Nationally syndicated columnist and author Arianna Huffington to speak at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts


Arianna Huffington, an outspoken syndicated columnist and author who is leading the much-talked about Detroit Project against gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles, will speak on Wednesday, May 28, at 7:30 p.m. at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Huffington's lecture is part of Open VISIONS Forum, a program of University College at Fairfield University, and is sponsored, in part, through generous support from and The Patrick J. Waide, Jr. Fund for Ethics and Public Policy and WSHU-FM. Huffington will sign copies of her latest book, "Pigs at the Trough: How Corporate Greed and Political Corruption are Undermining America," after the program.

Once known for praising former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and boosting her then husband Michael's Republican Senate bid, Huffington has, in recent years, become one of the country's leading liberal voices. Her wit, tenacity and often blistering style of commentary have made her a sought-after guest on the talk show and lecture circuit.

"I would call myself a progressive populist," Huffington told Publishers Weekly of her political leanings. "I think the main thrust of my writing is populist. My outrage comes out of the fact that I believe we're living in two nations. Different rules apply to these two nations. The game is increasingly rigged."

Born in Greece in 1950, Huffington was the child of a self-educated mother and a father who had survived a German concentration camp and published an underground newspaper. At 16, she saw a magazine article about Cambridge University and, though she knew nothing more about the prestigious school, she applied, won a scholarship and moved to London with her mother and younger sister.

Huffington's thirst for knowledge and love of a spirited discussion took root during her college years: She graduated with a master's degree in economics and, at 21, was president of the Cambridge Union, the school's famed debating society.

Huffington freely admits her first two books, "The Female Woman" (Random House, 1974) and "After Reason" (Stein & Day, 1978), did not set the world on fire. But, after taking advice from a publisher who told her to work on her storytelling skills, she produced "Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend" (Simon & Schuster, 1981), which quickly became an international bestseller. She followed that with "The Gods of Greece" (republished by Atlantic Monthly Press, 1993), a look at the power of myths, and "Pablo Picasso: Creator and Destroyer" (Simon & Schuster, 1988), another bestseller later turned into the Merchant-Ivory film "Surviving Picasso" starring Anthony Hopkins.

During the 1996 presidential campaign, Huffington, who lives in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, teamed with comedian/commentator Al Franken to provide political coverage for cable TV's Comedy Central. She and Franken appeared in a popular point-counterpoint segment called Strange Bedfellows on "Politically Incorrect" with Bill Maher. Huffington has also appeared on "Larry King Live," "Oprah," "Charlie Rose," "Crossfire," "Hardball," "48 Hours" and many other talk shows.

Her latest books, the Clinton administration-inspired "Greetings from the Lincoln Bedroom" (Crown, 1998), "How to Overthrow the Government" (Regan Books, 2001), and "Pigs at the Trough" (Crown, 2003) have brought Huffington back to her original love: politics and public policy. She also shares her views in a twice-weekly syndicated newspaper column and a syndicated show on National Public Radio.

"As only she can, Arianna breathes energy and passion into the reform agenda," Republican Senator John McCain said of "Pigs at the Trough." "A withering, breathtaking, quintessentially controversial book that will inspire, inflame and educate."

In addition to her writing, Huffington works for political and social change by serving on the boards of several organizations. They include: The Points of Light Foundation, an organization inspired by former President George Bush, for which she chairs the communications committee; the Do Something organization that challenges young people to work for social change; A Place Called Home, which helps at-risk children in South Central Los Angeles; and the advisory board of the Graduate School of Political Management at George Washington University.

Huffington also heads up The Detroit Project, a highly publicized ad campaign aimed at America's sport utility vehicle owners. Parodying the government's anti-drug campaign that links drug use with aiding terrorists, the campaign targets owners of America's gas-guzzlers.

Huffington believes the satirical ads, which some networks have refused to air, point out the hypocrisy she sees at the highest levels of American government. And she believes she's not alone in her views.

"I'm optimistic," she told a reporter recently. "I believe this is an amazing moment where a lot of things are happening underground and politicians are missing that moment. They react to little eruptions here and there, but they are not leading it. The next book I want to do is 'The Leader in the Mirror,' because I believe that this is the time for all of us to acknowledge the leader in the mirror. We need to grow up, to stop waiting for the knight on the white horse to save us."

Huffington's speech is funded, in part, by WSHU Public Radio Group, a not-for-profit, member-supported station that brings the best in public broadcasting to more than 199,600 listeners in Connecticut and Long Island. WSHU airs quality NPR programs, such as "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered" and "Car Talk," as well as locally produced classical music programming and in-depth news. In the Fairfield and Westport area, WSHU can be heard at 91.1 FM and 1260 AM.

Tickets to Huffington's talk are $18, with discounts available for senior citizens and students. For tickets, call the Quick Center box office at (203) 254-4010 or toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396. For more information, visit the website, www.quickcenter.com.

Bookmark and Share

Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 14, 2003

Vol. 35, No. 260