February 26, 2010

Shocker: Matt Taibbi's a dick

By: Sonny Bunch

Via Jason Fagone, I came across this story about the rise and fall of a duo of American muckrakers — Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi — looking to make a splash in post-Communist Russia. It’s a pretty solid piece — lurid and sensational, yet tinged with just the right amount of sentimental whimsy — but the highlight, as Jason notes, is Taibbi’s reaction to author James Verini’s interview attempt:

“I just don’t see why you’re doing this story,” he said. When I told him that Ames was now living in New York he grew more agitated. I mentioned some of the Exile pieces of his I planned to write about, and he said, “That was covered in the book.” I told him yes, that was true, but the book had been published in 2000, and, frankly, I didn’t think it was very good.

“The book wasn’t good?” he said.

“No, I didn’t think so,” I said.

“My book?” he said.

“Yes, the Exile book. I thought it was redundant and discursive and you guys left out a lot of the good stuff you did,” I said.

At this, Taibbi’s mouth turned down and his eyes narrowed.

“Fuck you,” he snarled, and then picked up his mug from the table, threw his coffee at me, and stormed out.

I don’t think that anyone who is familiar with his work would be too terribly surprised to see Taibbi react in such a manner. He has a nasty streak in him and loves simple mockery far more than the more difficult quality of understanding a difficult subject. What is a little surprising, honestly, is that Taibbi most closely resembles an unhinged 9/11 Truther by the name of Nico Haupt. From Taibbi’s blog:

A group of Truthers even picketed my office, and I’m still picking food particles out of my scarf after an incident in which the movement’s house lunatic, a wild-eyed German blogger named Nico Haupt, tried to goad me into slugging him in a West Side diner.

“Go ahead, heet me, then I haf beeg story!” he roared, scream-spitting half-digested detritus in my face.

Of course I didn’t hit him — nothing in the world is more ridiculous than two writers fighting in a restaurant.

Emphasis mine because, come on, that’s too good to be true. You’re right, Matt: Nothing in the world is more ridiculous than two writers fighting in a restaurant. Unless one of those writers decides to throw coffee in the face of another, entirely unprovoked. That actually might be slightly more ridiculous.

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