Michael Arrington Bites Down On the AOL Hand That Feeds Him [Update]

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Photo: Noah Berger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

There's been plenty of jabs thrown since AOL bought Michael Arrington's blog, TechCrunch, back in September. But despite Arrington's bombastic personality, most of the blows so far have been between the founder and his former friend Jason Calacanis. Yesterday, however, Arrington, who remained more civil than Calacanis during the feud, decided, "for no apparent reason," says Business Insider, to redirect his ire at his new employer. Tuesday night, Arrington called Engadget, AOL's premier tech blog, "a plasticized caricature of a real blog," criticizing it for buying traffic through Google Adwords, something Engadget wasn't doing. According to insiders, Engadget is bigger and more important to AOL's page views, but AOL CEO Tim Armstrong "likes it because it has cachet with all of his inside friends." Both Engadget and TechCrunch are members of AOL's "Tech Town" subdivision, and the former just raked in crazy page views for its exhaustive coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show. (After the latest reorganization, each editorial unit got their own town.)

For his next random act of hostility, Arrington aimed a little higher up the food chain. In reference to AOL's decision not to sue a company called Salescrunch for infringing on his name, Arrington tweeted, "My guess is AOL rolls over on this whole salescrunch bullshit. Back in the day, though, I wouldn't have. pathetic." Since the subject of the tweet is AOL's response, not Salescrunch's name, it seems hard to read "pathetic" as referring to anything but the act of rolling over. Arrington disagreed. He told Business Insider that he was calling Salescrunch pathetic, adding, "AOL can be plodding and conservative, but they aren't pathetic by any means." Oh, to be a fly on the wall during his next performance preview. Actually, he'll probably get a pat on the back for changing the headlines.

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Update: The fun continues in Business Insider's comment section! Arrington, Business Insider's founder, Henry Blodget (who, it should be noted, has a vested interest in making his competitor look like a crank), and Engadget's editor-in-chief, Joshua Topolsky, continue to duke it just below the takedown. After claiming that the article was "irresponsible" and based on a misunderstood tweet, and that he wasn't trying to get fired, Arrington took aim at Engadget, while still managing a big swipe at Blodget for getting barred from securities trading for life for hyping Internet stocks for his own gain during the dot-com bubble. Says Arrington:

"The point I'm making is that my feelings for Engadget - that they're immensely unethical - doesn't go beyond that. They seem to have a problem with AOL management not quieting me. It's like telling mom when your brother is picking on you. They've trolled us, repeatedly, for a year. I've had enough.

Anyway, we're in the same business. You [Blodget] know and I know that this was way overreaching and will probably hurt some people at AOL. That's a shame. Having a moral compass is important, something I thought you learned a decade ago."

Blodget, who does his share of hyping Internet start-ups in our current burgeoning bubble, ignores the dig. But Topolsky responds: "My team works their collective ass off, and they deserve better than your baseless attacks and name calling. Grow up."