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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Arianna Huffington Visits Stony Brook

Kenneth Ho/The Statesman

Arianna Huffington spoke Monday to a packed audience in the Staller center about her new book “Third World America” and how she believes the country is heading in the direction of becoming a third world nation.

Huffington, the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, has written over a dozen books and is one of the most sought after political thinkers today. She was brought to Stony Brook by a crowd-sourcing contest in which Think Magazine, a progressive publication on campus, was chosen as one of 15 finalists out of about 200 submissions. Think placed third and garnered more then 400,000 votes in two weeks.

“When the contest ended it was very up in the air,” said Adam Peck, the founder and editor of Think. “We were told she was going to do the top three but there was no real confirmation, we were cautiously optimistic.”

Huffington sat down with Dean Howard Schneider of the School of Journalism to talk about her book, views on the media and the current political landscape of the country. Her book speaks about how American politicians are ignoring the middle class and throwing away the American dream.

When asked if a third world country was inevitable, Huffington said it is not a time for compliance but a time to coarse correct.

“It is important to sound the alarm before the iceberg hits the titanic,” Huffington said. “We’re at the stage now where if we course correct we can avoid the fate of becoming a third world country.”

Huffington claims that we are living in an oligarchy right now and that the middle class has no representation in the government. She says we need to change this by making people see that government is not a spectator sport.

“Change always comes when the people insist on change,” Huffington said drawing parallels to the women’s rights movement and the civil rights movement of the 1960s. “We can’t see ourselves as simply complaining and sitting on the sidelines.”

Huffington, who was a supporter of President Barack Obama during his campaign was asked by Schneider to give the president a grade form A to F.  She artfully dodged the question, however, saying that politics is a comparison game. She likened America’s current problems to a cancer.

“It’s like saying, ‘We cured 70 percent of it, but your cancer has moved to stage four,’” Huffington said.

Huffington said this is a golden age for news consumers, but with the current misinformation and rumors that appear in the news each day, Huffington said that in the future of the news media, trust is everything.

If you blog for the Huffington Post you are not allowed to espouse conspiracy theories and you must correct yourself if there is a mistake in your blog entry. She said that updating and correcting information is the most important thing to focus on in today’s world of misinformation.

Not everyone was as smitten with Huffington as most the constantly applauding audience was.

At one point during the question and answer session, Kevin Saballa, the president of the campuses un-official Tea Party club, asked Huffington what she thought about the Tea Party movement and anger toward the current government.

She believes the Tea Party anger is legitimate and sympathizes with their anger.

“It’s an anger against the establishment that has completely betrayed the American people,” she said.

“I liked the fact that she was addressing anger of the average voter from all parties, although when she said voting incumbents out was a bad idea, I was not really thrilled, Saballa said in an email message. “If the incumbent is the one who is doing the under hand deals that just helps he/she or their buddies who lobby them and not the American people then they become almost like monarchs.”

Although Huffington talks a lot in her book about the possibility of a third world America, she does not see that as an inevitable future.

“If we stay on this track we will become a third word country,” she said. “We either become third world America, or a country better than what we were.”

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