Matt Taibbi

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Matt Taibbi
Matt Taibbi.jpg
Taibbi in Philadelphia in 2008
Matthew C. Taibbi

(1970-03-02) March 2, 1970 (age 50)
EducationConcord Academy
Alma materBard College (B.A.)
OccupationJournalist, political writer, columnist
Years active1991–present[1]
Notable work
Griftopia (2010)
The Divide (2014)
Insane Clown President (2017)
I Can't Breathe (2017)
Hate Inc. (2019)

Matthew C. Taibbi (/tˈbi/; born March 2, 1970) is an American author, journalist, and podcaster. He has reported on finance, media, politics, and sports. He is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, author of several books, co-host of Useful Idiots, and publisher of a newsletter on Substack.

Taibbi began as a freelance reporter in the former Soviet Union, including a period in Uzbekistan, from where he was deported for criticizing President Islam Karimov. Taibbi later worked as a sports journalist for the English-language newspaper The Moscow Times. He also played professional baseball in Uzbekistan and Russia as well as professional basketball in Mongolia. Taibbi also worked for a short time as an investigator at a Boston-based private detective agency. In 1997, he moved back to Russia to edit the tabloid Living Here, but eventually left to co-edit rival tabloid The eXile. Taibbi returned to the United States in 2002 and founded the Buffalo-based newspaper The Beast. He left in 2003 to work as a columnist for the New York Press. In 2004, Taibbi began covering politics for Rolling Stone.[3][4]

In 2008, Taibbi won a National Magazine Award for three columns he wrote for Rolling Stone. In 2019, he launched the podcast Useful Idiots, co-hosted by Katie Halper and distributed by Rolling Stone. In 2020, he began self-publishing his online writing, while still contributing to the Useful Idiots podcast and the print edition of Rolling Stone.

Taibbi has authored several books, including The Great Derangement (2009); Griftopia (2010); The Divide (2014); Insane Clown President (2017);[5] I Can't Breathe (2017); and Hate Inc. (2019).

Taibbi is known for his brazen style, having branded Goldman Sachs a "vampire squid" in a 2009 article. His work often has drawn comparisons to the gonzo journalism of writer Hunter S. Thompson, who also covered politics for Rolling Stone.[6][7][8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Taibbi was born in 1970 in New Brunswick, New Jersey,[2] to Mike Taibbi, an NBC television reporter, and his wife. According to Matt, his surname Taibbi is a Sicilian name of Lebanese or Arabic origin. But his father, who is an American of part Filipino-Hawaiian descent,[10] received his surname when he was adopted as a child by a Sicilian-American couple. Thus, despite misconception, Taibbi is not of Arab but Irish (through his mother) and Filipino-Hawaiian descent.[11][12][13] He grew up in the Boston, Massachusetts suburbs. He attended Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts. He attended New York University, but transferred after his freshman year to Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York and graduated in 1992.[14][15] He spent a year abroad studying at Leningrad State Polytechnic Institute in Saint Petersburg, Russia.



In the early 1990s, Taibbi moved from Saint Petersburg to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where he began selling news articles more regularly. He was deported in 1992 for writing an article for the Associated Press that was critical of President Islam Karimov. At the time of his deportation, Taibbi was the starting left fielder for the Uzbek national baseball team.[16][3][1]


Taibbi moved to Ulan Bator, Mongolia for a time in the mid-1990s, where he played professional basketball in the Mongolian Basketball Association (MBA), which, he says, is the only basketball league outside the United States that uses the same rules as the NBA. Taibbi became known as "The Mongolian Rodman", was paid $100/month to play, and says he also hosted a radio show while there.[17][18][19] He later contracted pneumonia and returned to Boston for surgery.[20]

The eXile[edit]

Taibbi moved to Russia in 1992.[21] He lived and worked in Russia and the former USSR for more than six years. He joined Mark Ames in 1997 to co-edit the English-language Moscow-based, bi-weekly free newspaper, The eXile, which was written primarily for the city's expatriate community. The eXile's tone and content were highly controversial. To some, its commentary was brutally honest and gleefully tasteless; others considered it juvenile, misogynistic, and even cruel.[22][23][24] In the U.S. media during this time, Playboy magazine published pieces on Russia both by Taibbi and by Taibbi and Ames together. In 2000, Taibbi published his first book, The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia, co-authored with Ames. He later stated that he was addicted to heroin while he did this early writing.[25]

Journalist Kathy Lally wrote in The Washington Post in December 2017 that she and other female journalists were subjected to misogynistic attacks by Taibbi and Ames while she was a correspondent in Moscow in the 1990s. Lally contacted Taibbi in 2017, and he told her, "I certainly would not go about things now the way I did back then," and "I apologize for the physical descriptions. That was gratuitous and uncalled for."[26]

In 2017, Taibbi came under fire for excerpts from a chapter in the book written by Ames that described sexual harassment of employees at The eXile.[27] In a 2017 Facebook post responding to the controversy, Taibbi apologized for the "cruel and misogynistic language" used in the book, but said the work was conceived as a satire of the "reprehensible" behavior of American expatriates in Russia and that the description of events in the chapter was "fictional and not true".[28] Although the book includes a note saying that it is a work of non-fiction,[29] the publisher, Grove Press, has since said that the "statement on the copyright page is incorrect. This book combines exaggerated, invented satire and nonfiction reporting and was categorized as nonfiction because there is no category for a book that is both." Women portrayed in the book have gone on record to defend Taibbi, stating that none of the sexual harassment portrayed in the book "ever happened."[30]

United States[edit]

In 2002, he returned to the U.S. to start the satirical bi-weekly The Beast in Buffalo, New York. He left that publication, saying that "Running a business and writing is too much." Taibbi continued as a freelancer for The Nation, Playboy, New York Press (where he wrote a regular political column for more than two years), Rolling Stone, and New York Sports Express (as Editor at Large).

In March 2005, Taibbi's satirical essay, "The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope",[31] published in the New York Press, was denounced by Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Matt Drudge, Abe Foxman, and Anthony Weiner. He left the paper in August 2005, shortly after his editor Jeff Koyen was forced out over the article.[32] Taibbi defended the piece as "off-the-cuff burlesque of truly tasteless jokes," written to give his readers a break from a long run of his "fulminating political essays". Taibbi also said he was surprised at the vehement reactions to what he wrote "in the waning hours of a Vicodin haze".[33]

Taibbi became a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, writing feature-length articles on domestic and international affairs. He also wrote a weekly political online column, entitled "The Low Post", for the magazine's website.[34]

Taibbi covered the 2008 presidential campaign for Real Time with Bill Maher.[35] He was invited as a guest on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show[36] and other MSNBC programs. He has also appeared on Democracy Now![37] and Chapo Trap House,[38] and served as a contributor on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.[39] Taibbi has appeared on the Thom Hartmann radio and television shows, and the Imus in the Morning Show on the Fox Business network.

Journalist James Verini said that while interviewing Taibbi in a Manhattan restaurant for Vanity Fair, Taibbi cursed and threw some coffee at him, and then accosted him as he tried to get away, all in response to Verini's volunteered opinion that Taibbi's book, The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia, was "redundant and discursive".[40] The interview took place in 2010, and Taibbi later described the incident as "an aberration from how I've behaved in the last six or seven years".[41]

After the death of conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart, in March 2012, Taibbi wrote an obituary in Rolling Stone, entitled "Andrew Breitbart: Death of a Douche".[42][43] Many conservatives were angered by the obituary, where Taibbi wrote, "Good! Fuck him. I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead.", although Taibbi claimed that it was "at least half an homage", claiming respect for aspects of Breitbart''s style, but also alluding to Breitbart's own derisive obituary of Ted Kennedy.

In 2018, Taibbi began publishing a novel, The Business Secrets of Drug Dealing: Adventures of the Unidentified Black Male, as a serialized subscription via email and a website with an anonymous partner.[44] The novel is fictional with true-crime elements.[44]

In 2019, Taibbi wrote a chapter for his self-published book, Hate Inc., entitled "Why Russiagate Is This Generation's WMD", comparing alleged Trump-Russian collusion to allegations Iraq had WMD in 2002/2003.[45] Writing in an opinion piece for in the New York Times, Michelle Goldberg criticized Taibbi's assertion that "the biggest thing [the investigation] has uncovered so far is Donald Trump paying off a porn star” as "silly".[46]

In October 2019, Taibbi argued that the whistleblower in the Trump–Ukraine scandal was not a "real whistleblower" because the whistleblower would have had their life affected by prosecution or being sent to prison.[47] Taibbi also quoted former CIA analyst Robert Baer who argued that the whistleblower was part of a "palace coup against Trump."[47]

Financial journalism[edit]

Known for his reporting in the wake of the 2008 Subprime Mortgage Crisis and subsequent Great Recession, Taibbi described Goldman Sachs as "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money".[48] In financial and political media the expression "Vampire Squids" has come to represent the perception of the financial and investment sector as entities that "sabotage production" and "sink the economy as they suck the life out of it in the form of rent."[49][50][51]

Tackling the assistance to banks given in foreclosure courts, Taibbi traveled to Jacksonville, Florida to observe the "rocket docket". He was brought in to observe a hearing with attorney April Charney.[52] He concluded that it processed foreclosures without regard to the legality of the financial instruments being ruled upon, and sped up the process to enable quick resale of the properties, while obscuring the fraudulent and predatory nature of the loans.[53]

In February 2014, Taibbi joined First Look Media to head a financial and political corruption-focused publication called Racket.[54] However, after management disputes with First Look's leadership delayed its launch and led to its cancellation, Taibbi returned to Rolling Stone the following October.[55][56]

Sports journalism[edit]

Taibbi also wrote a column called "The Sports Blotter" for the free weekly newspaper, The Boston Phoenix.[19] He covered legal troubles involving professional and amateur athletes.[57]


In April 2020, Taibbi announced he would no longer publish his online writing through Rolling Stone, and henceforth, would publish his online writing independently through the e-mail newsletter service Substack. He stated that he would continue to contribute print features for Rolling Stone and maintain the Useful Idiots podcast with Katie Halper. Taibbi's stated that the decision was independent and that he was not asked to leave Rolling Stone.[58]

Useful Idiots[edit]

In August 2019, Taibbi launched a political podcast co-hosted with Katie Halper entitled Useful Idiots, that is released through Rolling Stone.[59] The podcast has since featured interviews with various guests including Ben Tulchin,[60] Tulsi Gabbard, Jimmy Dore, Andrew Yang, Bernie Sanders, Chris Hedges, Krystal Ball, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Michael Moore, Tim Robbins, Glenn Greenwald, Dennis Kucinich, Ro Khanna, Noam Chomsky, Adam McKay, Rashida Tlaib, Cornel West, and Thomas Frank.[61]

Personal life[edit]

Taibbi is married to Jeanne, who is a family physician, and they have three children.[62][63][2] As of 2014, Taibbi lived in Jersey City, New Jersey.[63]

In a 2008 interview with Hemant Mehta for Patheos, Taibbi described himself as an "atheist/agnostic".[64]


In 2008, Taibbi was awarded the National Magazine Award in the category "Columns and Commentary" for his Rolling Stone columns.[65] He won a Sidney Award in 2009 for his article "The Great American Bubble Machine".[66]



Selected works


  1. ^ a b Simon, Jeff (May 8, 2005). "CAMPAIGNS FOUND A GORILLA JOURNALIST IN THEIR MIDST". The Buffalo News. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Purcell, John (November 10, 2010). "Matt Taibbi, author of Griftopia, answers Ten Terrifying Questions". Booktopia.
  3. ^ a b "Matt Taibbi Decries Negative Campaigns". NOW on the News with Maria Hinojosa. PBS.
  4. ^ "Matt Taibbi". Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  5. ^ "Matt Taibbi's New Book: 'Insane Clown President'". Rolling Stone. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 21 May 2017.
  6. ^ Carlson, Peter (December 6, 2005). "Fed Time for Gonzo at Rolling Stone". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  7. ^ "The Great Derangement by Matt Taibbi". Kirkus Reviews. March 15, 2008. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  8. ^ Appleford, Steve (May 12, 2008). "State of the Union? It's a state of panic, author says". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  9. ^ Beiser, Vince (October 23, 2006). ""Worst Congress Ever"?". Mother Jones. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  10. ^ Mike Taibbi (January 20, 2009). "Obama's story inspires search for roots". NBC. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
  11. ^ Mont, Joe (April 20, 2011). "Racism, Sexism Creep Into Investing". Retrieved April 26, 2020.
  12. ^ Matt Taibbi [@mtaibbi] (6 January 2015). "@RaHa762 Taibbi is actually a Sicilian name of Lebanese/Arabic origin. I'm not either (father was adopted)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  13. ^ Matt Taibbi [@mtaibbi] (23 August 2015). "@ilikefights My father is Filipino and Hawaiian. My mother is Irish. These are heavily Jewish cultures, so I understand your confusion" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  14. ^ Stavru, William (12 November 2012). "Interview: Matt Taibbi '92". Bard College. Archived from the original on 4 January 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  15. ^ Taibbi, Matt (August 25, 2014). "Is Bard the New Brown?". Town & Country.
  16. ^ Mark Ames; Matt Taibbi (2000). The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia. Grove Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-8021-3652-7.
  17. ^ "Hoop Dreams On The Tundra". tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  18. ^ "The Bad Boy On the Bus: An Interview With Matt Taibbi". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  19. ^ a b ""I Was The Mongolian Rodman" — An Interview With Matt Taibbi". The Cauldron. 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2018-07-05.
  20. ^ Mark Ames; Matt Taibbi (2000). The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia. Grove Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-8021-3652-7.
  21. ^ Mark Ames; Matt Taibbi (2000). The Exile: Sex, Drugs, and Libel in the New Russia. Grove Press. p. 30. ISBN 978-0-8021-3652-7.
  22. ^ Rolling Stone Magazine, issue 800, November 26th 1998.
  23. ^ Jack Hamann (1999-09-23). "The Russia Factor". CNN Perspectives. Archived from the original (Reprint) on 2012-02-14. (see also Hamann's site Archived 2016-04-07 at the Wayback Machine)
  24. ^ Martha Bayne (July 13, 2000). "Beast in the East: In Moscow's Exile, hard news jumps in bed with misogyny and mayhem". The Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  25. ^ Lost Exile. Vanity Fair
  26. ^ Lally, Kathy (15 December 2017). "Perspective:The two expat bros who terrorized women correspondents in Moscow". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  27. ^ Aimee Levitt (October 27, 2017). "Twenty years ago, in Moscow, Matt Taibbi was a misogynist asshole—and possibly worse". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  28. ^ "Matt Taibbi October 26, 2017 Facebook post". Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  29. ^ Dan Whitcomb (October 28, 2017). "U.S. journalist faces sexual harassment furor over memoir". Reuters. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  30. ^ Walker Bragman (December 11, 2017). "The Destruction of Matt Taibbi". Paste. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  31. ^ "The 52 Funniest Things About The Upcoming Death of The Pope". Archived from the original on 2015-10-26. Retrieved 2015-10-08.
  32. ^ "New York Press Editor Quits Over Article". The New York Times. 8 March 2015.
  33. ^ "Keep Pope Alive" Archived 2008-01-19 at the Wayback Machine, March 16, 2005, New York Press. Retrieved Mar 29, 2010.
  34. ^ Matt Taibbi: Rolling Stone Archived December 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ "Real Time: Matt Taibbi follows the Clinton campaign in Youngstown, Ohio" Archived 2008-07-20 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ "The Rachel Maddow Show Guest List: Week of March 30, 2009". Retrieved 2009-04-01.
  37. ^ ""Worst Congress Ever: Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi on How Our National Legislature Has Become a "Stable of Thieves and Perverts""". 2006-10-27.
  38. ^ "Episode 11 - Cranking the Donkey feat. Matt Taibbi". 2016-05-22.
  39. ^ Stelter, Brian (20 June 2011). "At New Network, Olbermann Sets Sights on MSNBC". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
  40. ^ Verini, James (2010-02-23). "Lost Exile | Culture". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  41. ^ "The Father of the Squid". The New York Observer. 2010-10-19. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  42. ^ "Andrew Breitbart: Death of a Douche". March 2012. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  43. ^ "Andrew Breitbart's death: The 'astonishing' liberal gloating". 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  44. ^ a b Recode Staff (April 25, 2018). "Recode Daily: Twitter is growing again". Recode. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  45. ^ Bromwich, David (2019-12-05). "The Medium Is the Mistake". ISSN 0028-7504. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  46. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (2019-03-25). "Opinion | No Criminal Collusion. Lots of Corruption". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-27.
  47. ^ a b Serwer, Adam (2019-10-09). "So What If the Whistle-Blower Has a Political Motive?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  48. ^ Carney, John (July 16, 2009). "Matt Taibbi's "Vampire Squid" Takedown Of Goldman Sachs Is Finally Online".
  49. ^ [1]L. Randall Wray, "Growing recognition of the need for the Job Guarantee", EconoMonitor, 16 January 2014
  50. ^ Zamansky, Jake (August 8, 2013). "The Great Vampire Squid Keeps On Sucking". Forbes. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  51. ^ Roose, Kevin (December 13, 2011). "The Long Life of the Vampire Squid". DealBook. The New York Times. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  52. ^ David Dayen (December 19, 2017). Chain of Title: How Three Ordinary Americans Uncovered Wall Street's Great Foreclosure Fraud. New Press. p. 207. ISBN 978-1-62097-418-6.
  53. ^ Taibbi, Matt, "Invasion of the Home Snatchers", Rolling Stone, 10 November 2010
  54. ^ Somaiya, Ravi (2014-02-19). "Start-Up Site Hires Critic of Wall St". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  55. ^ McCarthy, Tom (31 October 2014). "Matt Taibbi returning to Rolling Stone after split from First Look Media". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  56. ^ Greenwald, Glenn; Poitras, Laura; Scahill, Jeremy; Cook, John (October 30, 2014). "The Inside Story Of Matt Taibbi's Departure From First Look Media". The Intercept. Retrieved December 11, 2019.
  57. ^ Foss, Sara (August 17, 2009). "Landing an Eagle". The Daily Gazette.
  58. ^ Taibbi, Matt (April 6, 2020). "Announcement to Readers: I'm Moving". Substack. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  59. ^ Taibbi, Matt (August 20, 2019). "Welcome to 'Useful Idiots,' a New Rolling Stone Podcast". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  60. ^ Reed Dunlea and Daniel Halpern, Useful Idiots: Zoomin Toobin, How to Pitch Biden to Voters, and Analyzing Polls With Ben Tulchin, Rolling Stone, October 23, 2020
  61. ^ "Useful Idiots with Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper". Apple Podcasts. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
  62. ^ Matt Taibbi and Katie Halper (February 7, 2020). "Lee Fang on Iowa Shadow App and Bloomberg's Growing Political Machine, Plus the Whole World Sucks After Iowa". Useful Idiots (Podcast). Rolling Stone. Event occurs at 02:33. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  63. ^ a b Shaer, Matthew (March 9, 2014). "Raging Against Hacks With Muckraker Turned Magazine-Maker Matt Taibbi". New York. Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  64. ^ 'Interview with Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi', Friendly Atheist, 29 April 2008 (accessed 10 May 2008).
  65. ^ "Magazine Publishers of America, NMA Winners". 2010-04-22. Archived from the original on 2008-07-28. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
  66. ^ "Matt Taibbi". Hillman Foundation. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  67. ^ "Search at". Retrieved 2011-03-31.

Further reading[edit]


Biographical works

External links[edit]