I think Yid with Lid is onto something here:
Four months ago, AOL gave to Arianna Huffington $315 million and the keys to its news operations as part of their purchase of her progressive internet behemoth. At the time I contended that the most significant news property to be controlled by the Huffington Post‘s progressive machine was the least known, Patch.com…
Patch was a non-partisan property in the pre-Huffington AOL universe, but immediately after the Puffer/AOL sale it started to look like its mission would creep. Its old mission was hyper-local coverage of mostly non-political topics, such as entertainment, restaurants, etc. Its new mission, however, is something else.
The timing couldn’t be better. Patch will provide an unprecedented infrastructure for citizen engagement in time for the 2012 presidential election, with a focus on community and local solutions. And it will exemplify our belief that a left/right approach to news and politics is outdated. Patch pages harbor no ideological or political slant. Which is not to say that we expect them to have no political content. Bloggers will be free to post their views on a range of subjects – from politics to entertainment to local issues. These features will allow Patch readers to instantly put a finger on the pulse of their community.
At least Arianna has freed us all to question the timing. So let’s get to it.
Soros tried something like a political Patch.com with American Independent Media. That effort was hubbed in Washington until the demise of the Washington Independent, but its real power lay in the network of liberal bloggers it sought to build at the local level, in many cases by paying them stipends for “internships” that amounted to getting trained up in the progressive blogger way. That strategy has, for the most part, failed. The Independent properties have been exposed as Sorosbots, and no one pays any attention to them. Their flagship shuttered in November, shortly after the progressive Waterloo known as the mid-term elections.
But here we are, with Huffington now in charge of Patch.com, and hinting that it’s ok to get political now. We’re six months past a massive progressive defeat, and 18 months from their next chance to regain some of their lost power and re-elect the Progressive in Chief. That’s plenty of time to encourage current Patch bloggers to shift their focus toward politics, and get some new ones trained up.