Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi Joins List of Accused Sex Harassers

December 17th, 2017 9:53 PM

The names being added to the list of accused sex harassers in the media and politics have been increasing so fast and furious that it seems you only have to wait a minute until a new name is added. Since we just added Chris Matthews to the list, it's worth reminding everyone that one of the first journalists was Matt Taibbi of the Rolling Stone.

Taibbi's misbehavior first caught notice in late October when past statements were resurrected in which he bragged about being a sexual predator. And now, we have someone speaking out about how Taibbi's statements were anything but fake news.

Matt's accuser is Washington Post correspondent Kathy Lally, who worked in Moscow at the same time that Taibbi and a friend were publishing an English language magazine there. Apparently Taibbi's antics and writings rubbed Lally the wrong way and she chronicles in great detail the sex harassment foibles of Taibbi in the December 15 edition of the Washington Post with The two expat bros who terrorized women correspondents in Moscow:

Twenty years ago, when I was a Moscow correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, two Americans named Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames ran an English-language tabloid in the Russian capital called the eXile. They portrayed themselves as swashbuckling parodists, unbound by the conventions of mainstream journalism, exposing Westerners who were cynically profiting from the chaos of post-Soviet Russia.

A better description is this: The eXile was juvenile, stunt-obsessed and pornographic, titillating for high school boys. It is back in the news because Taibbi just wrote a new book, and interviewers are asking him why he and Ames acted so boorishly back then. The eXile’s distinguishing feature, more than anything else, was its blinding sexism — which often targeted me.

Thus Lally's #MeToo moment:

I remember the eXile as a mishmash of nightclub listings (rated on how easily a man could get sex), articles on lurid escapades (sex with a 15-year-old girl, an account Ames now says was a joke), political pieces (“Why Our Military Shopping Spree Has Russia Pissed Off”) and press reviews savaging mainstream Western journalists. It ridiculed one female reporter as a “star spinster columnist” and mentioned women’s “anger lines” and fat ankles. The paper even had a cartoon called the Fat Ankle News , about a woman who tweezes her nose hairs and gorges on doughnuts while editing a story. Some male reporters came in for scorn as toadies or morons or liars. But their outrages concerned their minds and not their bodies.

Lally then goes on to describe how extreme animosity developed between herself and the eXile publishers. The most striking thing is that if Lally's descriptions are accurate, Taibbi and his friend come off like a couple of junior high school kids rather than as folks who were in their late 20s/early 30s at the time.

What is interesting about Taibbi is that, along with Stephen Cohen at The Nation, he is one of the few left leaning journalists to cast doubt on Trump-Russia collusion. His March 8 Rolling Stone column revealed those doubts in Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media:

If there's any truth to the notion that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian state to disrupt the electoral process, then yes, what we're seeing now are the early outlines of a Watergate-style scandal that could topple a presidency.

But it could also be true that both the Democratic Party and many leading media outlets are making a dangerous gamble, betting their professional and political capital on the promise of future disclosures that may not come.

...look at the techniques involved within the more "legitimate" reports. Many are framed in terms of what they might mean, should other information surface.

There are inevitably uses of phrases like "so far," "to date" and "as yet." These make visible the outline of a future story that isn't currently reportable, further heightening expectations.

Take the Times story about Trump surrogates having "repeated contacts" with Russian intelligence officials (an assertion that can mean anything, incidentally – as a reporter in Russia I had contact with Russian intelligence officials, as did most of my colleagues and friends in business, and there was nothing newsworthy about those interactions).

Oh, and one has to ask, who's next on being alleged to have committed sexual misconduct? We now await a new name in 5...4...3...2...