The fists haven’t stopped flying over the Huffington Post’s bad move in reprinting George Clooney’s statements in other venues as blog postings, and Arianna Huffington’s mea culpa is not placating the critics. The more I learn about what happened, the more I agree that this was an egregiously bad move on her part.
It all raises a question about a practice that is utterly routine in traditional journalism: the ghost-written op-ed piece. I recognize that although there are some similarities (Clooney’s representatives were at least partly complicit in the words’ republication), the situations are not the same — but I don’t consider it especially ethical of publications and the “writers” of these op-ed pieces to be passing off their words as authentic, either.
Such essays, usually under the bylines of politicians or celebrities, amount to deception. They are written by staffers or others, not by the big names themselves.
I hope that the newspapers now carving Huffington up for her transgression will take a long look at their own shops. Because the ghost-written op-ed piece is somewhat fraudulent, too.