All hail Arianna, queen of blogs
Arianna Huffington, founder of the, the nation's top political blog, talks about the 2008 presidential race and the need to trust our leaders.
By Patricia Sellers, Fortune Magazine

(Fortune Magazine) -- When Arianna Huffington collected $2.5 million from eight friends to create a website in May 2005, it seemed unlikely that she'd ever turn a profit. But the Huffington Post drew 2.3 million unique visitors in June, making it the top political blog. Her operation has started to break even, and she is just now closing a $5 million round of financing led by Softbank.

The Greek-born newsmaker, who spent years pushing right-wing causes before a lefty run for governor of California in 2003, was on a roll when Fortune's Patricia Sellers stopped by her hip downtown Manhattan office to chat about Hollywood, the Huffington brand, and the 2008 race for President.

Arianna Huffington

Nice art in here. What's the style?

It's a combination of Sotheby's (Charts) and Ikea. Kind of like my politics, my world--it's a mix of studio heads and bloggers.

You've blasted Hollywood execs for failing to censure Mel Gibson.

What got me going was Ari Emanuel's blog. He called me on Sunday, wrote his blog in half an hour, and we posted it instantly and sent it to Yahoo (Charts) News. Thousands of people e-mailed it around. Fifty more bloggers weighed in: Bill Maher, Al Franken, Alec Baldwin, Nora Ephron, David Mamet.

You don't pay your bloggers to write, do you?

No, we don't. We offer them visibility and ease and immediacy. We have 750 bloggers, who write when they want to.

What's been your biggest challenge?

Me being a self-judgmental perfectionist. It's so draining. I want a team working 24 hours a day. We have a four-hour gap, with no one on duty from 3 to 7 A.M.

Will the Huffington Post become a portal?

Definitely. In September we're launching Politics Aside, a site about everything except politics - relationships, mothering, sex, book reviews, movie reviews.

How do you view the '08 presidential race?

I can't think of an election more important than this one, with the world in such a volatile state. On the Democratic side, it will be Hillary vs. the non-Hillary - whoever captures the public's imagination on the war in Iraq. Not a peacenik -someone willing to engage in the war on terror without sending America on imperial adventures. The most likely guy, hands down, is Al Gore. He says he has no plans to run, but things could change.

And on the Republican side?

John McCain vs. the non - John McCain. It may be a right-wing conservative like George Allen or Bill Frist. Or a dark horse like Chuck Hagel.

Would you vote for Hillary Clinton?

I'd love nothing more than to vote for a woman. But this country needs an authentic leader, not someone who watches every word for maximum political advantage. We need to trust our leaders.


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