Verizon, the surveillance state-friendly communications giant, declared Tuesday that it will acquire AOL with the goal of expanding its video offerings. But the onetime king of media, as The New York Times so affectionately calls AOL Inc., in its report on the Verizon deal, comes with much more than just videos; it comes with one of the biggest left-leaning websites online, The Huffington Post.

It’s no secret that AOL and HuffPo have had a fraught relationship practically from the get-go. Just take a look at what The Guardian’s Michael Wolff wrote early in 2013, after AOL CEO Tim Armstrong was caught on tape throwing a fit about his local-news project, Patch:

It is no longer a technology company or, in any significant sense, part of the digital world. AOL is, the company sometime maintains, an ad-driven digital media company — in a world where no such thing has ever proven to be successful.

Its one foot forward has been the acquisition of the Huffington Post, which, while hardly a financial advance, nevertheless made AOL one of the more important news outlets in America. Unfortunately for Armstrong, almost since AOL’s acquisition, Huffington Post founder and namesake Arianna Huffington has rather openly been planning for its exit, with Huffington and Armstrong operating as parallel entities within AOL.

So, now, what happens to AOL?

That’s one of those peculiar existential questions that could have been asked about the company at any point since 2000. It exists, practically speaking, by no one’s design or intentions. It goes on because it exists, but without any real hope that it will ever exactly justify its existence.

While Wolff’s question about “what happens to AOL” has been answered with Verizon’s cash offer, another relevant question remains: Is now — as the company that acquired HuffPo is being bought by the corporation that handed over millions of users’ data to the National Security Agency — the time for Arianna Huffington to make her great escape?

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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