Matt Taibbi

Backtalk matt taibbi author
is an American author and journalist reporting on politics, media, finance, and sports for Rolling Stone and Men's Journal, often in a polemical style. He has also edited and written for The eXile, the New York Press, and The Beast.

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MattTaibbi518 karma

I absolutely did throw coffee at James Verini, and it had nothing to do with him not liking my book. Let's leave it at that for now. I'll tell the full story someday.

MattTaibbi441 karma

Years ago, when I was in my twenties, I was asked by a book publishing company to edit an anthology of "Gonzo Journalism." Not long into the project I realized there was no such thing as "Gonzo Journalism" as a genre per se, it just meant "written by Hunter Thompson." But I was broke and needed the job. So I called Hunter to ask him what he thought. He said, "That's a shitty assignment." I told him I probably agreed. He said, "How badly do you need the money?" I said, "Badly." He said, "Well, good luck, but I'm not going to help you with it. No offense." I said none taken and that was it. That was the only time I ever talked to Hunter. It was a funny call, though.

MattTaibbi441 karma

Purely by accident. Honestly, there were some close calls. A lot of bad decisions while I was there, many of them under the influence. One very funny story I've never told: I once worked with a Russian paper called "Stringer" to wiretap Alexander Voloshin, Putin's chief of staff. We published a week of his phone calls. I was so afraid of the consequences, I stayed out of the country when we published. Upon my return I was detained at the airport for 10 hours. I thought I was going to jail for life. In fact, the Russians were simply concerned that the lamination on my passport was coming up in one corner. They thought my passport was fake. Once they reached the embassy, they let me go. But that was one scary 10 hours.

MattTaibbi430 karma

Gruasty, great question. Neil and I talked about that just the other day. He knows Mary Jo, worked with her, she actually hired him if I'm not mistaken. And I trust his judgement about pretty much everything. So this has been confusing to me. One thing we talked about is that in most cases, the switch she's making, from defending Wall Street for millions to policing it, doesn't really work. But he believes she's in the small minority of people who can pull it off. We'll see. I like Neil a lot, he's an honest person, hope he's right.

MattTaibbi325 karma

Hello, 3rdCulture. A great question that I struggle with a lot -- normally, "What do we do about it?" isn't really the province of reporters like me. But in terms of the stuff I cover, the obvious thing that needs to be done is that the banks need to be broken up; all of our major corruption problems stem from the Too-Big-To-Fail issue. How we accomplish that is of course problematic. There are two ways it gets done, legislatively and through prosecutions, i.e. the DOJ could charge a bank with something and then make breaking itself up a condition of its settlement. Or the state could legislate changes like the Brown-Kaufman amendment. Either way we need to elect people who recognize the problem and are willing to take those steps. Sentiment for this is growing.

MattTaibbi314 karma

Again, to repeat, breaking up the banks is the big thing. That should be the Holy Grail of activist goals. Everything flows from the TBTF problem. If that can be accomplished, we're off and running. And it's not farfetched. There are a lot of people even in DC coming around to the idea.

MattTaibbi291 karma

I wouldn't last 10 seconds as a politician. It's a very hard job with a completely different skillset from journalism. Plus, I'm totally unelectable... if you look at some of the early eXile issues, I couldn't win a county dogcatcher race with all that in my past. I wouldn't vote for me.

MattTaibbi283 karma

I get accused of being cynical a lot. I would say I'm the opposite of a cynic. A cynic is someone who recognizes that nothing changes. If I didn't think changing things was possible, I wouldn't be such a long-winded bore about the problems.

MattTaibbi264 karma

First of all, I'd want my official title to be "Interior Minister." I seem to recall that Ivan the Terrible once had a giant frying pan built so that he could roast the captives from a battle in Pskov. The frying supposedly was done in Red Square. I think I might try that with the cast of "Jersey Shore."

MattTaibbi235 karma

Benjamin, hey, thanks for the question, this is a good one to start with. This AMA thing is wild BTW, thanks for being here. On carried interest, don't expect changes. Politics almost annually propose repealing that break. Changes never actually get made -- usually the threat is used as leverage to secure something else they really want. I would bet my house that you won't see major changes to that law.