Matt Taibbi: Gonzo Journalist Or Establishment Plant?

Note 1: This web post by the anti-fascist author of several books on mind-control and propaganda, Alex Constantine, is perhaps a bit harsh in its conclusions. Taibbi might simply not know enough to steer clear of disinformation. Also, to be fair, he’s a more talented writer than Constantine gives him credit for being.

Other than that, though, I think the piece gets it right. Taibbi is a documented plagiarist and an obvious grandstander. In my book that makes him suspect, even without the other factors.

Note 2:

I take back my qualification, “harsh”.

Look what Taibbi has to say about other people:

In “Tea-bagging Michelle Malkin,”  he writes the following about a married woman with children who is also –  and this is not an inconsiderable point –  from a different race ( it’s well-known that racial and sexual put-downs blur into each other in violent pornography):-

“For one thing, it’s brought together the words teabag and Michelle Malkin for me in a very powerful, thrilling sort of way.”

“A mean little dunce who’s wedged herself into a nicely paying career as a GOP spokesclown”

“When I read her stuff, I imagine her narrating her text, book-on-tape style, with a big, hairy set of balls in her mouth. It vastly improves her prose.”

And, just to show he’s quite willing to trash a Caucasian woman equally, as long as she’s the ‘wrong’ sort, here’s what he has to say about Sarah Palin:

“Not only is Sarah Palin a fraud, she’s the tawdriest, most half-assed fraud imaginable, 20 floors below the lowest common denominator, a character too dumb even for daytime TV — and this country is going to eat her up, cheering her every step of the way. All because most Americans no longer have the base energy to do anything but lie back and allow ourselves to be jacked off by the calculating thieves who run this grasping consumer paradise we call a nation.”

I’m not a fan of either of these women, but what kind of “progressive” writer says these kinds of things?

This is writing clearly geared to a male audience, don’t you think?

About 9-11 skeptics, in his debate with David Griffin, a widely respected academician and many years Taibbi’s senior:

You idiots. Even if it were not the rank steaming bullshit my few scientist friends assure me that it is, none of that stuff would prove anything.”

“Dickwads” (see below)

Taibbi has called plenty of people propagandists himself, from Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria to Malkin (“Murdoch’s tawdry mouthpiece”) to followers of Ayn Rand.

He’s also attacked the Tea Party movement and the 9-11 Truth movement, all in the vilest terms.

So, shining the light on Matt is only fair.

Note 3: I’ve made one or two corrections, added numbering, italics and highlighting to make it easier to read.

Note 4:

Here’s my account of Taibbi’s plagiarism of my work on Goldman Sachs.

In another blog post, “Traveling, Taibbi, and Tares Among The Wheat,” (October 24, 2009), I noted some of his other targets.

A few other people have spotted the plagiarism as well, here and elsewhere. (I’m adding more links to this as I have time).

The Daily Bell, a libertarian outfit writing from Switzerland, apparently heard the tinny ring of what they call an “elite promotion,”  (“Goldman Sachs, The Antichrist?” May 08, 2010), even without knowing about the plagiarism. When they learned about it, they added this analysis in “Just Goldman?” (May 17, 2010):

“Taibbi is just like Simon Johnson … blasting Wall Street and Goldman in particular without any regard to the larger frame of reference in which Goldman functions. Such analysis at this point in time is beyond naïve in our opinion. It verges on the manipulative.”

As you can easily verify, The Bell, writing from the view of professional money-managers/bankers comes to pretty much the same conclusion about Taibbi that Constantine and I do, each of us quite separately.

[10/12/15: Please check the blog for my later thoughts about the Daily Bell and its ties to suspected NWO players, although I never quite made up my mind about them.]

In a post entitled, Social Media Manipulations of the Liberals, I put my misgivings into the larger context of  revisionism on the web and on wikipedia .

In Matt Taibbi Shills For Neocons (September 23, 2009), I took a look at his churlish attack on David Griffin over 9-11, at

Yet, with all that, my feeling until now has been that the publicity Taibbi brings to the whole issue compensates for any muddying of it.

I said as much in this post, “Blogger Credibility” (Sept 27, 2009).

These days, however, I’m not so sure.

Truth is an invaluable commodity. And ethics too.

Note 5

Let me clarify Constantine’s points, since they’re not stated explicitly and need to be teased out from the piece.

1. It was Taibbi who dropped the name of Hunter Thompson in reference to himself, to establish the association in his readers’ mind

2. Taibbi uses extreme language calculated to blunt the readers’ sensibility and sensationalize a story so that attention remains where he fixes it.

3. Hunter Thompson died in an apparent suicide in the course of a very dangerous and important investigation of a kind that Taibbi has never undertaken.

Taibbi came to the Goldman story LONG after it had been blown open by other people and when it was well within the boundaries of mainstream discussion.

4. Taibbi’s father is an establishment journalist, apparently cozy enough with the government to be an embedded (I presume) reporter in the services of empire.

(Lila: From his blog postings,  it seems that Taibbi clearly differentiates between ‘bad’ imperial wars conducted by Republicans  – Iraq – and ‘good’ imperial wars – Yugoslavia – conducted by liberals.

In other words, behind all the blather, he is for empire, as long as it’s done with the ‘right’ style and by the ‘right’ people.

That is, a statist of the usual “it’s for your good and the betterment of the planet” variety).

5. Taibbi’s characterization of 9-11 skeptics actually fits him better than it fits them.

6. Taibbi reinvented himself as some kind of self-professed “libertarian” through liber-al-tarian outlets like the establishment (pro-war) magazine “Reason.”

I would suggest that this was a  way to co-opt the anger over the financial crisis coming from the libertarian camp, especially from people in the financial markets.

By co-opting it, the establishment gets to keep it within the boundaries consistent with maintaining empire through military and financial control.


This is a sharp take-down of Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone‘s gonzo-in-residence, from Alex Constantine’s Black List:

“Matt Taibbi, in (controlled) left media interviews often introduced as “another Hunter S. Thompson”:

1. “I’m sitting here 90 minutes north of Chicago in my shorts and flip flops after mowing the lawn on this 77 degree October 21. While waiting for the 60 Minutes story on mega-fires in the American west, I find myself nostalgic for certain individuals, now dead, who used to tell it like it is. “There was Warren Zevon, for one. There was also Hunter S. Thompson.”


Of course Thompson “told it like it is” (standard Taibbi hackneyed phrase) – he was an anti-fascist “conspiracy theorist.”

[The personification of “Gonzo” was investigating Omaha’s Franklin Credit Union and child molestation scandals when he “suicided” (or was “suicided,” to scuttle any revelations he may have scratched out of the stone walls of Nebraska)].

A literary find? Who cares about Taibbl’s “flip flops” … or his lawn … or the temperature while he sits idly waiting to watch TV … or even the nostalgia, because it’s signally hypocritical?

Matt Taibbi on Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat:

2. “Already the premise is totally fucked. ... “

Hunter S. Thompson wrote this badly?

When did anyone but a classless, low-brow, print-media-answer-to-shock-jock diversion ever write this way?

Tabbi’s book is titled The Great Derangement, and it accuses “conspiracy theorists” – who, contrary to disingenuous and desperate claims from the (controlled) media, actually exhibit active, balanced, fiercely-independent minds – of having severe mental problems. It’s a projection, IMHO …

3. ” The country … was losing its shit.”


Hunter Thompson would have never written this sentence. But a writer who thinks in these terms – a street flake – considers himself capable of evaluating complex engineering data, and judging informed political researchers who do actually comprehend fascist conspiracies, an everyday American phenomenon, a verifiable reality (when you deconstruct the ((controlled)) “mainsteam” [sic] media opinion formation) that Taibbi denies.

The psychological term for the self-elevation is “narcissism.” Denying reality is “dissociative.”

Taibbi needs to look up these terms and confront his own derangements.

The wit of Matt Taibbi:

4. ” … Taibbi is embarrassed by all the comparisons. “It sucks,” he says. … “


Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi:

Taibbi wanted to be a novelist, but doesn’t write novels, he says, because his fiction writing “sucks.”

So bad you couldn’t stand it.

I believe this is true.

But we are to believe that his real talent is political journalism. I don’t think so:

5.  “Actually, listening to Joe Biden sound self-righteous about anything makes me want to puke my guts out. I don’t know what it is about him. Maybe it’s that creepy poof of blowdried gray pubic fuzz he has now … “



Or is the dissociative, narcissistic Matt Taibbi a good soldier planted by the intelligence bund (” … if the FBI really is following anyone on the American left … ” “… The Truth Movement thinks I’m a shill … “) to discredit dissidents:

“Liberal” Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi on the Left’s “Ugly Little Secret”:

6.  The American Left’s Silly Victim Complex
From Adbusters #71, May-Jun 2007

” … The sad truth is that if the FBI really is following anyone on the American left, it is engaging in a huge waste of time and personnel. No matter what it claims for a self-image, in reality it’s the saddest collection of cowering, ineffectual ninnies ever assembled under one banner on God’s green earth.

“And its ugly little secret is that it really doesn’t mind being in the position it’s in – politically irrelevant and permanently relegated to the sidelines, tucked into its cozy little cottage industry of polysyllabic, ivory tower criticism. When you get right down to it, the American left is basically just a noisy Upper West side cocktail party for the college-graduate class.

“And we all know it. The question is, when will we finally admit it? … “

More Evidence of Taibbi’s Narcissism and Dissociative Tendencies

Matt Taibbi’s Perspective on 9/11:

7.  THE LOW POST: I, Left Gatekeeper

Why the “9/11 Truth” movement makes the “Left Behind” sci-fi series read like Shakespeare

Posted Sep 26, 2006 12:14 PM

A few weeks ago I wrote a column on the anniversary of 9/11 that offhandedly dismissed 9/11 conspiracy theorists as “clinically insane.”… Apparently every third person in the United States thinks George Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks.

“You’re just another MSM-whore left gatekeeper paid off by corporate America,” said one writer. “What you do isn’t journalism at all, you dick,” said another. “You’re the one who’s clinically insane,” barked a third, before educating me on the supposed anomalies of physics involved with the collapse of WTC-7.

I have two basic gripes with the 9/11 Truth movement. The first is that it gives supporters of Bush an excuse to dismiss critics of this administration. I have no doubt that every time one of those Loose Change dickwads opens his mouth, a Republican somewhere picks up five votes. In fact, if there were any conspiracy here, I’d be far more inclined to believe that this whole movement was cooked up by Karl Rove as a kind of mass cyber-provocation, along the lines of Gordon Liddy hiring hippie peace protesters to piss in the lobbies of hotels where campaign reporters were staying. …

Taibbi’s “Libertarian” Politics

(Lila: As I almost immediately suspected, the whole point of inserting Taibbi into the Goldman debate was to divert the libertarian crowd from the sources where the financial dirt was dished before anywhere else. I’m not going to go any further with this here, however, because once I put things on the net, then the evidence starts getting cleaned up. I want to be sure I’ve gathered it all before laying out any more)

Reason magazine – a CIA Mockingbird propaganda sheet – interviews Matt Taibbi:

8.  Reason: You’ve told one interviewer, “I’m never comfortable when people call me a lefty. If anyone were to ever ask, I’d say I’m probably more of a libertarian than anything else. I believe in capitalism, small government, etc.” ??Taibbi: My political views shouldn’t be important. I’m more comfortable describing other people than talking about what I really think. I have different beliefs that are all over the place. I think Roe v. Wade should be overturned because I believe in the federalist model; I believe that states should be able to make their own drug laws. The more democracy you have, the more people can make decisions for their own communities, the more freedom people have.

His father is Mike Taibbi:

Mike Taibbi is a television journalist working at NBC.

Taibbi received Bachelor of Science degrees from Rutgers University in sociology and journalism in 1971. He worked for ABC and CBS affiliates before settling in at NBC. He specializes in international news and has reported on the war on terrorism from Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.

He has a son, Matt Taibbi, who is a contributing editor and writer for Rolling Stone.



• Unholy Alliances: Working the Tawana Brawley Story (Harcourt, June 1989). ISBN 0-15-188050-6.

14 thoughts on “Matt Taibbi: Gonzo Journalist Or Establishment Plant?

  1. This guy pulls no punches! …

    “Reason magazine – a CIA Mockingbird propaganda sheet – interviews Matt Taibbi …”

    But he seems to have stopped writing as of January 25, 2010. Wonder what happened.

  2. His language is appalling and leaves me feeling dumber every time I read it. He was also associated with the newspaper the exile(d) which got kicked out of Russia recently for unclear reasons. He certainly subscribed to the same style of scatological, juvenile prose associated with Mark Ames, et al. Don’t know if the exiled folks are intelligence agents of disinformation or just morons. Maybe useful idiots?

  3. There were several things about Taibbi that made me suspicious from the start. I noticed that as early as 2008 fall, he was picking up on things I’d written – or so it seemed.

    I’ll go into it in details when I’ve assembled all my material.

    Then I saw his bio and the kinds of memes he was pushing – associating Rand (rather than Hayek or Mises, who would be less easy to demonize) with libertarians. Equating Rand with Greenspan and many, many other things.

    The Russian background doesn’t necessarily mean anything but in the circumstanes, it warrants a second look

  4. Matt Taibbi is just another product of popular culture along the lines of a pop star or some silly rapper. The thing is politics has become hip so Jan Wenner hires the prototype “pseudo-rebel” to write Thompsonesque dribble and recycle the “rebellion” of his youth to sell to the gen-whatevers who buy his magazine. It amkes them feel good. It sells ads to the priceless 18-40 demo and everyone is fat, dumb, and happy. Taibbi writes what sells and gets paid. Anyone who reads Rolling Stone and thinks that it is anything but entertainment needs to check their head. Taibbi is like the stand up comedian who tells “dick jokes” as Bill Hicks used to say. His writing is crude, and frankly boring but it is designed to attract a certain demo. It is not intended to make the reader think. He wrote the same moronic crap in The NY Press years back. He’s a lightweight and, as mentioned, a copy cat.
    Sorry for the rambling unorganized comment but Matt Taibbi is (along with the Boy-King in the White House) are the poster children for the dumbing down of my generation and the two that follow.


    Keith Snyder

  5. Well –

    he can turn a phrase ..and he has occasional good insights.. between that tourette’s syndrome..or whatever..that afflicts him normally.

    I’d have gone easy on him if he’d been civil to David Griffin, who is really one of the few heroes in journalism and a man of learning and integrity.

    But when he tried that hatchet job on Griffin in Alternet and smeared 9-11 investigators, I decided he needed a drubbing.

    So you don’t find anything to question in 9-11, Matt? Good. But don’t attack other people who disagree with you.

    I’d refrained from blogging openly about 9-11 until around 2008 thinking it wasn’t my place as an immigrant to bring it up..but then I saw how the MSM counterattacked on it and I figured it was time for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of the Titanic or whatever it is that’s sinking under our feet..

  6. Taibbi is a national treasure. Loved his stuff at The eXile too, him and Ames had some of the best reporting coming out of Russia in the 1990’s. Really enjoyed Matt’s book “The Great Derangement”.

    “I’m not a fan of either of these women, but what kind of “progressive” writer says these kinds of things?”
    One without a stick up his arse. One who is not a sanctimonious bore, preaching to choir.

    “This is writing clearly geared to a male audience, don’t you think?”
    Which makes him a rarity in the “progressive” world.

  7. Rubbish. False alternative.

    Plenty of funny writers who didn’t spend their time on scatalogical humor.

    Joe Bageant is one…Fred Reed is hilarious..
    Lots of people..Leacock, Benchley, Wodehouse, Saki…

    You found the Michele Malkin comment funny? None of the men I know did. They thought it was revolting. And none of them is especially conservative.

    But that’s beside the point.
    Matt is a pilferer and a stooge.

    Even if he were a major talent, it wouldn’t matter.

  8. Hi DCN –

    I was married to a prowar republican and know exactly how they think.
    Believe me you cannot convert one that way.
    Liberals are under the delusion they talk nice?
    Al Franken wasn’t rude enough?

    C. S. Lewis once said it’s the delusion of each age that it thinks it needs more of what it is already saturated with…or words to that effect.

    And I suppose this guy also thinks the real reason we have problems is because Americans are prudes..

    Alternet publishes some good stuff. But this guy is a dim bulb

  9. PS I was a conservative small government type when I was a student without anything.
    The fact that this guy thinks lower income class people vote Republican because they are being “taken in” – is foolish..

    And the fact that he thinks people should vote their pockets shows what people think about citizenship. And why demo-cracy is one of the underlying problems.

    PPS –

    People often don’t vote liberals because they don’t like liberal talking heads, not just because of the politics, but because of the kind of people a lot of them seem to be
    Talk about sanctimonious.

  10. Pingback: Blog Hiatus…or Blog Ambush? (Updated) | LILA RAJIVA: The Mind-Body Politic

  11. “Alternet publishes some good stuff. But this guy is a dim bulb”
    Lila, I appreciate your work. But this guy is Gary Brecher The War Nerd from The eXile. Which means he is brilliant and hilarious, not to mention sharp as a machete.

    “People often don’t vote liberals because they don’t like liberal talking heads, not just because of the politics, but because of the kind of people a lot of them seem to be
    Talk about sanctimonious.”

    Kind of supports his underlying arguments doesn’t it?

  12. I don’t know eXile…
    I don’t care who the guy is. I judged him by what he said in that article…he sounded like a dim bulb there. You can write really well and still be a dim bulb, you know. I didn’t find the writing all that great actually.
    Isn’t this the guy? – someone called Dolan.
    “AlterNet / By John Dolan Fighting Words: How to Humiliate — and Convert — a Right-Winger”

    You want a stylish smart writer, try Joe Stromberg…there’s a funny literate guy.

    You say people should get nasty, but when I say someone is a dim bulb, notice how it doesn’t sound so nice to you. How come? How’d you feel if I tried a few of those Taibbi epithets on him?

    You want people to get nasty, you’ll find they won’t get nasty at your preferred targets – they’ll get nasty at everyone and everything. And since pro-war conservatives out number liberals, the results won’t be pretty….they aren’t now.

    The sanctimony I was talking about isn’t the fact that liberals don’t use (or think they don’t use) foul language and slander. (They actually do). I don’t call that sanctimony. I respect it.

    By sanctimony I mean liberal moralism about business and the right…

    Their willingness to bash Bush for the same things they give Obama a free pass on…
    For the way they think everyone else in the world is a racist, but their clear cut provable racism never is.

    Look at Taibbi’s arguments..

    All he knows about business is this: business bad, people good.
    Meida/academics, good. Politicians, bad.
    Dems good, republicans bad.

    People like that have usually never run a business or met a payroll and they have no respect for the people do. And it shows.

    Notice also how all their abuse is carefully directed at “easy” targets. I actually despise that kind of thing. I truly despise it (Sorry, I know you like the guy).

    More moralism:

    Radical left..angels, radical right, demons.
    People from elite schools – genius
    People from small schools – idiots.
    Atheists, smart
    Religious people, idiots.

    Among American journalists, I respect someone like Doug Valentine, who hasn’t kowtowed to the system. Or Ann Williamson. Or Gary Webb. And some others in the far left and right that are hardly known.

    (Moe Tcacik is sharper and funnier than Taibbi, by the way. I think she understands the big picture better too).

    Look, the guy is good entertainment. Fine. Enjoy it. But don’t tell me I gotta respect him as a journalist. I don’t. And he’s also a plagiarist. Not a small problem.

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