Matt Labash

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Matt Labash is an American journalist and feature writer currently a senior writer at The Weekly Standard, where his articles frequently appear.

Labash has written some in-depth coverage pieces exposing[citation needed] such well-known individuals as presidential candidate Al Gore, who was the Vice President of the United States at the time of the article. The reporter wrote a colorful, personal detailed story about the residences that Gore owned as a landlord in Tennessee. The article covered in-depth anecdotes and perspectives of some of the tenants who complained of inadequate repair and deteriorating conditions of the homes they were renting from Gore[citation needed] In another piece, Labash uncovered a sweetheart loan that George Stephanopoulos obtained[citation needed].

"Matt Labash of The Weekly Standard is consistently one of the best magazine writers in the country," David Brooks, editorial columnist for The New York Times wrote in his December 25, 2007 column. Brooks named Labash as one of the winners of the "Sidney Awards" — the columnist's annual naming of the articles he considers the best of the year. The writer's profile of Roger Stone[1] played to Labash's strong points, Brooks wrote, because "amoral blackguards bring out his best".[2]

However, in an interview with Journalismjobs.com in May 2003 Matt Labash admits that it pays to be un-objective. He was responding to the question, "Why have conservative media outlets like The Weekly Standard and Fox News Channel become more popular in the past few years?"[3]

Labash replied, "Because they feed the rage. We bring the pain to the liberal media. I say that mockingly, but it's true somewhat. We come with a strong point of view and people like point of view journalism. While all these hand-wringing Freedom Forum types talk about objectivity, the conservative media likes to rap the liberal media on the knuckles for not being objective. We've created this cottage industry in which it pays to be un-objective. It pays to be subjective as much as possible. It's a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Criticize other people for not being objective. Be as subjective as you want. It's a great little racket. I'm glad we found it actually."[4]

In 2010, a collection of Labash essays from the Standard, Fly Fishing with Darth Vader: and Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys, was published by Simon and Schuster. The articles ranged from profiles of politicians, ranging from then-Vice Pres. Richard B. Cheney to former Ohio Rep. James Traficant, and American cities such as Detroit, Michigan and New Orleans, Louisiana, to personal opinion-related pieces on such issues as US-Canada relations, physical education, and Facebook.

Life and career[edit]

Before joining the magazine in 1995, Labash worked for the Albuquerque Monthly, Washingtonian magazine, and The American Spectator. In 2002, he was named by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of "Ten Young Writers on the Rise". He graduated from the University of New Mexico.[5] Labash attended high school in San Antonio, Texas at Gateway Christian School. His father was an officer in the Air Force, and Labash lived some of his childhood years in Germany.

"I've never been a real hard-core political writer," Labash said in a 2003 interview for the JournalismJobs.com Web site. "I sort of live on the fringes and find stories that amuse me. My editors let me do that. [...] I like to find little undiscovered pockets or subjects or interesting people and just ride them into the ground. Things I know other people aren't going to get at."[5]

Sued for libel by Deepak Chopra[edit]

Labash was sued by new age guru, author, and spiritual-advisor-to-celebrities Deepak Chopra, after Labash wrote an article in the July 1, 1996 issue of the Standard exposing alleged inconsistencies between the healthy moral lifestyle advocated by Chopra and his real-life dalliances. Included in the exposé were accounts from call girls, substantiated by credit card receipts, allegedly showing Chopra had paid for their services. The article also delved into allegations that a Chopra book plagiarized the writing of others and that Chopra sold mail-order herbal remedies with high amounts of rodent hairs. Eventually a settlement involving an undisclosed amount of money was paid to Chopra and the Standard issued a complete retraction on June 1, 1997.[6]

According to an article in The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), the Standard went to "unusual lengths" to document the accusations against Chopra. But about six months into the litigation, the prostitute recanted her story and was dropped as a defendant. Some court records brought out the fact that Labash had tape recorded some interviewees without telling them, sometimes from his home in Maryland, where surreptitious taping is a felony. In a court brief, one of Chopra's lawyers, William Bradford Reynolds, a Reagan administration Justice Department official, described Labash as a "brash young 25-year-old cub reporter." Libel experts said the information revealed in court records indicated that it would be difficult to prove the Standard had acted with "actual malice" but that juries were unpredictable.[6] The Standard was at the time owned by billionaire Rupert Murdoch through News Corp.

Personal opinions[edit]

Labash describes himself as "someone who fly-fishes with a fanaticism bordering on mental illness", and asserts that, "I don't believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I'd hope to come back in my next life as a spooky brown trout, so that when I came back in the life following that one, I'd have a better idea of how to catch myself."[7]

A heterosexual, he nevertheless keeps on his Weekly Standard office desk a copy of the book Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men From The Rural Midwest. "I used to have problems with chit-chatty coworkers endlessly pitching camp in my office. Then I started displaying Farm Boys. Now, most of my office chats are away games, with me in control of the schedule. I can't recommend it highly enough."[7]

In late 2007, Labash described his politics and astrology sign: "Politically, I'm not terribly complicated. I regard myself as a fiscal and social conservative with strong libertarian overtones. Turn-ons include low taxes, balanced budgets, and a robust military. Turn-offs include waging unwinnable wars, government intervention, and mean people. Also, I'm a Gemini."[8]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Labash, Matt, "Roger Stone, Political Animal: 'Above all, attack, attack, attack — never defend.', The Weekly Standard, November 5, 2007, retrieved December 26, 2007
  2. ^ [2] Brooks, David, "The Sidney Awards", column, The New York Times, December 25, 2007, retrieved December 26, 2007
  3. ^ Interview with Matt Labash, JournalismJobs.com, May 2003, accessed January 9, 2013
  4. ^ Ibid.
  5. ^ a b [3] Interview with Matt Labash, JournalismJobs.com, May 2003, accessed December 4, 2006
  6. ^ a b [4] Schmidt, Rob, "How sorry is the Standard", article in Columbia Journalism Review, September 1, 1997, accessed June 24, 2007
  7. ^ a b [5] Staff of The Weekly Standard, "Holiday Reading 2007: Our favorite books." The Weekly Standard Web site, December 24, 2007, retrieved December 27, 2007
  8. ^ [6] Labash, Matt, "Pick Me a Candidate: Matt Labash, indecisive.", The Weekly Standard, December 31, 2007, accessed same day

External links[edit]

  • [7] The Weekly Standard Web site
  • [8] Interview with Matt Labash, JournalismJobs.com, May 2003

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