Peter Daou and James Boyce, two Democratic consultants, have filed suit in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against liberal media mogul Arianna Huffington, namesake of of The Huffington Post.
According to their suit, the plaintiffs allege that Huffington and partner Ken Lerer designed the Post website from a plan Daou and Boyce had presented them, claiming that Huffington violated a handshake agreement to work together and their intellectual property rights over the site.
Politico’s Ben Smith reports:
The complaint is a direct challenge to the left’s most important media property from two stalwarts of the progressive movement. And it challenges Huffington’s own oft-told story of coming up with the idea in conversation with Lerer and other friends.
“Huffington has styled herself as a ‘new media’ maven and an expert on the effective deployment of news and celebrity on the Internet in the service of political ends,” says the complaint. “As will be shown at trial, Huffington’s and Lerer’s image with respect to the Huffington Post is founded on false impressions and inaccuracies: They presented the ‘new media’ ideas and plans of Peter Daou and James Boyce as their own in order to raise money for the website and enhance their image, and breached their promises to work with Peter and James to develop the site together.”
In response, Huffington has called the charges “completely absurd” and a “ludicrous supposition,” claiming the men were disgruntled former job applicants she had turned down for work in the past.
“We have now officially entered into Bizzaro World. James Boyce and Peter Daou, two political operatives who we rejected going into business with or hiring 6 years ago, and who had absolutely nothing to do with creating, running, financing, or building the Huffington Post, now concoct some scheme saying they own part of the company,” she and Lerer said in a written statement to POLITICO, writing that the two “tried to cash in” before filing suit and “said they’d go away for just a little money.”
Huffington’s statement goes on to claim that Boyce and Daou have “been trying to extract money” from the website company “for months.”
But Boyce and Daou are standing by their suit.
They will, the two said in a statement, use any proceeds beyond legal fees and expenses “to support progressive causes and citizen journalists and bloggers who are active in support of those causes.”
“How noble,” Huffington and Lerer replied.