A series of emails between Arianna Huffington, her partners and the late conservative journalist Andrew Breitbart shed new light on the early days of The Huffington Post.
- Kickstarted: my conversation with Kickstarter founder Perry Chen
- Google leads $35M funding round for Machinima
- As 17 more states join class action against book publishers and Apple, new details revealed
The story of the site’s founding is the subject of a bitter lawsuit filed by two Democratic political advisers who claim Huffington blatantly stole their idea for a leftwing alternative to the conservative Drudge Report.
In October, a New York judge dismissed a number of claims but allowed Peter Daou and James Boyce, both former advisers to Presidential candidate John Kerry, to go forward with a state claim based on theft of an idea. The judge later allowed them to conduct document discovery of the defendants.
The discovery process produced a number of emails and minutes from meetings that are described in the amended complaint filed today.
The complaint argues that the emails help show that Huffington and her business partner Kenneth Lerer built the Huffington Post on a stolen idea and that they actively recruited others to help them implement it while stringing along Daou and Boyce:
Huffington and Lerer likewise were secretly communicating in December 2004 with a political activist named Andrew Breitbart in an effort to persuade Breitbart to participate, without Boyce and Daou [..] the timing of these discussions exposes Defendants’ fraudulent intentions, because Defendants were already in discussions with Breitbart about Plaintiffs’ ideas … at a time they were still pretending to be working with Plaintiffs. [...]
Breitbart’s “quick first email pass at the idea” identifies the very same two primary components of the website that Plaintiffs had previously identified for Huffington and Lerer: [...] This “quick idea” – which became The Huffington Post – is the very idea that was stolen from Boyce and Daou.
The late Breitbart was a prominent conservative journalist who, after falling out with Huffington, claimed that he “created the Huffington Post” and that “I drafted the plan. They followed the plan.”