He was born around 1949. Born in Hawaii with the name Loren Ames Denny to a Filipino-Hawaiian mother named Camila Salinas and a father out of wedlock, he was adopted from foster care at 7 or 8 years of age by Salvatore and Gaetana Taibbi of New York City, where he was raised with the name Mike Taibbi; the surname Taibbi is of Sicilian and Lebanese origin. He graduated from Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, in 1971 with Bachelor of Science degrees in English and sociology. He married and had a son, Matt Taibbi, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone.
In 1989, with Anna Sims-Phillips, Taibbi co-wrote Unholy Alliances: Working the Tawana Brawley Story, about the discredited Tawana Brawley rape allegations.