Huffington was the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, which is now owned by AOL. She was a popular conservative commentator in the mid-1990s, after which, in the late-1990s, she offered liberal points of view in public, while remaining involved in business endeavors. In 2003, she ran as an independent candidate for governor in the California recall election and lost. In 2009, Huffington was #12 in Forbes‘s first-ever list of the Most Influential Women In Media. She has also moved up to #42 in The Guardian‘s Top 100 in Media List. As of 2014, she is listed by Forbes as the 52nd Most Powerful Woman in the World.
In 2011, AOL acquired The Huffington Post for US$315 million, and made Huffington the President and Editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, which included The Huffington Post and then-existing AOL properties including AOL Music, Engadget, Patch Media, and StyleList. On August 11, 2016, it was announced that she would step down from her role at The Huffington Post to devote her time to a new startup, Thrive Global, focused on health and wellness information.
Huffington was born Ariadn-Anna Stasinopolou (– ) in Athens, Greece, the daughter of Konstantinos (a journalist and management consultant) and Elli (ne Georgiadi) Stasinopoulou, and is the sister of Agapi (an author, speaker and performer). She moved to the United Kingdom at the age of 16 and studied economics at Girton College, Cambridge, where she was the first foreign, and third femalePresident of the Cambridge Union.
In 1971, Huffington appeared in an edition of Face the Music along with Bernard Levin. A relationship developed, of which she wrote, after his death: “He wasn’t just the big love of my life, he was a mentor as a writer and a role model as a thinker.” Huffington began writing books in the 1970s, with editorial help from Levin. The two traveled to music festivals around the world for the BBC. They spent summers patronizing three-star restaurants in France. At the age of 30, she remained deeply in love with him but longed to have children; Levin never wanted to marry or have children. Huffington concluded that she had to break away and moved to New York in 1980.
In 1973, Arianna (as Stasinopolou) wrote a book titled The Female Woman, attacking the Women’s Liberation movement in general and Germaine Greer‘s 1970 The Female Eunuch in particular. In the book she wrote, “Women’s Lib claims that the achievement of total liberation would transform the lives of all women for the better; the truth is that it would transform only the lives of women with strong lesbian tendencies.”
In 1979, Polydor Records released a solo album by Irene Papas entitled Odes, with music performed (and partly composed) by Vangelis Papathanassiou. The words for the album were co-written by Arianna Stassinopoulos.
In the late 1980s, Huffington wrote several articles for National Review. In 1981, she wrote a biography of Maria Callas, Maria Callas – The Woman Behind the Legend, and in 1989, a biography of Pablo Picasso, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer.
Huffington rose to national U.S. prominence during the unsuccessful Senate bid in 1994 by her then husband, Michael Huffington, a Republican. She became known as a reliable supporter of conservative causes such as Newt Gingrich‘s “Republican Revolution” and Bob Dole‘s 1996 candidacy for president. She teamed up with liberal comedian Al Franken as the conservative half of “Strange Bedfellows” during Comedy Central‘s coverage of the 1996 U.S. presidential election. For her work, she and the writing team of Politically Incorrect were nominated for a 1997 Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Program.
As late as 1998, Huffington still aligned herself with Republicans. During that year, she did a weekly radio show in Los Angeles called “Left, Right, & Center“, that “match her, the so-called ‘right-winger’, against self-described centrist policy wonk Matt Miller, and veteran ‘leftist’ journalist Robert Scheer.” In an April 1998 profile in The New Yorker, Margaret Talbot wrote that “Most recently, she has cast herself as a kind of Republican Spice Girl – an endearingly ditzy right wing gal-about-town who is a guilty pleasure for people who know better.” Huffington described herself by side-stepping the traditional party divide, saying “the right/left divisions are so outdated now. For me, the primary division is between people who are aware of what I call ‘the two nations’ (rich and poor), and those who are not.”
Huffington, of Greek background, opposed NATO intervention against Serbia during the Yugoslav Wars and in 2000, she instigated the “Shadow Conventions”, which appeared at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia and the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles at Patriotic Hall.
Huffington headed The Detroit Project, a public interest group lobbying automakers to start producing cars running on alternative fuels. The project’s 2003 TV ads, which equated driving sport utility vehicles to funding terrorism, proved to be particularly controversial, with some stations refusing to run them.
In a 2004 appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, she announced her endorsement of John Kerry by saying, “When your house is burning down, you don’t worry about the remodeling.” Huffington was a panel speaker during the 2005 California Democratic Party State Convention, held in Los Angeles. She also spoke at the 2004 College Democrats of America Convention in Boston, which was held in conjunction with the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Huffington was also a regular panelist on the nationally syndicated weekend radio program, Both Sides Now with Huffington & Matalin, hosted by Mark Green.
She is also a One Young World Counsellor, speaking to delegates at summits in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2013 and Dublin, Ireland in 2014. She spoke about her “third metric” for success and the value of youth leadership.
California recall election participation
Huffington was an independent candidate in the 2003 recall election of California Governor Gray Davis. She described her candidacy against frontrunner Arnold Schwarzenegger as “the hybrid versus the Hummer“, making reference to her ownership of a hybrid vehicle, the Toyota Prius, and Schwarzenegger’s Hummer. The two would proceed to have a high-profile clash during the election’s debate, during which both candidates were rebuked for making personal attacks.
She dropped out of the race on September 30, 2003, and endorsed Governor Gray Davis’ campaign to vote against the recall. Polls showed that only about 2 percent of likely California voters planned to vote for her at the time of her withdrawal. Though she failed to stop the recall, Huffington’s name remained on the ballot and she placed 5th, capturing 47,505 votes or 0.55% of the vote.
Presence in media
Huffington was a panelist on the weekly BBC Radio 4 political discussion programme, Any Questions?, and the BBC television panel games Call My Bluff and Face the Music. She served as co-host of BBC’s late night chat show Saturday Night at The Mill for four weeks before viewer complaints caused her to be dropped from the show.
Huffington at one point was the co-host of the weekly, nationally syndicated, public radio program Both Sides Now, along with Mary Matalin, former top aide to the George W. Bush White House. Every week on Both Sides Now, Huffington and Matalin discussed the nation’s relevant political issues, offering both sides of every issue to the listeners. Both Sides Now was hosted by former Air America Radio President and HuffPost blogger Mark J. Green.
Prior to The Huffington Post, Huffington hosted a website called AriannaOnline.com. Her first foray into the Internet was a website called Resignation.com, which called for the resignation of President Bill Clinton and was a rallying place for conservatives opposing Clinton. About Clinton resigning, she wrote, “Only some act of sacrifice can begin to restore the image of the President that we are left with from the Starr report – a man of staggering narcissism and self-indulgence, whom nobody dared gainsay, investing his energies first in gratifying his sexual greeds and then in using his staff, his friends, and the Secret Service to cover up the truth.”
Huffington participated in the 24th annual “Distinguished Speaker Series” at the University at Buffalo, NY, on September 16, 2010. She headlined a debate against radio co-host Mary Matalin on current world events, political issues, and the local Buffalo economy. The University at Buffalo “Distinguished Speaker Series” has featured a multitude of world-renowned politicians and celebrities such as; Tony Blair, Bill Nye, Jon Stewart, and the Dalai Lama.
Huffington offered to provide as many buses as necessary to transport those who wanted to go to Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on October 30, 2010, from The Huffington Post headquarters in New York City. Ultimately, she paid for 150 buses to ferry almost 10,000 people from Citi Field in Queens to RFK Stadium in DC.
In 2012, Huffington became a LinkedIn Influencer, writing about success and sharing professional insights.
Claims of plagiarism
Huffington was accused of plagiarism for copying material for her book Maria Callas (1981); the claims were settled out of court in 1981, with Callas’ biographer Gerald Fitzgerald being paid “in the low five figures”.
Lydia Gasman, an art history professor at the University of Virginia, claimed that Huffington’s 1988 biography of Pablo Picasso, Picasso: Creator and Destroyer, included themes similar to those in her unpublished four-volume PhD thesis. “What she did was steal twenty years of my work”, Gasman told Maureen Orth in 1994. Gasman did not file suit.
Columnist Maureen Orth also claimed that Huffington “borrowed heavily for her 1993 book, The Gods of Greece“.
Huffington has had a lifelong interest in spirituality; in her youth, together with Bernard Levin, she explored the Rajneesh movement, later dating est founder Werner Erhard and going on to become affiliated with John-Roger Hinkins‘ Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness. In 1994, she published a self-help book titled The Fourth Instinct, outlining her view that people should rise above the three basic instincts of survival, power, and sex to find their higher and better selves.
Huffington met her husband Michael Huffington in 1985. They were married a year later, on April 12, 1986. They have two daughters, Isabella and Christina.
Arianna became a naturalized American citizen in 1990. She is Greek by birth. The couple later moved to Santa Barbara, California, and in 1992 Michael ran as a Republican for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which he won by a significant margin. In 1994, Michael narrowly lost the race for the U.S. Senate seat in California to incumbent Dianne Feinstein.
The couple divorced in 1997. In 1998, Michael Huffington disclosed that he was bisexual saying, “I know now that my sexuality is part of who I am, I’ve been through a long process of finding out the truth about me.” He said, “In December 1985, in my Houston town house I sat down with and told her that I had dated women and men so that she would be aware of it … The good news was that it was not an issue for her.”