“This is seriously troubling.”
Lance Simmens, author, whistleblower, political veteran, fracking activist, and more, went to see Vaxxed: From Coverup To Catastrophe at one of the California screenings, and was moved, enraged, awakened. He wrote a column for The Huffington Post about it, and it went up, as per the usual protocol–he has been a contributor for 8 years and written almost 200 articles without incident.
Shortly thereafter, without warning or explanation, the piece was taken down, and his account was blocked.
The Truth Barrier reached out to Simmens via an email interview:
TTB: Give us if you would, a brief history of your writing for Huff Po. How many years, how many pieces, what topics…
LS: I have been writing on Huffington Post for nearly eight years and during that time they have published something close to 180 articles. I am a political writer and have written articles over the years about events as they unfold, which is the nice feature of blogging. I have a decidedly liberal bent to my politics but have striven to write thoughtful, provocative pieces that try to define a rationale and logic to the policy prescriptions being offered.
TTB: What happened exactly when you posted your review of VAXXED to HuffPo?
LS: I saw a premier of VAXXED the other evening and was so moved by the presentation and discussion that followed that I felt compelled to write a piece asking that we at least begin a serious national dialogue on the allegations contained in the documentary. I also drew attention to the spate of events that have unfolded over the past several years, where there has been a massive governmental failure to do its essential job which is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens. I sent it to Huffington Post as I normally do–I have an account there–and they published the article. About a half hour later as I was sending it out to my network I was alerted by some folks that when they went to access it it was not coming up. It turns out that they pulled down the original piece and when I tried to rewrite it I was alerted that permission was denied to my account. I have made at least a half dozen attempts to reach someone at HuffPo to alert them that there was a malfunction and over the course of the last two days have not received one response. I even went so far as to email Arianna herself.
It never crossed my mind that this might be some sort of censorship because it has never happened to me and the article, while provocative, is not beyond any bounds of journalistic or political propriety.
TTB: Does Huffpo have editorial guidelines that writers are clear about? What are they?
LS: Yes, HuffPo outlines editorial guidelines and I follow them. I respect that they can determine whether or not to publish articles but what is so frightening here is that they originally published the article and then evidently pulled it back, unless it truly is a technical issue but I suspect they would have been right on fixing it if it had. This is seriously troubling.
TTB: Have you ever been paid for your work by The Huffington Post?
LS: No I have never been paid by HuffPo and I have always felt that that gave me the liberty to explore areas that might not be acceptable to the mainstream media. This is just shocking.
TTB: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
LS: I devoted nearly forty years to politics, public policy, and public service. I worked for two Presidential administrations, two U.S. Senators, two Governors, the U.S. Conference of Mayors and briefly for the Screen Actors Guild. I was a whistleblower in the documentary Gasland, Part 2 and am the author of two books: The Evolution of a Revolution: An Attack upon Reason, Compromise and the Constitution (which ironically is a collection of 86 articles I wrote in HuffPo over a 4 and a half year period) and Fracktured, just recently released, which is the definitive anti-fracking novel.
TTB: Would you still write for HuffPo in the future?
LS: Of course it depends upon what the actual story and fallout is from this sorry episode but yes I would still consider writing for HuffPo. I need to see how it plays out. I will coordinate with the VAXXED team. I will be speaking at the premier in Santa Monica later today, after the 4:40 show.
You can find Lance Simmens’ books on Amazon, here.
–Interview by Celia Farber
Coda: I passed a Barnes and Noble on the UWS yesterday and noticed a new book by Arianna Huffington that seems to be about why sleep is great. Being asleep. She is sitting on a bed, on the cover. I have never contributed to The Huffington Post because I oppose “Refrigerator journalism” and what I call “Czarist media,” which Arianna Huffington personifies. These are both my terms and I will define them: “Refrigerator journalism” is where writers are editor-less, and without attention, hosting, or brain contact of any kind. This is not publishing, editing, or journalism. Arianna Huffington is not an editor.
“Czarist media” refers to the new terrain writers and journalists found themselves in when, over the past 10-15 years, HuffPo introduced the idea of replacing payment for journalism, with an imaginary currency known as “access to the hive.”
You could set up your “ideas” there and have people notice them, if you chose. HuffPo argued that it “could not pay” its writers, but thousands of writers started tilling the new land, in hopes of one day growing money some other way.
HuffPo itself certainly did. In 2011 it was sold to AOL for $315 million.
Huffington and AOL’s Tim Armstrong business partner were quoted in The Guardian:
“This is the most exciting thing I have ever done,” Huffington said after the deal was first announced.
“Together, our companies will embrace the digital future and become a digital destination that delivers unmatched experiences for both consumers and advertisers,” said Armstrong. [Itals mine.]