Robot Sex Poll Reveals How I Got Invited–Then Uninvited–As Guest on Huffington Post Live TV Show

11 Apr

Robot Sex Poll Reveals Huffington Post Uses Slave Plantation Economic Business Model to Convince Writers to Work for No Pay:

“You Should be Grateful We Let You be Our “House Negro” or You’d be Picking Cotton in the Fields With the Rest of  the Slaves”

Or How I Got Invited–Then Uninvited– to be a Guest on the Huffington Post Live Television “News” Talk Show

By Nate Thayer

April 11, 2013

Two days after my email exchange with the Atlantic magazine, which I posted unredacted and verbatim on my previously obscure blog, which went viral sending several hundred thousand readers to my website (a 39,000% increase in traffic over the day before. I checked), I received the following email from the Huffington Post:>


date: Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 1:40 PM

subject: Interview request from the Huffington Post for tomorrow


“Hello Mr. Thayer,

I’m a producer with HuffPost Live, the webTV network of the Huffington
Post. As someone who’s followed your work for a long time (I lived in
Phnom Penh for several years in the early 2000s), I was happy to see
your response to The Atlantic, and the attention it’s been getting.

Would you be interested in appearing on HuffPost Live tomorrow
afternoon to discuss the issue, and the larger questions around how to
make freelancing work sustainable? We’ve got a 30 minute discussion
scheduled for 3:30 pm New York time, and would be happy to have you
join via webcam, or, if you are in New York, in person. I’d be happy
to provide more details or answer any questions. Thanks for your time.


HuffPost Live


P.S. Yup, I am aware of the irony of the Huffington Post covering this issue…”

The very pleasant and professional Huffington Post representative will remain unnamed.

The only single regret I have regarding the Atlantic magazine kerfuffle is that the unfortunate woman who was tasked by her employers with the job of calling me and requesting I write for them for free was the focus of any of the resulting negative reaction.

She, like the Huff Post fellow, was, also, very cordial and professional, as was I, and all three of us were just doing our jobs. All three of us did nothing wrong or different than say, a used car salesman on the car lot does, or a U.S. telephone service provider’s complaint representative who happens to based in Bombay does.

The initial email was followed a couple hours later by a text message at 4:24 PM March 7:

“Hello Mr. Thayer:

This is xxxxxxxxx ssssssssss   from the HP, following up on an email. Would love to do a webcam interview tomorrow if you are interested and available. Thanks for your time.”

This was followed a few minutes later by a phone call from the gentleman from the Huffington Post reiterating their request to me to appear on a live television debate panel.

The topic? The dust kicked up by the Atlantic brouhaha over for-profit media companies increasing their profit margin by refusing to pay the writers of the stories they sell.

The discussion was both pleasant and frank. I accepted the Huffington Post invitation, but made sure to add:


“I would be happy to appear on the show, but let’s be frank here. You guys are the very poster child of using unpaid writers as the equivalent of slave labor as the very core of your business model to provide “news” to news consumers. If you are under any remote misimpression I won’t be required to mention, and probably focus rather vigorously on, that fact, you would be mistaken. The Huffington Post is perhaps the most logical example of the merits of why I refused the Atlantic’s request in the first place. You must be–or certainly should be–aware that you would very mistaken to think I would not raise that issue for discussion on your show.

I would be both happy to appear on your television show and certainly will raise the topic of the Huffington Post being perhaps the starkest example of the type of media organization I refuse to enable.”

 “The very fact you are inviting me on the show to talk about the issue of journalists not  being able to make a living under  the current financial models of corporate media is newsworthy as a standalone story itself.

The irony inherent in your invitation is not going to elude anyone. I just want to be sure that it hasn’t eluded the executives at Huff Post who signed off on the request to invite me on as a guest to discuss the topic. You best double check with them”

The producer, to his credit, broached that reality in his initial email, and we had no differences of opinion.

Huffington Post producer:

“That is a good point. Let me recheck and run this by my bosses again and I will get back to you in a few minutes.”

The “news poobahs at Huff Post regrouped and reconsidered, and exactly 30 minutes later, at 4:54 PM on March 7, they retracted their invitation.

Huffington Post Text Message 4:54 PM March 7:

“Thanks much for making time to talk. Sorry this one isn’t going to happen, but I’ll reach out again for others stories. I’ll just say good luck.”

I didn’t think so.

I had been cordially dis-invited to participate in a debate prompted by my blog post, which they deemed a sufficiently newsworthy topic to merit devoting their daily television live news  talk show to discuss.

But apparently they just didn’t want me to broach the fact that the Huffington Post is the most prominent proponent of employing the central business model which was the engine of the slave economy in the American confederacy before a few, apparently fleeing, historical hiccups through things off track for a couple of generations, in the view of the Huffington Post and their allies.

Those things would include, say, the civil war, the emancipation proclamation, and the 13th amendment to the Constitution that abolished the practice of one set of human being requiring another set of human beings to work for free. That law, enshrined in the core documents that define the moral, legal, and ideological philosophy of the nation, was only enacted as the result of the bloody carnage that left a few million people dead in the only war ever fought on U.S. soil since we told King George to fuck off 238 years ago.

Apparently, the Huffington Post believes the wrong side won that war.

Today saw another example of how the Huffington Post is in the business of delivering their customers to advertisers, not serious journalism vital to a free society to the citizenry.

This is how it works: The Huffington Post creates faux news to attract readers. Those readers are categorized as page view statistics who/which are then peddled to advertisers in exchange for cold cash money.

The Huff Post are not in the business of delivering credible journalism to news consumers.

The Huffington Post (Disclaimer: for the first time in this article I am speculating) doesn’t really care whether they are selling toothpaste or being entrusted with ensuring the robust health of the vital institution of providing information important for the common good of a free people in a free society. They will sell whatever product will maximize their profit margin and return of investment.

I could be wrong on citing toothpaste as an example. I don’t have a shred of corroboration to make that assertion, and they might well, as far as I know, not ideologically embrace the system of modern dental hygiene.

Regardless, they certainly have proven themselves comfortable with writing stuff which provides no credible evidence or citations, so no foul no harm on the above paragraph.

More precisely, they are the poster child for delivering page clicks to advertisers in the guise of being a serious media organization.

Their argument to those who produce the product they sell–news– boils down to the false premise of “You Should be Grateful to be Our “House Negro” or You’d be Picking Cotton in the Fields Like the Rest of  the Slaves.” 

So give the headline writer for the April 10 story, Robot Sex Poll Reveals Americans’ Attitudes About Robotic Lovers, a gold star and the assignment editor cum marketing huckster a black mark for creating a non-story from a brilliant headline:

The April 10 headline,  is an example of creating a non story from thin air, a la the National Enquirer of old, via a sensationalist, misleading headline.

But the Huffington Post went to remarkable acrobatics, even for their rather starkly transparent absence of standards, and took it one unethical step outside the out-of-bounds marker, which they usually try to keep their tippie-toes from straying across, to maintain the fiction they are an actual provider of a product resembling serious news content.

They constructed their aliens-abducted-my-mother story by trying to attach the mantle of credibility of a Stanford University research study to the article that had exactly zero to do with the story the Huffington Post published.

From the Huffington Post story which I refuse to link to as a matter of principle because:

1/It is a bullshit story that was created to drive readers to their site by misleadingly citing entirely unrelated Stanford University research and then ‘conducting’ a Huff Post poll, whatever that means to fit their headline.


2/ because it is the Huffington Post, whose entire business model is based on using slave labor with the 3-card Monty, marketing-trick sales pitch to convince their unpaid writers to work for free using the same argument slave owners on the plantations used to convince the ‘House Negro’ that s/he had a bright future compared to the false premise alternative; the slaves working the fields to pick cotton.

The Huffington Post used this successful business model to sell the company for $315 million in 2011. None of that went to those who actually produced the product they then sold for that profit: the writing.

And now back to the story of sex with robots.

Here are the opening lead three paragraphs:

“A provocative new poll shows that Americans have little trouble imagining a future full of personal service robots — at least when it comes to robots tasked with cleaning our homes, driving our cars, and even helping fight our wars.

But the HuffPost/YouGov poll shows that we’re a bit squeamish about bots in especially personal roles, such as caring for elderly people or replacing a human sex partner. These findings are consistent with research conducted by Stanford University’s Dr. Leila Takayama, an expert in robot-human relationships.

“We’ve been finding that people prefer the idea of working with robots instead of having robots work in place of people,” Takayama told The Huffington Post in an email.”

The above three paragraphs were constructed to encourage the reader to blink and not recognize that that the first reference to a “provocative new poll”, which was citing the second reference to a “HuffPost/YouGov poll”, which was entirely unrelated to the third reference to “research conducted by Stanford University’s Dr. Leila Takayama, an expert in robot-human relationships.”

And then we get to the eye-catching part of the story that relates to the headline, with the readers having been attempted to be snookered to thinking these were findings by Stanford University.

“And what about robotic sex partners?

“Eighteen percent of respondents indicated that they believed sexbots will be available by 2030. Nine percent indicated that they would have sex with a robot if they could (though perhaps they wouldn’t have been keen on admitting that if they could).

Sex with a robot raises some thorny ethical questions — including whether a married person who hooked up with a robot would be guilty of infidelity. What did the poll find? Forty-two percent of Americans indicated that such a dalliance would constitute cheating. Another 31 percent said it wouldn’t, and 26 percent said they were unsure. Respondents under age 30 were almost as likely to say it wouldn’t be cheating (34 percent) as that it would (36 percent). Americans over age 65 were far more likely to say that it would, by a 52 percent to 24 percent margin.”

The Huffington Post claimed the poll had a margin of error of 3.7%

“The poll was conducted Feb. 20-21 among 1,000 U.S. adults. It used a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling.”

Are there any further questions why a news organizations that has as its very essence a business model to increase its profit margin by eliminating the expense of paying for the product they market for sale is not an acceptable alternative to providing quality news that is worthy of labeling itself as journalism in a free society?

I didn’t think so.

17 Responses to “Robot Sex Poll Reveals How I Got Invited–Then Uninvited–As Guest on Huffington Post Live TV Show”

  1. Jeff Winbush April 11, 2013 at 3:57 am #

    As a matter of principle, I do not read, I do not link to, and would never write for The Huffington Post. Run by phony liberal and full-time exploiter Arianna Huffington, she has set a template of how to destroy freelance writing. Huffington is the worst sort of exploiter. She can afford to pay her contributors, but refuses to. I think Arianna is a horrible person and a disease to journalism. The more successful she is the more destructive she is to the profession. I applaud your decision not to whore yourself out for a few fleeting minutes of publicity on her site.


    • mylifeinfocusblog April 11, 2013 at 11:39 am #

      I agree. Totally!


  2. Mark Turner April 11, 2013 at 5:14 am #

    Always interesting to get insights on the inner workings of modern media companies, and congrats of getting this issue heard around the world, but I am far from convinced by the use of ‘house negro’ here. Was it intended as a self-mocking use of an ostensibly attention gathering headline which has little to do with the story? (If so, it’s still a little cheap, no?)


  3. Al Rockoff April 11, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Is use of a dildo “robotic sex”??? Is that how Dr. Leila Takayama did her research?


  4. journal6other April 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Edit your reply for concision: “Dear HuffPo: Thank you for the offer to appear. What is your speaking engagement fee?”


  5. manatee April 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    I applaud your principles. I hope there will be many of you who speak up against exploitation.


  6. Warren Swil April 12, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    Nothing short of brilliant. You deserve a Pulitzer


  7. Bret @ GGT April 12, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    It’s about fucking time we, as the creators of the product the corporate media is using as a vehicle for selling advertising, stand up for a fair and adequate wage for our work. Kudos to you, Nate, for being our Norma Rae. Fight the power!


  8. David Walker April 12, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

    You have crossed the line. To equate the practice of Huff Post of not paying their bloggers to antebellum slavery is one of the most asinine and intellectuality bankrupt comments I have heard. Then you invoked the civil war, the emancipation proclamation, and the 13th amendment to the Constitution as a part of your argument. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! I’m sorry the big bad wolf Huff Post won’t pay you for your work or other bloggers. Last I check Huff Post is not dishing out 30 lashes or selling your children and/or wife. FIND SOMEONE THAT WILL PAY YOU! You are FREE to do so! That is a far cry from being uprooted from your home, forced to march for miles tied together by the neck then chained together in a slave ship under horrific conditions. If you were lucky to survive, you were then subjugated and dehumanized. And this went on for 246 years with another 100 years of de facto slavery! How many years has Huff Post been around? Where was a blog in the 1700’s when a brother needed one? So I am sorry, you lost me when you tried to channel your internal Quentin Tarantino with your house slave, field slave diatribe. Look if you think Huff Post is undermining journalism and destroying the journalism business model, say that. Otherwise find a more worthy analogy to make your point without the sophomoric hyperbole. Sorry Nate, in 2013, you are not a slave, field or house. You can do as you please, simply put you are FREE! Your blog kinda proves that in case you were wondering. Free to say what you want, free to work for anyone that employs you or for yourself and even refuse to work for those that don’t pay you. To use the slave analogy shows that you are either; A. don’t have a basic understanding of history, B. are a narcissist looking to show how cool you are by using a narrative that diminishes the significance of a painful time in history C. stepped in it when trying to make a point. I believe it is C. Clean your shoe and think next time, you are free to do that to.


    • Jordan Rastrick April 13, 2013 at 12:27 am #

      What Mr Walker says.

      You’re perfectly entitled to refuse to write for nothing, to take a stand over the issue, and to encourage others to do the same. Good for you.

      But appropriating the suffering of actual slaves – people who by definition never had any such choice – makes you come across as a complete asshole.


  9. dan tynan (@tynanwrites) April 12, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    What I can’t understand is why you didn’t just go on the show and blast them. Why give them fair warning and an opportunity to dis-invite you?


  10. Chris Richard April 13, 2013 at 12:59 am #

    Because he’s not like them. The foundation of their way of doing things is that what counts is exposure, and nothing else — not honesty, not fair dealing — nothing else counts. He gave them fair dealing.
    The really amazing thing about these people is their assumption that everybody else will operate like they do.
    Good for you, Nate.


    • Chris Richard April 13, 2013 at 1:04 am #

      But I do have to add, the house negro stuff is a bit much. Making allusions like that diminishes your point.


  11. rachelmarsden April 14, 2013 at 12:36 pm #

    Good for you. Glad to finally see people stranding their ground on this. I wrote about the exact same thing in the Spectator in 2011:


  12. rachelmarsden April 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Good for you! Glad to finally see people speaking out about this abhorrent practice. I wrote about it myself for the Spectator back in 2011, in a piece called “The New Slavery”:



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