HuffPo has quotas for op-ed authors by race and gender. Is this okay?

Here are some tweets from HuffPo Deputy Opinion Editor Chloe Angyal, stating that she, the site, or both, adhere to quotas for op-ed writers based on considerations of gender and ethnicity:

This disturbs me not so much for the affirmative action aspect but because op-eds are supposed to reflect viewpoint diversity, not genetic or gender diversity. The implicit assumption here is that everyone within a given identity class will have similar opinions, so perhaps by ensuring gender and ethnic diversity you perforce ensure opinion diversity.

But let’s be clear, HuffPo, like Breitbart, doesn’t really care about viewpoint diversity: there is one Authoritarian Left viewpoint that, with few exceptions, will be scrupulously adhered to by almost all writers. What they’re doing, then, is enforcing an equality of outcome without caring much about equality of opportunity (which would mandate a blind selection of writers on the basis of merit) or, indeed, even presenting a decent panoply of opinions.

But you weigh in. First, vote below, then give your more nuanced opinion in the comments:

Chloe Angyal:

HuffPo is the Breitbart of the Left, and I predict that its authoritarianism will soon bring it down, if for no other reason that more centrist Leftists can’t stand the site’s grandstanding and virtue signaling. Already the articles in sections other than its front page are barely being updated. I can hardly thing of any non-irritating and non-tabloidy Leftist websites save Slate, but would be glad to hear of any.

80 Comments

  1. Davide Spinello
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    This is pure and simple racist and sexist.

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Now they need to add vegetarian/vegan, gluten/gluten-free, silent/loud-farting,gmo/non-gmo and a few other under-represented-groups-to-the-balance…

      • DiscoveredJoys
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Or perhaps they should address the sad lack of the smallest minority – good writers.

  2. Stephen Barnard
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    TPM (Talking Points Memo) is good.

  3. Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    So in effect they have a preference for [i]not paying[/i] authors of color.

    • Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      Some places it is “<", and some places it is "[".

      • Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        I believe they pay every writer now, which got rid of a lot of chaff but also moved the staff further to the Authoritarian Left.

      • jaxkayaker
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        Mark:

        On websites run on phpBB and therefore using BBcode-type implementation of HTML, square brackets are used. On most of the internet, running standard HTML, angle brackets (inequality signs) are, well, standard. The former probably say phpBB or something similar on the index page.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          I often use [square brackets] because I never trust what WP is going to do with HTML.

          I know that most ppl will interpret them as mock HTML code so if I see [i]this[/i] I think ‘italics’. 😉

          cr

  4. GBJames
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    I voted “no opinion” but only because “Is it OK” might be evaluated in different ways, resulting (from my brain) in different answers. I’m over thinking it. After all, if I have more than one opinion on it that’s NOT “no opinion”.

    I think I’m confused this morning. I need breakfast.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

      I voted no opinion too. As almost always, I DO have an opinion, but it’s not definitive yet. I can see arguments both ways.

      The most important thing is that opinion writers can actually write, and that they provide a coherent argument. There should not be a problem finding plenty of people like this from all demographic groups. However, HuffPo has so far displayed an inability to identify them. That’s on the editors.

  5. glen1davidson
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Well, we knew that merit and intellectual diversity weren’t Huff’s concern, ever.

    Glen Davidson

  6. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Caveat : brain/attention is taxed at the moment

    I went from No opinion (vote) to yes to no

    [ deleted ]

    Argghhh!

  7. chris
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I voted yes because they’re being upfront about having quotas. You know what you’re getting.

  8. Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    First WEIT poll I was in the minority. It is sexist and/or racist, but it’s their policy. No one has to work for them and they appear to advertise this policy so APPLICANT BE WARNED.

    • Filippo
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Concur. It is a private corporate tyranny (and therefor is allowed to do what we wouldn’t tolerate government doing).

    • marvol19
      Posted March 17, 2018 at 6:06 am | Permalink

      Same here, voted yes.
      Like it or not, it’s their choice to make as a company. Nobody is forced to work for them or write for them or read them.

  9. Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    The idea on the surface seems good, but it leaves out many great writers and may lead to inferior work. What if you’re a certain ethnicity, but a terrible writer, and your work is published? Does this help you to become a better writer? No, it doesn’t. We need to start early with our children with equal opportunities, and then, without any interference, let the cream rise to the top. I think you’ll find that people of all races, are capable of great things.

  10. Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    It is okay. It is (or should be) a free country, and HuffPo isn’t the government. By the same token I am free not to read HuffPo, and I don’t.

    • Secular Transhumanist
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      That’s an argument for the practice being *legal*. It is not necessarily an argument for it being *okay*. The two are not synonymous.

      And I’m not sure about it being legal, for that matter. Aren’t there laws against businesses discriminating on the basis of race and gender when it comes to hiring?

      • Posted March 16, 2018 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        Actually, since I am not a lawyer, my statement meant simply that it is okay with me. As a legal matter, I do not think HuffPo would run afoul of the law because the group they discriminate against is not a “protected class.”

  11. Craw
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    HuffPo now pays for all articles so aside from the strong points made here it is arguably illegal employment discrimination. It is in any case ugly. So, good HuffPo branding IMO.

    • nay
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      If the article writers are independent contractors paid per article, they are not covered by non-discrimination employment law. That said, I voted Okay – so long as the articles are well reasoned and written. Seeking out good minority writers is helpful affirmative action; publishing schlock on that basis harms all readers and good writers of every group.

  12. dd
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    I look/read at both Huffington Post and Breitbart. You are so correct that they are mirror images of left and right.

    Now, let me make an unpleasant observation: Breitbart can be more sensational in its headlines, but it is more informative…and dare I say it, even more truthful than HP?????

  13. Clare45
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    People will read or not read Huffpo if they find the articles appealing and interesting, regardless of the color of the skin or gender of the person who wrote them. The situation should self-regulate with time if they lose readers as a result of this policy.

  14. Charlie Jones
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I agree generally with what Jerry wrote, but I don’t have a strong opinion in this case because I don’t find HuffPo remotely relevant. I tried their website a few times, and all I could find was gossipy Hollywood fluff-type material. The only time I ever saw something interesting is when someone like Jerry somehow found it and linked to it.

    My question is: How influential is PuffHo? Should I care about what they do for the same reason I care about what Fox News does? Or is HuffPo irrelevant to virtually everyone?

    • Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Well, this site shows it’s #76 in the world for news and media and got over 162 million views last month. That’s substantial.

      • Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        Holy crap, that’s scary! (But I suppose not very surprising.)

  15. Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I voted yes; and I will explain why.

    Not because I think it’s a smart or good thing to do.

    But because it’s a free country and if they want to do that, they can. It displays a set of X-ist attitudes; but they can do that. And it’s better, I think, that they are open about it, as they appear to be.

    This isn’t quality control, it’s virtue signaling and playing to a certain political crowd.

    As the lady in Autralia told me: “Thayze dickheads everywhere!”

    I am pretty sure I’ve never read anything on PuffHo. I’m pretty sure I’ve clicked on the site before, but read anything there. it doesn’t interest me.

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I see your point, and I tend to agree. However we should notice that being racist against any other group would have serious social consequences, as well as being sexist against women in such an open way. Or at least someone would be calling it racist and sexist instead of “Oh my gosh it is sooo progressive and free range that it inspired me to go gluten free let me see who Lena Dunham is dating now!!!111!!!1!”

      • Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

        Yes, it’s a very hypocritical (and even righteously hypocritical) attitude.

        If your are cis, het, white, male, middle-aged, middle-class, able-bodied (like me), then your fair game for anything they can throw at you.

        It’s always good to point out the hypocrisy.

        • Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

          you’re fair game (good grief!)

      • Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

        I have heard, on numerous occasions, “community leaders” “of color” solemnly declare that it’s impossible to be racist against white folk.

        You know, Newspeak, just as in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

          That’s the ethos of identity politics and the far ctrl-left.

  16. DrBrydon
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Is it ok? Yes. Is it a good idea? That depends on your goal. If your goal is to make it look like you are politically correct, then it works. If your goal is to have a good op-ed page, then only time will tell, but I doubt it. If the primary consideration isn’t quality, quality is only a lucky outcome.

  17. DrBrydon
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Oh, and what is not ok is LESS! FEWER than 50%. Clearly we know the Huffpo’s priorities.

    • Gamall
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:22 am | Permalink

      No. Percents are not atomic.

      • Gamall
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        Errrr, on second thought, what is being counted here are people (white authors), which are atomic and countable, so yes, FEWER is indicated.

        Phew.

        • DrBrydon
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I know. I had to think about it a bit, too.

          • Gamall
            Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, being pernickety is hard, underappreciated word.

            • Gamall
              Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

              work*

        • Kiwi Dave
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

          Although my practice concurs with your reasoning, Wiki states that ‘less’ has always been used with count nouns, supports the claim with a quotation from Alfred the Great, and further claims that the rule distinguishing between count and non-count nouns dates from 1770.

    • Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      This is one of my Grammar-Nazi things too!

      What I tell my son is: If you can count them (people, cats, donuts, sausages, bottles of beer (you can see where this is going)) then it’s: Many and fewer. “How many beers did you drink” “Only a couple, officer …” (Why is the lie always two beers?)

      If you can’t count them (water, air, a length of sausage casing, beer from an enormous vat) then it’s: More and less. “How much beer did you drink from that — whoa! — enormous vat there?” “Ocifer, um, er. *hic*!”

      • Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        Much not more. Duh.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

          Muphrys rides again!

  18. Simon Hayward
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I think it’s OK for them to do this, they are a privately owned website and can post what they want with whatever criteria they want to apply. Whoever owns the site dictates the content. I don’t think it does them any favors in terms of bringing in more readers, but then again the only time I see anything from the site is when it is a source of complaints here.

  19. Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    I voted “Yes” because HuffPo can do whatever they want; it’s their space. I ignore them and haven’t read them in years, because they are a self-parody. As for quotas, I support affirmative action in general but only when it’s consistent with its sensible goal: adjusting for the discrimination that’s endemic in our society. As Jerry says, HuffPo really is anti-diversity when it comes to viewpoint. Basically it’s a pretty silly space (lots of that on the web…) and we ought to just ignore them.

  20. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    A big problem here is that there is considerable diversity of opinion within ethnicities.
    Consider the recent Twitter war between Ta-Nahisi-Coates and Cornel West concerning Obama’s presidency.

    Internal divisions over the proper direction of feminism exist among women. Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia both self-identify as feminists, but diverge enormously from the party line.

    Opinions differ within ethnicities in different countries. Some African Americans regard Paul Simon’s Graceland album as an act of bad cultural appropriation. Virtually no African-Europeans do.

    And so on….

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Quite so. Since my knowledge of HuffPo is derived entirely from criticisms of the site, I could well be wrong, but suspect that distinguished, conservative commentators such as Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell would never be invited to fill HuffPo’s African-American quota.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

        Quite so.
        And you could even limit it to fairly liberal African Americans.

  21. Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Do prospective writers have to provide ID before publication or do they make assumptions about their gender and ethnicity?

    If Lionel Shriver wrote a brilliant essay for them but they didn’t know who she is would they bin it irrespective of its merit because it might be from a bloke?

    • Posted March 16, 2018 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      I think they’d bin it because Lionel Shriver wrote it.

  22. Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I’d be tempted to vote Yes for the same reason I’d throw them a shovel if they were stuck in a hole.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      *snerk* I had to think about that one for a second.

  23. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I voted no because there’s a risk that better articles by non-favoured groups of writers may not be published.

    Still it’s up to them to make it work, or they will eventually fold.

  24. Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Susan Haack pointed out 20 years ago or so that if one wants *viewpoint* diversity, work on *that*, not poor proxies for it. If, on the other hand, one wants “appearance diversity”, which is sometimes of relevance, go with that.

    (Her example was hiring professors for a philosophy department, but the same applies almost anywhere.)

    • Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      So, for example, which two of the three are most likely to have similar views on politics, culture, etc.? relevant to a news cite?

      a white male welder from and working in small town Tennessee
      a white male political science professor educated at Yale and working at the University of California, Riverside
      a Chinese-American female historian educated at Harvard and working at MIT

      It would make sense to verify, but I’d be willing to guess on a wide variety of topics the two academics have much more in common on a whole range of concerns than either has with the welder.

      So diversity *could* be the two white males! (As presented, of course, there’s no “diversity of ideas” reason to pick the historian over the political scientist, or vice-versa. More work needed, if this were a real case.)

  25. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I voted “no” only because it is an op ed and I think should be about opinions only and therefore the opinions should be diverse not the authors. It’s presumptions to think that a certain ethnic group or gender is uniform in opinion if that what they think they are doing.

  26. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    “Okay” in the poll question is, I think, ambiguous. I voted a qualified and lukewarm “yes.” I’ve always been uncomfortable with quotas per se, but I consider it a mitzvah to promote qualified minority applicants for positions for which they’ve been traditionally underrepresented.

    Hell, when I clerked for a federal judge after law school, though the gender balance was by then pretty close to even-Steven/Stephanie, there’d been a dearth of minority law clerks on that particular court. I spoke to my judge about it before I left, and asked the dean of my law school to encourage qualified minority students to apply (to no immediate avail, alas, though a minority law clerk from another school was hired a few years later).

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha even-Steven/Stephanie is a good one.

      • Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        Does anyone remember “Project Steve”? Stephanies were part of that too. 🙂

    • Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Your comment mirrors mt feelings very closely. Well put.

  27. Steve Cameron
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t realize that “goals” and “quotas” were interchangeable words. As much as I don’t care for PuffHo, I think you’re reading something in these tweets that isn’t there.

    • Neil Wolfe
      Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Seems like a distinction without a difference to me.

      • Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

        Well, you can have a goal to hire more women or minorities without imposing a quota on hiring decisions.

        I think a former director of mine did exactly this: He worked hard to hire more women engineers — and did so — but he happily hired good male candidates as well. The net effect was, by actively seeking out women candidates, we ended up with a higher percentage in fact.

        This was very well done, in my opinion.

        Do the women bring some je ne sais quoi that the males lack? Some “diversity factor”? Not in my opinion. But they all are, in general, male and female, equally competent. (Since we are all individuals, individual mileage will vary.)

        • Neil Wolfe
          Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

          If a hiring goal has specific values for representation associated with them then doesn’t that make them functionally quotas?

      • Steve Cameron
        Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

        Well, they’re not listed as synonyms of each other in any dictionary that I’ve checked, but you’re right. They seem similar enough if you squint and what does being accurate matter anyway?

  28. Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I voted yes – Most news sites have a particular editorial stance. HuffPo may be further left than others, but that stance has been fairly consistent. They wouldn’t publish a right leaning non-binary women of color to ensure representation – but I wouldn’t expect Breitbart to publish a far left heterosexual white male. But they are ensuring under-represented people are given opportunities. I believe it is important to ensure that those qualified peoples are supported. Without a doubt, the more opportunities they are given, the more their voices will impact the editorial positions of HuffPo – including diversity of ideas and experiences in directing the editorial direction.

  29. Neil Wolfe
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Irish need not apply

  30. ladyatheist
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I don’t mind diversifying the writing board, but less than 50% white seems extreme. If the women, hispanics, trans people, etc. are writing about their identity issues or from that point of view, it’s valid to consider that. As a white woman I wouldn’t presume to write about what life is like for a black man.

    I wouldn’t call it the equivalent of Breitbart, either. Brietbart is unequivocally evil and amoral. Huffpo has its issues but it hasn’t crossed that line. Sites like The Palmer Report are closer.

  31. Posted March 16, 2018 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    The practice is not okay!😋

  32. rickflick
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I agree. I sounds like the site will wither and die.

  33. Posted March 16, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    No. Requests for opinions should be open to all without quotas, and selected based on editors’ determination of appropriateness, quality, and clarity of the writing.

    Quality of writing has deteriorated in traditional media and books to such an extent that one wonders if there are human editors. It gets to the point where one can’t tell if the writer has ignorantly misused a word, or autocorrect is at fault without having been subsequently corrected by a human editor. I finished a novel last night in which the word “dredge” was used several times in places where “dregs” was obviously called for. Sometimes these things are humorous. Sometimes they are just pathetic.

  34. Barney
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I think this is OK, because I have no idea where “op-eds are supposed to reflect viewpoint diversity” has come from. Is that in some “Media Association rules”, written down somewhere? I think publishers can have whatever policy they want for their op-eds.

    I also disagree with “HuffPost is the Breitbart of the left”. Breitbart makes things up, and associates with criminals like James O’Keefe. It might be fair to say “HuffPost is the National Review of the left” – definitely partisan, and with some pretty odd opinions from some contributors.

  35. jaxkayaker
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    I voted yes, but I want to qualify it in the following manner:

    1. It’s important, as Jerry noted, to get a diversity of viewpoints, not merely a diversity of individuals by sex and ethnicity.
    2. That said, getting a group of individuals who are diverse in their ethnic and sexual identities (including sexual orientation and gender identification) to comment on those gender/sex/ethnic-related issues is likely to result in a diversity of viewpoints on those issues, unless we assume, e.g. all gay black transwomen have the same opinions.
    3. They’re a private institution and they’re being upfront about what they’re doing. In my mind, it’s “OK” in a legal and ethical sense. The one way it might be a problem is if there’s a lack of the aforementioned viewpoint diversity, which frankly, seems likely. They’ll probably have a very narrow range of “diverse” opinions allowed. I’m not saying they should publish David Duke’s column, but some reasoned arguments from the editors at reason magazine (a mostly-rational libertarian publication) would go far.

  36. nicky
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    I voted not okay. Writings should be considered by their quality, not by the ethnicity or other of the writer. That being said, the quality of HuffPo’s articles is not always really uniformly of great quality anyway. Regardless of anything.

  37. eric
    Posted March 16, 2018 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    For some reason I can’t see the vote (or vote). But if a private journal/newspaper makes racist/sexist decisions on who to give op-ed space to (or journalistic coverage space to, either), then the simple and best solution is: stop reading it.

  38. Posted March 16, 2018 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Huffington Post is not Left. Concern for people of some skin colour or identity who are usually excluded from the mainstream also fits Neo Nazis in most Western countries. It matters a lot what kind of politics comes out at the end, and I just can’t see what’s Left at Huffington Post.

    So I wrote the above paragraph, and then thought: How often do I actually check? Let’s check. Off I went. It directed me to the german version, and almost comical in this regard, the frontpage praises Bavaria, the prototypical conservative state, and — as if to rub it in, lauds the late Franz Joseph Strauss, icon of the conservative wing of the conservative party, the eternal chairman (1961 until 1988) of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria.

    Okay, maybe that’s just the german version, a subsidiary of the Bu*rda corporation, founded by an open fascist as a nazi-oriented business, which after the war, published a soldier magazine for the french occupation, and today the conservative magazine “Focus”, and yellow press garbage.

    The US version looks like gossip with some anti-Trump, and typical partisan shibboleths, that turn out to be more yellow press garbage. The women history month button leads to celebrities and nudity (top story, Jenna Jameson, motherhood and breastfeeding, right away: even that is yellow press garbage. It’s Democrats land, yes, but they’re not left either, only a bit more secular than Republicans (which are Far Right). At most, Huffington is liberal, by virtue of not being Republican.


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