Media, politics and culture.
Just one day after an RT anchor spoke out against Russia’s invasion of Crimea, a second anchor closed her show Wednesday by denouncing the same aggression, among other actions, and quitting right on the air. Then both of them appeared on CNN to explain and defend their moves.
RT, formerly Russia Today, is widely available on cable in the United States and in 100 countries abroad. It’s funded by the Russian government and rarely strays from the official line.
Probably by now you’ve read and heard a good deal about the first anchor, Abby Martin, and if not, you can catch up here. In short order, after her critique, RT said it would send her to Crimea to maybe learn more about what the troops from the home country were doing there, a kind offer she immediately refused. Then many media outlets, including The New York Times, published pieces on Martin’s history as a 9/11 “truther.” In any case, she was back on the air the next day.
Then the second anchor/reporter, Liz Wahl, dropped her bombshell, and went further (see video below). She said she can’t work for a TV network that “whitewashes the actions of Putin.” Many in the US applauded, while some pointed out that she had to know where the RT funding was coming from all this time.
Wahl, interviewed by The Daily Beast, claimed she’d been “disgusted” by what she had to report. While trying to stay “objective” she’s often been overruled by superiors. “It actually makes me feel sick that I worked there,” Wahl said. “It’s not a sound news organization, not when your agenda is making America look bad.”
She then went on CNN’s Anderson Cooper show (watch) and detailed pressure from management—and just today she had part of her interview with Ron Paul cut. As a reporter you need to “seek the truth,” she said, but RT is “not out for the truth” (though she knew that when she signed on) and merely “Putinist.”
Asked how RT will likely respond, she said she hadn’t seen an “official response.”
Well, she didn’t have to wait long. RT responded to Anderson Cooper’s people, who posted it on his site. Excerpt: “When a journalist disagrees with the editorial position of his or her organization, the usual course of action is to address those grievances with the editor, and, if they cannot be resolved, to quit like a professional. But when someone makes a big public show of a personal decision, it is nothing more than a self-promotional stunt.”
Wahl then went on on Piers Morgan’s CNN show and again accused RT of presenting “Putinist propaganda.” Piers asked why she went to work for RT to begin with. She replied, “That’s a very good question.” (No kidding.) She said she didn’t think there would be that much “propaganda” and “pressure.” Asked if she thinks Abby Martin should quit, she demured, saying Martin is allowed to speak out—because her “line” in her show is one RT likes (and can count on her backing).
Then Abby Martin went on Piers’s show and said she backs whatever Wahl chooses to do but she is not tempted to quit. Claiming she has full “independence,” she accused all of the TV networks in the US of being just as compliant with US policy and officials. “Corporate media” in US is no different than government-funded network, she claimed. Piers pushed back just a bit, suggesting that he spoke out often against US policy.
Well, Abby Martin has a point, to be sure, but apparently did not watch MSNBC in the final years of the Bush reign or Fox News every night of Obama’s two terms. Roll the video tape: Let’s see a few examples of more than a sliver of Putin criticism on RT (before this week).
The better point is how the American networks have gone along with so many US official lies and other nonsense—when, unlike RT, they didn’t really have to.
UPDATE Lengthy, and angry, response posted at RT.com by the network’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan. After hitting the US media reaction, it concludes:
I can see very clearly why I continue to work for a channel that stands alone (!) face-to-face with thousands and tens of thousands of Western news outlets, showing everybody the other side of the story, under daily attacks from the media against which it can hardly fight back. It’s my country. There is no other choice for me. But the foreign journalists who work for RT across the globe do have a choice. Some of them might be asking themselves, “Why would I have to defend Russia at the expense of my career, my future, my reputation, why would I tolerate humiliation by my fellow journalists?” Few can say “Because I’m telling the truth, and there’s no one else to tell it.” Some will fail to find the answer and quietly resign. Others will perform their resignation on air in a self-promotional stunt, perhaps securing fantastic career prospects they wouldn’t have dreamt of before.
By the way, CNN is now covering the leaked phone call on speculation about the deadly snipers in Kiev mentioned in the post.
Read Next: Stephen Cohen on how the American media misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine
CNN has just announced an upcoming eight-part original series starting this Sunday on the death penalty in America, with award-winning, and tireless, documentary film maker Alex Gibney and some guy named Robert Redford as executive producers, plus Susan Sarandon (let’s not forget her role as Sister Helen Prejean in the great Dead Man Walking) as narrator.
That sounds like a good thing, and echoes my two books on the subject, including this recent ebook, Dead Reckoning.
Gibney promises, “The series provides stark examples of the struggle between the powerful and the powerless. The stakes—life or death—couldn’t be higher.”
Each show will spotlight one particular controversial case with guilt and innocence at stake. Here’s how they describe this Sunday’s opener:
Edward Lee Elmore, a 23-year-old African-American handyman, was charged with the murder of a well-to-do white woman in Greenwood, S.C., in 1982. The jury spent less than three hours deliberating before finding Elmore guilty of capital murder. It was not until a legal intern named Diana Holt investigated his case for the defense team that startling new evidence of his innocence began to emerge. The episode follows Holt and Elmore as the defense team embarks on a roller coaster ride through the criminal justice system, discovering negligence and cover-ups all along the way.
Ashleigh Banfield is doing a “Google Hangout” tonight at 6 pm with Gibney and others.
As I predicted in my book, the number of executions has been declining in many states as more “innocence” cases emerge, problems with obtaining the lethal injection drugs increase, and life-without-parole spreads as a credible alternative. But polls still show fairly strong support for capital punishment among the American public and the practice shows no signs of disappearing here.
The Code Pink co-founder is apparently in Turkey today, after millions learned—via her tweets—that she had spent a day in a cold Egyptian jail pen.
Medea Benjamin claimed abuse at the hands of her captors, leading to a broken arm or other arm/shoulder injury.
She had managed nevertheless to tweet a photo of her jail quarters, even of the food served to the group of women there, who had moaned all night, distressed or ill. (See @MedeaBenjamin). Her final tweet last night: “Help. They broke my arm. Egypt police,”
Now comes word that she has been deported—to Turkey. CBS confirms the story in this dispatch:
Benjamin said she was detained upon arrival in Cairo, where she was meant to join a delegation and then travel to the Palestinian territory of Gaza for a women’s conference.
Her plea for help was apparently answered by the U.S. Embassy, which confirmed to CBS News’ Alex Ortiz that Benjamin had left the country after the embassy provided consular assistance.
CODEPINK tweeted that she has been deported to Turkey.
Egypt’s government has cracked down harshly in recent years on opposition members, arresting dozens of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Several international journalists have also been arrested and held on terror accusations for merely speaking to members of Morsi’s now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.
However, CodePink takes issues with some of the early reports, including my own, that the US consular office provided aid. In a tweet to me this afternoon, they relate, “The claim that the US embassy helped
@medeabenjamin is totally false; they didn’t answer her calls or visit her in distress.”
And then: “Update:
@medeabenjamin is in Istanbul, where she was deported to, headed to hospital to receive treatment for shoulder. Flying to US tonight.”
Read Next: Steven Hsieh: “Marissa Alexander Now Faces 60 Years in Prison for Firing a Warning Shot in Self Defense”
As others at The Nation and elsewhere have observed over the past two weeks, the Ukraine political conflict (not to mention history) is complex, and one should be wary of black and white portrayals in the American media and via US officials and members of Congress. This applies as well to RT (formerly Russia Today) television and RT.com, which have a following among some on the US left and many others.
RT, of course, is funded by the federal budget of Russia through the Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation. According to its Wikipedia page, it currently reaches the homes of 85 million in the United States, making it the foreign channel with the second-highest penetration here (after the BBC). It also goes out to over 600 million in 100 other countries, they say.
Just for fun, here are all of the Ukraine-related headlines on their site at present:
And, on the op-ed page:
The West organized the coup in Ukraine and they can make this very ugly, but there is no chance of Russia being able to back down, Danny Welch, blogger and anti-war activist, told RT.
Read Next: Nicolai N. Petro’s take on the situation in Ukraine.
As the crisis in Ukraine deepens, media commentators and members of Congress are returing to Cold War rhetoric on nuclear weapons, calling for a halt to already-negotiated cutbacks in the massive U.S. arsenal and/or extending the reach of our nuclear umbrella to Kiev. Sen. Marco Rubio on 'Meet the Press" called for expanding our so-called "missile shield" defense.
Still, it's worth remembering that it could be much worse. No nukes is good news, in Ukraine.
Remember that when the Soviet Union broke up, several of the breakaway republics took with them some of Mother Russia’s nukes. Ukraine had many of them, the biggest budget and a lot of animosity toward Russia. But somehow, with our help, they gave them up. Bill Maher even shoved this fact down the throat of Bill Kristol last night on his HBO show when Kristol disparaged diplomacy.
The terrific Amy Davidson of The New Yorker reviews the history here.
It was not obvious where all these missiles would end up, particularly not in the case of Ukraine, which was stronger than the others and more sharply at odds with Russia; it thought it might find better friends. (Steven Pifer, of the Brookings Institution, has a useful review.) The new Ukrainian government also thought that Russia was not negotiating in good faith (from a certain perspective, it had absconded with Ukraine’s tactical warheads). Russia, meanwhile, suggested that the Ukrainians were not decent stewards of the weapons: they didn’t know how to take care of them, and they would deteriorate and turn into public hazards—“much worse than Chernobyl,” the Russian Foreign Minister said at the time. The disaster at Chernobyl had given the Ukrainians a look at a nuclear accident; it had also underscored a sense that Moscow was neglectful and mendacious. They also knew that I.C.B.M.s, even if they had no use for them, contained highly enriched uranium that was extremely valuable. And Ukraine needed money. In September, 1993, the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine fell apart.
The United States could have approached this in any number of ways. One might have been heedlessly, without a full understanding of the danger—gleeful about the spectacle, and glad to see the inheritors of the Soviet Union dispossessed of a few more bombs. We could have helped keep Ukraine a nuclear power, thinking that it would make the country, in some way, ours. Or we could have been excessively fearful, and supported Moscow’s contention that the Ukrainians had no right to these things, anyway, encouraging them to just go in and take them. This might have made the dissolution of the Soviet Union look a lot more like a civil war, in which our position was ambiguous. We could have postured, and lost the Cold War peace.
Instead, we offered two things…
Read on to see what happened. And see a full report by a Brookings expert here.
Then Davidson concludes:
What are the lessons for the current crisis, other than to be abjectly relieved that we don’t live in a world where nuclear weapons are even more loosely held than they are? One is to not disparage diplomacy, or treat it as a lesser form of foreign policy, or to think that there is no place for a calm middle. Another is to remember how human and fallible the actors are, and how much listening and getting a sense of their interests can help.
Read Next: Nation in the News: Stephen Cohen: The US Should Promote a Stable and United Ukraine.
To no one’s surprise (I hope)—after the uproar over Max Blumenthal’s Goliath—a book often critical of Israel has provoked a strong backlash and set frequent allies against one another. This time it revolves around the pro-Israel stronghold—at least under former owner Marty Peretz and before the arrival of new boss Chris Hughes—of The New Republic.
Of course, the David Horowitzs of the world had already labeled the book Genesis by John Judis as betraying hatred for Israel and even support for, yes, the Nazis. There were several developments yesterday. After Ron Radosh had attacked the book, Leon Wieseltier, a colleague of Judis at The New Republic, sent Radosh a note going even further; the note was happily published by a right-wing site. This is just one blast:
I know with certainty that Judis’ understanding of Jewish history, and of the history and nature of Zionism, is shallow, derivative, tendentious, imprecise, and sometimes risibly inaccurate—he is a tourist in this subject. Like most tourists, he sees what he came to see…. Remember Rosa Luxemburg’s letter to her friend in which she proudly announced that she had no corner of her heart for the Jews? Judis is her good disciple.
Of course, Wieseltier has proudly picked fights for other staffers before, but he is now the last of the Old Guard there.
This latest hit provoked Peter Beinart (who has been attacked himself for some of his recent musings on Israel) to tweet: “john judis is an old, dear friend of mine. don’t agree w/ him on everything but will stand w/ him when unfairly attacked.” Andrew Sullivan hit Wieseltier here. Excerpt:
These are not arguments; they are insults. And they are as disgusting as they are entirely unsurprising. A simple question: is there an editor at The New Republic capable of preventing this kind of vicious anti-collegial invective? Not when it comes to Wieseltier, it seems. Chris Hughes and Frank Foer seem to answer to him, and not the other way round.
Jacob Heilbrunn (himself a former Wieseltier colleague) does much the same at The National Interest.
The truth is that hysterical petulance is at the bottom of much of Wieseltier’s fulgurations. The contrast between the lofty principles that intellectuals such as Wieseltier purport to espouse and the childish sniping is what emerges most conspicuously in his latest fusillade. In the end, the stakes aren’t really that high and, in any case, until recent decades many Jewish intellectuals were, more often than not, indifferent to Israel (Lionel Trilling) or dubious about it. Now Judis has written a mildly critical account that is triggering a furor. That his detractors would respond so extravagantly and violently may say more about their dispositions than his.
Max Blumenthal noted in a tweet: “Judis says Museum of Jewish Heritage has reinvited him to June 1 appearance—after rescinding invite under pressure.”
Judis then replied himself in a piece at The New Republic titled “Conservative Critics Say My New Israel Book Is Anti-Semitic. They Must Not Have Read It Very Closely.”
I have to admit that I found it disturbing that after reading one of these reviews, an old friend called to ask me whether in my book I really advocated the abolition of Israel. The fact is that I don’t believe in the abolition of Israel, nor in half the things that these reviewers have attributed to me.…
[M]any states, including the United States, are products of settler colonialism and conquest. There is no going back in these cases. What Israel’s early history does suggest, though, is that Palestinian Arabs have a legitimate grievance against Israelis that has never been satisfactorily addressed. It won’t be addressed by abolishing Israel—that’s not going to happen—but it can be addressed by an equitable two-state solution that gives both peoples a state and that opens the way for Israel’s reconciliation with its neighbors. If there is a lesson to Genesis—and I happen to believe that history can tell us things about the present—that’s what it is.
Ray Davies, one of my musical heroes dating back to the Kinks half a century ago, always championed working-class struggles, going back to “Dead End Street.” Chrissie Hynde, frontwoman for the Pretenders, has long been in the forefront of animal rights and anti-fur protests. So it’s not exactly shocking that their daughter, Natalie Hynde, 29, was arrested last summer in a unique anti-fracking protest in England.
The 32-year-old, along with 55-year-old Simon Medhurst, had superglued themselves together around the drill site’s gate on July 31 to create a “striking and symbolic” media image, according to the BBC, to raise awareness about fracking (a technique to fracture shale rock and retrieve natural gasses within). Hynde and Medhurst both denied wrongdoing.
Despite their claims, a judge said the pair “went beyond reasonable freedom of speech.” Furthermore, district magistrate William Ashworth said that Hynde and Medhurst did beset the site “in the true meaning of the word” because they had blocked access to it. The blockade cost the drilling firm Cuadrilla £5,000 ($8,300). Hynde was given a twelve-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £400 and a £15 “victim surcharge”; Medhurst was told to pay £200 and a £20 victim surcharge.
But it could have been differently disruptive: Hynde said her original plan was to dig a tunnel at the site. Instead, she tried superglue because it was easier. “I wanted it to look peaceful, with the hands around the gate, and superglue seemed fast,” she said. “I hadn’t done it either, so I thought it would be a good thing to try.” She did not know how long the fixative would hold. “If it did [obstruct access to the site], then great,” Hynde said. “That wasn’t the intention.”
Hynde, a longtime activist, said that simply waving a placard this time wouldn’t get them anywhere. She was arrested one year ago after chaining herself to a tree in a protest against construction of a controversial new road.
Davies and Hynde never married. There are many famous offspring of rock stars and models, actors, actresses, even writers, but I can’t think of another daughter of two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members (let me know if you do).
Here’s an excerpt from Natalie Hynde’s piece in The Guardian:
Getting arrested for taking part in direct action at Balcombe was the most liberating experience I’ve ever had. Nothing I’ve ever done in my life has made me feel so empowered and alive.
Anyone can Google the “List of the Harmed” or look at the Shalefield Stories detailing what’s happened to people in the US as a result of fracking—the nosebleeds, the cancers, the spontaneous abortions in livestock, the seizures and silicosis in the worker’s lungs. Not to mention the farming revenue lost from sick and dying cattle. When you have exhausted all other channels of democratic process—written letters, gone on marches and signed petitions—direct action seems the only way left to get your voice heard…
A lot of us want the moratorium that was lifted in 2012 to be reinstated—due to new evidence and significant Royal Society/RIE recommendations not having been followed. We’ve already had two earthquakes in Blackpool and the property market in the town has tanked as a result of the fracking. In the exploratory drilling process, the range of chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, pose a massive threat if they escape from the well. All wells leak eventually—6% of gas wells leak immediately and 50% of all gas wells leak within 15 years….
We need an outright ban on fracking—or at the very least, a moratorium.
Read Next: Chris Hayes profiles the Exxon CEO suing to keep fracking out of his backyard.
Today marks one of the most momentous nights in 1960s history. No, not another Beatles performance on Ed Sullivan but young Cassius Clay (already one of my boyhood heroes) whipping aging bad man Sonny Liston to take the heavyweight crown in a huge upset—paving the way for his decades at the forefront of American sports and culture and politics.
Yes, the Beatles visited him earlier in his training camp in Miami Beach for a much-publicized photo op. But the most amazing meeting was the coming together, in a modest hotel in a black neighborhood back in Miami after the fight—starring new heavyweight champ Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown (the greatest football player ever and Sam Cooke (possibly the finest singer of our time). Now that’s a line-up that tops even the Fab Four. Also in attendance: a certain undercover FBI agent.
Clay was about to announce his membership in the “black Muslims” and get a name change. Malcolm was about to get kicked out of that faith, despite (or partly because of) his friendship with Clay, and then make his epic trip to Mecca. Brown was getting more and more outspoken on race. And Sam Cooke was about to record a single with Ali—and write “A Change Gonna Come.” Within a little more than a year, Cooke and Malcolm would be dead.
But on that night, as Peter Guralnick writes:
They sat in Malcolm’s room with Osman Karriem and various Muslim ministers and supporters, eating vanilla ice cream and offering up thanks to Allah for Cassius’ victory, as an undercover FBI informant took note of this apparent nexus between the Nation of Islam and prominent members of the sports and entertainment industries. Sam was uncharacteristically quiet, taking in the magnificent multiplicity of the moment. To him, Cassius was not just a great entertainer but a kindred soul. He had made beating Liston look easy, and Sam was convinced he would beat him again. Because, armed with an analytic intelligence, he had made him afraid.
Jim Brown, an outspoken militant himself, though not a member of the Nation, appeared to veteran black sports reporter Brad Pye Jr. to be more elated over Clay’s achievement than any of his own. “Well, Brown,” said Malcolm with a mixture of seriousness and jocularity, “don’t you think it’s time for this young man to stop spouting off and get serious?”
That is exactly what Cassius did at a pair of press conferences he held in the two days following the fight. He was a Muslim, he said. “There are seven hundred fifty million people all over the world who believe in it, and I’m one of them.” He wasn’t a Christian. How could he be, “when I see all the colored people fighting for forced integration get blowed up… . I’m the heavyweight champion, but right now, there are some neighborhoods I can’t move into….
I’m going to add to this story over the next hour. For now, let me direct you to this lengthy excerpt from Guralnick’s excellent biography of Cooke, which covers that night and the aftermath.
And here’s a clip from the opening of the Hollywood film Ali, with Will Smith in the starring role and a Sam Cooke character singing in a Miami nightclub that week—which actually happened and was immortalized on one of the great live albums ever, Live at the Harlem Club. Below that, the scene in the ring that night as Ali welcomes Cooke to his celebration. Finally, a clip of Malcolm talking with and about Ali in the aftermath.
Read Next: Katrina vanden Heuvel: &ldqou;This Week in ‘Nation’ History: Want to Know What NAFTA Teaches Us About the TPP Fight?”
Just over two weeks ago, The New York Times published a profile of Wendy Davis, candidate for Texas governor, in its Sunday magazine. It was written by Robert Draper, a longtime contributor and native Texan. By then it had already sparked controversy, as it had been posted on the paper’s web site days earlier, along with its cover. Actually, it was the cover that drew the most comment.
I reviewed the critiques in a piece here, quoting everyone from Connie Schultz to Katha Pollitt. The cover photo was a typical (for the magazine) horrid close-up, but male politicians have suffered the same treatement—remember the remarkably horse-faced Mark Warner? It was the cover line that seemed to many most clichéd, outdated and offensive: “Can Wendy Davis Have It All?” Underneath were references to “ambition” and “motherhood.” Not to mention “mythmaking.”
As for the piece itself, Eric Boehlert tweeted: “profile of Wendy Davis so disheartending. virtually NO DISCUSSION of policy. all bio/family/custody etc. unthinkable for male.”
To no one’s surprise, the Times’s fine public editor, Margaret Sullivan, explored the criticisms in her column yesterday. And in a rare move, Draper has criticized Sullivan’s take.
A few highlights from Sullivan:
When an article sets out to examine gender bias, how can it avoid perpetuating that bias along the way? Despite its well-intentioned efforts, this piece managed to trip over a double standard with its detailed examination of Ms. Davis’s biography, including her role in raising her two daughters.
For many women, this relentless second-guessing hits hard and cuts deep. We take it personally, for good reason: In our society, there may be no more damaging wound than being found wanting in the good-mother department—and no career achievement can salve it.
Beginning the reader’s experience with the outdated “Have It All” headline didn’t help, nor did the subheadline: “A Texas-Size Tale of Ambition, Motherhood and Political Mythmaking,” which comes close to suggesting that Ms. Davis is spinning a big lie. Together, they curdle the piece that follows. A description in the second paragraph of Ms. Davis’s “fitted black dress and high heels” and her omnipresent half smile does little to ease the reader’s suspicions.
The article itself has much to commend it: engaging writing, thorough reporting and a native Texan’s understanding of his subject matter. It mostly steers intelligently and perceptively through the gender issues, but when it picks apart her history as a mother so insistently, it veers off the road. Reportorial due diligence is one thing; reinforcing a sexist standard is quite another.
I’m not sure what The Times’s next major article on a female politician will be. But I’m hopeful that not only will it avoid strange planetary depictions and ’70s-era catchphrases, but also that it will rise above gender-based double standards, leaving them where they belong: in the dust of history.
Draper responded quickly on Facebook:
I don’t agree with Margaret—I think when a politician calculatedly runs on his/her life story & the representation of that story proves to be inaccurate, reporters are required to examine that story in detail, else they become complicit in the narrative-shading. (She also misrepresents the viewpoint of Rebecca Traister, seeming to suggest Rebecca found fault with my piece when she didn’t.) Still, reasonable minds can disagree on this, and I appreciate her even-tempered critique of a story that apparently caused heads of all denominations to explode.
I asked Sullivan for a response but she has declined for now. One of the commenters on her piece, however, posted a link to a Draper farewell to George W. Bush when he was about to leave the White House, which focused on his “human decency.”
Draper then added a Comment to his original Facebook post:
There’s no question that if the art dept. had gone with a glam shot, we would’ve rightfully caught hell for it. That said, on a certain level it’s kind of weird that so much scrutiny for gender bias has been devoted to a story that, far more than any other previous to it, unambiguously portrays her as a person of intelligence, accomplishment & substance (rather than just an icon or cartoon). But what the hell—I did my scrutinizing, so others are free to do the same.
Read Next: Dave Zirin: “At Long Last, Jason Collins Is First”
Matt Taibbi, a favorite of Nation (and other) readers for several years thanks to his hard-hitting, but often humorous, reporting on the crooks and “squids” of Wall Street, and their DC cronies, for venerable Rolling Stone, announced today he was joining First Look. That’s the new media project from Pierre Omidiyar, which has already attracted the likes of Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras.
He will head the financial/economic team and produce the second digital magazine. Greenwald, Scahill and others launched the first, The Intercept, related to the NSA/Snowden leaks and privacy/security concerns earlier this month.
Taibbi’s farewell to Rolling Stone is here. (He learned of his big career break while walking in my native Niagara Falls.) See links to some of his “greatest hits” below. The First Look release is here and includes:
Taibbi will help assemble a top-notch team of journalists and bring his trademark combination of reporting, analysis, humor and outrage to the ongoing financial crisis—and to the political machinery that makes it possible. The magazine will launch later this year.
Taibbi comes to First Look from Rolling Stone, where he served as a contributing editor for the past 10 years. During his tenure, he built a large and devoted following that has grown to rely on his in-depth and irreverent reporting on Wall Street and Washington. Whether busting Goldman Sachs for market manipulation or revealing the hidden roots of the student loan crisis, Taibbi has exposed and explained the most complicated financial scandals of the day with a fresh and compelling approach to journalism that has enraged and inspired millions of readers.
“Matt is one of the most influential journalists of our time,” said Eric Bates, executive editor of First Look Media. “His incisive explorations of the financial crisis—and Wall Street’s undue influence over our political system—have played a key role in helping to inform the public and transform the national debate. He is a journalist who can explain what a credit default swap is and why it’s important—and, make you bust out laughing while he’s doing it. I look forward to having him on our team and helping him launch a dynamic new site unlike any other.”
Just this week I posted an item on Taibbi’s latest piece at my blog. “The Loophole That Ate the World,” as we put it, in describing his angle. Earlier, Taibbi on “advocacy journalists” (that is, all of them). How the bailouts created a “Ponzi scheme.” Of course, we enjoyed it when he went after David Brooks. Then there was his take on a Thomas Friedman sex tape.
Read Next: Nation in the News Stephen Cohen: In Kiev, We Can’t Ignore the Fascist Minority.