Arianna Huffington, the editor in chief of The Huffington Post, isn’t laughing at Donald Trump’s presidential campaign anymore. And she doesn’t want her staff to, either.
That’s the sentiment expressed in a new public-facing note from HuffPost’s co-founder, which calls Trump an “ugly and dangerous force in American politics” who must be treated as such. It’s a 180-degree reversal of the site’s earlier headline-grabbing announcement that Trump would be relegated to HuffPost’s Entertainment section.
Huffington’s decree, which comes as Trump continues to poll ahead of his competitors, was released hours after a controversial policy announcement from the GOP candidate to bar Muslim immigrants from the country. Huffington cites it as one of the factors motivating the editorial shift:
…As today’s vicious pronouncement makes abundantly clear, it’s also morphed into something else: an ugly and dangerous force in American politics. So we will no longer be covering his campaign in Entertainment. But that’s not to say we’ll be treating it as if it were a normal campaign.
The statement is a big departure from HuffPost’s proclamation, made in July, to stick its Trump stories next to reality TV show recaps and summaries of celebrity gossip du jour. The rationale, provided this summer by HuffPost Editorial Director Danny Shea and Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim, was that Trump’s campaign is less a stately political endeavor and more of a “sideshow.”
We won’t take the bait. If you are interested in what The Donald has to say, you’ll find it next to our stories on the Kardashians and The Bachelorette.
That decision was greeted alternatively by admiration and derision, depending on who you asked. Fans of HuffPost said it was a step away from the “View From Nowhere” paradigm in American journalism, which holds that reporters and editors must maintain neutral positions in the pursuit of objectivity even when confronted by egregious rhetoric from one side of the political spectrum. Opponents of the decision said HuffPost was editorializing by discriminating against a right-wing candidate or else forsaking traditional journalistic objectivity by deeming Trump’s campaign a spectacle. Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, called the decision to brand Trump as entertainment “ridiculous” in an interview with The Washington Post.
But in the months since Trump announced his campaign, the real estate mogul turned reality star turned presidential candidate has espoused rhetoric that qualifies him for bare-knuckled treatment from the online news outlet, Huffington says:
As we’ve seen in the Republican race so far, Trump’s worst comments don’t occur in a vacuum — or land without repercussions. They affect the tenor of the conversation, frequently moving the line between what’s considered mainstream and what’s considered unabashedly extreme and unacceptable.
So we’ll not only be covering the ways Trump’s campaign is unique in recent American politics, but also the disastrous impact it continues to have on his fellow candidates — and the national conversation.