from Huffington, and Huffington trying to exert her so-called independence at AOL to run policy.

That would be the same so-called independence that had her cut out of the loop about the CrunchFund to begin with.

I’d note that despite some issues with Arianna Huffington, I do have a lot of respect for her. But as someone who has worked spin as a Government staffer, and even as a TechCrunch writer, I smell spin from a mile away like I’d smell a pig in…well you know what. And it doesn’t just smell here, it’s making me gag.

Arianna writes:

“The issue at hand wasn’t about personalities. It was about principle; a very simple fundamental principle about conflicts of interest that every journalistic enterprise adheres to — including the Wall Street Journal, as its former publisher L. Gordon Crovitz points out today. But you wouldn’t know that from the breathless opening grafs of the exceptionally misinformed, substance-lite, and anonymous-quote-riddled piece.”

And that’s all very good in (dare I say) principle, except for one major problem: Arrington has made this about Arianna not interfering in the running of TechCrunch from the start.

I can say on the record that I’ve heard from people close to people at TechCrunch who have told me that Arianna has tried to insert herself into the running of the site from very early on in her position at AOL. Indeed, to quote one source close to the situation:

“Arianna didn’t like Michael coming in [to AOL]. She was afraid of his influence over Tim [Armstrong]. She’s subtly try to poke and prod at TechCrunch, but Tim kept her away.”

I’ve had my say on Arrington’s running of the site, so I’m not siding with him here. But it was always clear from the day that AOL bought The Huffington Post that Arrington and Arianna would clash. I wasn’t the only one to predict it either. Two egos in a pod does not make for a happy company.

Huffington is right when at the end of the day the argument did come down to ethics, but ignoring the personality clash (and more importantly his constant digs at her) makes her statement disingenuous at best.

Her attack on the Wall Street Journal does her no favors, and it looks poorly for her; I see it as a someone who is in a corner lashing out at those speaking the truth.

I have no doubt that Arianna may have wished to work nicely with Michael Arrington, but it was never going to happen. She states that it was a matter of ethics, but that in itself is an admission that the clash of ethics is one of personality, because Arrington doesn’t share the same ethical logic that she does.

It may come down to a matter of how you spin it, and maybe Arianna isn’t far off the truth, because you can fairly say that the personality clash did come down to ethics. But a personality clash is still a personality clash, and she’d be better off just sitting back and running the business, vs trying to interject herself into the AOL/ TechCrunch mess of which ultimately she was not responsible for…except for the fact that she should have been involved in from the beginning but was cut out of it by Tim Armstrong.