In today's Media Notes column, Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz reported just how far Rolling Stone is willing to go on its ultraliberal-hippie crusade against social conservatism: it's hired Matt Taibbi, the writer infamously published by the New York Press for "The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope." (As in, "Beetles eating dead Pope's brains." ) Oh, and he wasn't sorry, whatever he says today. He left the Press shortly after his editor, Jeff Koyen, was fired for lack of sense.
The most over-the-top writer by far is Taibbi, 36, the son of NBC correspondent Mike Taibbi. The younger Taibbi's style is such that he often seems to be channeling the late Hunter Thompson. "I used to do a lot of drugs, and I'm a humorist," Taibbi says in acknowledging the comparison.
In a piece on Tom DeLay, he wrote: "Like our current president, he's an ex-drunk (he claims he used to suck down twelve martinis a night) given to preposterous rhetorical excesses (he once compared the Audubon Society to the Klan), making him a sort of cartoon version of a shameless, pig-hearted right-wing hypocrite."
And Taibbi had this to say about the Connecticut Senate race between Joe Lieberman and Ned Lamont: "If you believe the propaganda emanating from Lieberman and his coterie of whore-cronies in the Democratic Leadership Council, Lamont is a dangerous, pillar-crushing revolutionary, a preppy, tanned mixture of Lenin and the Ayatollah."
Sometimes he goes too far, as with a piece last year for the New York Press on the ailing John Paul II, titled "The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope." Taibbi left soon afterward, as did the paper's editor.
"It was something I wrote in the middle of the night," Taibbi says. "Something like 10 different congressmen denounced it. It was a nightmare."
But it's a pitch-perfect match for Rolling Stone: the Pope is a primary target for irreverence, but they worshipped at the altar of drug-toking fiend Hunter S. Thompson.
In 2003, we also noticed:
Matt Taibbi suggested reporters were routed, like Texans at the Alamo: “The entire White House press corps should be herded into a cargo plane, flown to an altitude of 30,000 feet, and pushed out, kicking and screaming, over the North Atlantic.”
By October, Bill Moyers told the left-wing web site Buzzflash.com that “Matt Taibbi wrote in The New York Press at the time that it was like a mini-Alamo for American journalism. I’d say it was more a collective Jonestown-like suicide. At least the defenders of the Alamo put up a fight.”