Magazine | February 9, 2009, Issue


April 20, 2009

TO: All Huffington Post (paid) contributors

FROM: Arianna

RE: The Olbermann accident & a medical & mental-health benefits clarification

Dear Team:

I’m writing this to you on board Bob Pittman’s G5, so please excuse any typos!!

Now, on a serious note: Our hearts and prayers are with our friends at MSNBC and the entire Olbermann family at this time. It was and is a devastating shock to all of us, and I know that we’re all processing the events of yesterday in our own unique ways.

As it happened, I was in the green room watching the monitor when Keith’s head exploded. He was trying to explain to his viewers how President Obama’s use of FISA-allowed wiretaps was fundamentally different from former and unindicted President Bush’s use of FISA-allowed wiretaps when, according to medical examiners, his brain simply burst under the pressure, resulting in what doctors call cranial auto-detonation.

Needless to say, my segment was postponed.

The Olbermann tragedy, coupled with Katie Couric’s Obama Tax Cut–induced stroke last month and Andrew Sullivan’s nervous breakdown and subsequent institutionalization in February after President Obama declined to shut down the prison in Guantanamo Bay, means it’s imperative that we take a moment to clarify the medical-benefits package that Huffington Post (paid) contributors currently enjoy.

Believe me, this was all a lot easier when I started the HuffPo. Back then, we didn’t pay anyone for anything, which made figuring out employee benefits a snap. We didn’t offer any! But with Katie in a vegetative state, Andrew painting daffodils on a padded cell wall with his own feces, and Keith completely exploded, I guess it’s time to face the facts: The Obama administration is going to take a deep and severe toll on the mental and physical health of the progressive Left.

So now, as with any organization experiencing rapid growth and a high valuation, we’ve got to figure out what, exactly, we’re covering and what we’re not. We owe our (paid) contributors a clarification.

In the past 90 days, the number of employees putting in mental-health-related claims has soared. There are now 31 employees taking two or more anti-psychotic medications daily, with the majority of our IT staff subsisting on the anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medications Paxil and Zoloft.

In addition, the number of employee sick days has dramatically increased. Some of our (paid) contributors are reporting extreme neck and muscle strain, as they try to contort themselves into postures that allow them to maintain a joyful enthusiasm for President Obama’s new administration despite its similarities to the administration of former and unindicted President Bush.

#page# Next week, the Obama administration is planning a Rose Garden celebration marking our nation’s victory in Iraq. “Mission Accomplished! Thanks, Heroes of the Surge!” is sure to be a difficult and trying time for most of us — well, not for me so much; I’ll be there waving the flag!! — but it’s also important to understand that the wonderful, uncritical, over-the-top enthusiasm for Barack Obama is considered by our medical insurance providers to be a preexisting condition and is therefore not covered under our current schedule of benefits.

I wish I could deliver better news, but our bootstrap, startup project simply couldn’t afford to extend to our (paid) contributors coverage of these kinds of reactions. We simply cannot afford to lower the prescription-drug co-pay to make the anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications that many of you find necessary more affordable.

What I can do, and will do starting tomorrow, is offer the use of my personal massage therapist to all (paid) contributors for a reduced rate (chair-style massage ONLY) until we’ve all adjusted to the realities of the new administration.

It’s jarring, I know, to suddenly feel compelled to defend policies that are remarkably similar — if not identical — to the policies of former and unindicted President Bush, and I certainly feel for you as you tie yourselves into rhetorical knots with your friends and family — and as you make desperate rationalizations to yourself in the mirror — trying to explain just how radically different, say, the Department of Defense is when led by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates under President Obama from the way it was when led by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates under former and unindicted President Bush.

But I think there’s a lesson for all of us in Keith’s exploded head. That, along with Katie’s stroke and Andrew’s daffodils, reminds us that the world is a complicated and surprising place. Personally, I don’t have any trouble at all reconciling my past beliefs or enthusiasms with those of my present. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all one wonderful continuum. As I said once to Newt Gingrich years and years ago (or was it Al Gore? no matter), the thing about the past is, with enough money, you can make it go away. I hope that’s of some comfort to our (paid) contributors.

All the best,


Rob Long — Rob Long, Hollywood writer and producer, started his career as a screenwriter for the TV show Cheers. He is a regular writer for National Review, Newsweek International, and the Los ...

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