Arianna Huffington has said she’s really, really sorry to her readers and promises to never run unattributed quotes on her HuffingtonPost blog site again.
But she’s never apologized to George Clooney. And she still maintains she had permission to run his quotes as a blog.
But Camp Clooney is pleased as punch that their March 15 statement about her blog being nothing more than recycled interview quotes, not a blog written by Clooney, has sparked discussions about blogdom ethics, honesty and the attribution of quotes.
Clooney’s publicist Stan Rosenfield maintains, "For the hundredth time, what Huffington calls a misunderstanding was, and still is, a blatant misrepresentation. She did not have permission to use George’s quotes and make it look like he wrote a blog,” says Rosenfield. “We asked her to clarify this on March 13 and when she refused, George released his statement on March 15.”
So before we bid "Good Night, and Good Luck" to the George Clooney blog brouhaha, there are a few statements Arianna made that bear examination for the public record.
In a March 15 Envelope blog item, explaining why she sought permission from freelance publicist Lisa Taback to use Clooney’s old quotes in a blog, Huffington explained: "I had met Lisa Taback at every “Good Luck” event and she was always with George. She told me to just send her the compiled quotes for the blog and that she would run it by George. The fact that it was for a blog was very unambiguous. Naturally, I didn’t think twice about it."
After reading the story, Taback told The Envelope, “There are a couple of inaccuracies,” including Huffington’s description of their meeting and phone conversation.
Taback said that while she had met Huffington years ago when doing PR for a Michael Moore film, she didn’t meet Huffington at any “Good Luck” events, not even the only “Good Luck” event Taback organized at the GM penthouse in the Beverly Regent Wilshire. The Feb 12 reception was hosted by talk show host Larry King and honored Clooney and “Good Night, and Good Luck” co-screenwriter Grant Heslov.
"Arianna didn’t attend,” says Taback. "Her sister did." Huffington’s producer pal Lawrence Bender brought her sister, Agape Stephanopoulus, to the reception.
That week Huffington called Taback about using a quote from Clooney for her blog. Taback sent an email on Feb. 17 to her Warner Independent Pictures boss Laura Kim seeking permission to reprint a partial quote from the Guardian.
A copy of Taback’s email fowarded to The Envelope from Kim indicated that after Huffington’s sister attended the "Good Night" event, Huffington’s interest was sparked in reprinting Clooney’s Guardian quote.
Kim’s Feb. 18 response gave Taback the go ahead.
Kim explained to The Envelope: "Arianna requested to use an attributed quote from The Guardian. Larry King’s interview was never brought up. I gave the okay because everyone does that, uses a quote and links to the original article."
Taback also recalls a phone call prior to the Clooney blog posting, when she asked Huffington about quote attribution. “I said, "You are going to source the quotes to the Guardian, right?’ And Arianna replied, “Naturally.”
In an interview with The Envelope, Huffington denied that this phone conversation took place. "All our contact was done by email," Huffington said.
On March 13, the day the faux blog went up, Taback says she spoke to Huffington by phone in the Caribbean and emailed her boss, Kim, who sent us a copy of the missive:
"I spoke to Arianna — She is on a boat right now… They are moving the blog down to the bottom of the HuffPost immediately. She is afraid if she removes it completely that it will cause more attention. They are replacing the item on Yahoo immediately. It will be removed completely from the blog by tomorrow. Arianna is sorry if it was misleading – they never attribute where comments originally appeared. (although I told her it was misleading…..)Please call me if you want to discuss more…"
So we think that ends this chapter from our end. Over to you, blogosphere.
Photo Credit: Hey, maybe Arianna Huffington got permission for Clooney’s Larry King quotes from Shawn King, whom she really did meet at Shawn’s Skybar album launch party.