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huffingtonpost.com; thedailybeast.com

Posted on

We gave it an A

You could almost hear the thud of fainting bodies hitting the floor when, near the end of Barack Obama’s first prime-time press conference on Feb. 9, he called on a Huffington Post reporter. It was the first time the online news portal had ever been invited to ask a question during a presidential briefing. Helen Thomas looked like she needed smelling salts. Part of it was payback — Obama thanking the liberal website for long supporting his candidacy — but it was also a milestone for Internet news. During the election, HuffPo (as fans call it) became a must-click obsession, a one-stop shop for campaign updates and cultural commentary, with celebrity contributors like Alec Baldwin and Mia Farrow spicing things up. Post-inauguration, it still offers the smart, snarky breaking news and analysis you’d expect from the conservative-turned-lefty pundit who publishes it. It’s so successful that it even spawned a rival run by another media maven with a public profile as big as Arianna’s.

Tina Brown’s The Daily Beast — named after a newspaper in an Evelyn Waugh novel — has been up only since October, so it’s not entirely fair to compare (HuffPo launched in 2005). But the former New Yorker and Vanity Fair editor is clearly trying to muscle in on her friend Huffington’s territory. The Beast’s design — black and white and red all over — is slicker, but its contributors are less politically plugged-in (Eric Idle) and there’s more fluff (”Oscars Speech Dos and Don’ts”). So far, the Beast hasn’t exactly roared — it’s had no major scoops that we can recall — but it shouldn’t be counted out. Over time, this could become the media battle of the century: Huffington versus Brown, or, as we like to think of them, Alien versus Predator. HuffPo: A ; Beast: Incomplete

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