America Online yesterday featured an item on its main page about how men fake orgasms, recommending any male engaged in the practice should masturbate to help "discover what stimulates you."
The explicit item was splashed across the main screen on AOL's welcome page, which is immediately viewable to all who use the AOL service other than those registered as minors.
The headline, also featured on AOL's general website, seems to be the latest example of a change in the Internet company's content since AOL acquired the liberal Huffington Post, whose founder, Arianna Huffington, now serves as AOL's content boss.
The AOL welcome screen blasted a headline asking, "Do Men Fake Orgasms?" It linked to an article with the same title posted at Everydayhealth.com, which is AOL's health site.
The health site's subtitle read, "Ever wonder if his 'big O' was all a big show? Turns out, plenty of guys say they have faked an orgasm at least once. Here's why."
"If you think women are the only ones who bluff in the bedroom, think again: One in four men say they have faked an orgasm at some point in their sex lives," stated the article.
"For both men and women, faking orgasms seems to be tied to relationship troubleshooting – namely how one is perceived during and after sex."
The piece related, "Men who have faked it report using a combination of moaning, vocalizations, and changes in physical movements. And there could be a number of reasons behind the act."
For men to combat the issue, the site recommended consulting with a physician or therapist, or masturbating.
"Masturbate," urged the article. "Self-stimulation is recommended to help you discover what stimulates you. Next, share this information with your partner."
In February, AOL agreed to acquire the Huffington Post for $315 million, approximately $300 million of which was reportedly paid in cash and the rest in stock. It was AOL's largest acquisition since it was separated from Time Warner in 2009.
As part of the deal, Huffington was made editor-in-chief of AOL's 1,200-person newsroom.
"Arianna represents what the future will look like for social news," said AOL Chairman Tim Armstrong when the deal was first announced.
Since then, some have noticed a shift in AOL's content toward the Huffington Post's notorious liberal bent, with few headlines criticizing President Obama and Democrats.
Immediately following the acquisition, some critics were concerned about a change in AOL's content.
Fox and Friends, Fox News' popular morning show, featured a segment entitled "Liberal Takeover" asking whether Huffington's influence will push the site to the left politically.
A piece at the American Thinker opined the AOL-Huffington Post merger "destroys one media outlet that had plenty of conservative commentary and creates a potentially massive new liberal news portal that will reach as many as 100 million Americans a month."
Brent Bozell, publisher of Newsbusters, accused AOL of "sacrificing credibility and objectivity" in buying the Huffington Post.
"AOL News is fooling only itself in thinking there is no journalistic conflict in merging with a hate-filled, vicious, radically left-wing rag," he added.
In 2007, Bozell's Media Research Center released a study of the Huffington Post's content, documenting how the site engaged in an ongoing campaign of profanity, crude sexual metaphors and hate speech against conservatives.
For her part, Huffington denied she would turn AOL's content liberal. Asked about the accusation in an interview Bill Maher's HBO show in February, Huffington replied:
"This is so funny, such a red herring. First of all 95 percent of all the content on Huffpo is about entertainment, lifestyle and information. Not about politics."
Ever since Huffington became AOL's content chief, there have been reports of dissent among the ranks in her newsroom.
In a lengthy piece, Forbes magazine quoted former Huffington Post chief revenue officer Greg Coleman implying Huffington may be in over her head.
Coleman described the Huffington as "a world-class politician, a world-class media maven and a genius at p.r., but she's not an experienced manager."
Continued Coleman: "I know Arianna very well. She wanted three things: a big bag of gold, a big fat contract, which she deserved, and … unilateral decision-making over her world. And that is where you’re going to have some problems. Arianna hates to be managed."
MediaBistro featured a piece entitled, "Top Six Reasons Why Arianna Huffington Will Be AOL's Undoing."
The site points out AOL has been spending about $40 million a quarter without generating meaningful revenue. It also charges Armstrong "may have overestimated Huffington's importance to the operation" while claiming Huffington was having problems managing AOL News.
Business Insider came up with 12 reasons "why the AOL-Huffington Post merger is going down in flames."
Among its criticisms:
- "The editorial team is miserable and views Arianna as unpredictable and her leadership unsteady."
- "New site launches, like AOL Healthy Living, are little more than Huffington Post channels and very poor quality The real URL is www.huffingtonpost.com/aolhealthyliving – it is a joke."
- "Several senior execs are actively positioning themselves and their businesses for the eventual private equity takeover – few have confidence this will work."