Matt Taibbi Nails It: The American Press Is Destroying Itself

by William Skink

The most provocative thing about Matt Taibbi’s latest piece is the accuracy of the title: The American Press Is Destroying Itself.

The censorious, woke tantrum throwers that comprise the corpse of the political left in America is brutally described by Taibbi thusly:

The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation. They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily.

They’ve conned organization after organization into empowering panels to search out thoughtcrime, and it’s established now that anything can be an offense, from a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” out loud to a data scientist fired* from a research firm for — get this — retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones!

Taibbi goes on to describe how this woke cancel culture has moved it’s mob-like focus onto journalism:

Now, this madness is coming for journalism. Beginning on Friday, June 5th, a series of controversies rocked the media. By my count, at least eight news organizations dealt with internal uprisings (it was likely more). Most involved groups of reporters and staffers demanding the firing or reprimand of colleagues who’d made politically “problematic” editorial or social media decisions.

The New York Times, the Intercept, Vox, the Philadelphia Inquirier, Variety, and others saw challenges to management.

Probably the most disturbing story involved Intercept writer Lee Fang, one of a fast-shrinking number of young reporters actually skilled in investigative journalism. Fang’s work in the area of campaign finance especially has led to concrete impact, including a record fine to a conservative Super PAC: few young reporters have done more to combat corruption.

So what was Lee Fang’s thought crime? Asking questions, apparently:

Yet Fang found himself denounced online as a racist, then hauled before H.R. His crime? During protests, he tweeted this interview with an African-American man named Maximum Fr, who described having two cousins murdered in the East Oakland neighborhood where he grew up. Saying his aunt is still not over those killings, Max asked:

I always question, why does a Black life matter only when a white man takes it?… Like, if a white man takes my life tonight, it’s going to be national news, but if a Black man takes my life, it might not even be spoken of… It’s stuff just like that that I just want in the mix.

Shortly after, a co-worker of Fang’s, Akela Lacy, wrote, “Tired of being made to deal continually with my co-worker @lhfang continuing to push black on black crime narratives after being repeatedly asked not to. This isn’t about me and him, it’s about institutional racism and using free speech to couch anti-blackness. I am so fucking tired.” She followed with, “Stop being racist Lee.”

If you think Fang was “using free speech to couch anti-blackness” then you are an idiot. Not just an idiot, but a useful idiot destroying the last vestiges of journalistic credibility by demanding Orwellian thought crime censorship.

I see non-journalists on platforms like Twitter celebrating these little mutinies and I truly wonder how they can’t see the extreme slipperiness of the slope they’re on. Taibbi continues describing the fallout from the mob’s attack on Fang’s RACISM!!!

Like many reporters, Fang has always viewed it as part of his job to ask questions in all directions. He’s written critically of political figures on the center-left, the left, and “obviously on the right,” and his reporting has inspired serious threats in the past. None of those past experiences were as terrifying as this blitz by would-be colleagues, which he described as “jarring,” “deeply isolating,” and “unique in my professional experience.”

To save his career, Fang had to craft a public apology for “insensitivity to the lived experience of others.” According to one friend of his, it’s been communicated to Fang that his continued employment at The Intercept is contingent upon avoiding comments that may upset colleagues. Lacy to her credit publicly thanked Fang for his statement and expressed willingness to have a conversation; unfortunately, the throng of Intercept co-workers who piled on her initial accusation did not join her in this.

These social justice censors and cancel culture warriors think they are fighting systemic racism with these attacks, but what they are actually doing is limiting discourse, alienating allies, undermining journalistic credibility (the little that remains) and empowering their enemies by embracing the stereotypes foisted upon them by their ideological opponents.

With regard to the outrage directed at Lee Fang, the strangest part is that it’s not even comments Fang made himself that generated this bullshit controversy, but someone he was interviewing, an African-American man nonetheless. So essentially this manifestation of cancel culture is actually silencing the perspective of a black man.

How fucked up is that?

Unlike the liberal, white hand-wringers of cancel culture, Matt Taibbi isn’t interested in silencing voices. Here is Fang’s interviewee commenting on the craziness of the mob:

Max himself was stunned to find out that his comments on all this had created a Twitter firestorm. “I couldn’t believe they were coming for the man’s job over something I said,” he recounts. “It was not Lee’s opinion. It was my opinion.”

By phone, Max spoke of a responsibility he feels Black people have to speak out against all forms of violence, “precisely because we experience it the most.” He described being affected by the Floyd story, but also by the story of retired African-American police captain David Dorn, shot to death in recent protests in St. Louis. He also mentioned Tony Timpa, a white man whose 2016 asphyxiation by police was only uncovered last year. In body-camera footage, police are heard joking after Timpa passed out and stopped moving, “I don’t want to go to school! Five more minutes, Mom!”

“If it happens to anyone, it has to be called out,” Max says.

Wow, what an equitable point of view! But is it THE RIGHT TIME to be equitable in our outrage toward the violence of the police state?

Max described discussions in which it was argued to him that bringing up these other incidents now is not helpful to the causes being articulated at the protests. He understands that point of view. He just disagrees.

“They say, there has to be the right time and a place to talk about that,” he says. “But my point is, when? I want to speak out now.” He pauses. “We’ve taken the narrative, and instead of being inclusive with it, we’ve become exclusive with it. Why?”

That is a damn good question, Max. My hunch is TPTB prefer stoking a race war to keep a class war from materializing.

But that’s just a hunch.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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6 Responses to Matt Taibbi Nails It: The American Press Is Destroying Itself

  1. JC says:

    “My hunch is TPTB prefer stoking a race war to keep a class war from materializing.”

    My hunch is that’s why “they” killed MLK as he moved beyond leading a racial justice movement to stoking a class revolution. A race war is much more “black and white” and manageable/manipulable than a class war of have-nots vs. haves. Or more specifically, the TPTB neofeudalists vs. the serfs.

    Inverted totalitarianism is the reigning structure today. And anything that threatens it will be suppressed if not outright eliminated.

    Revisiting Sheldon Wolin, in his interview before he died with Chris Hedges, we can begin to understand how this process has been working in the “journalistic” world, in cancel culture and with SJ censors. Reading Wolin sheds much light on today’s world.

    …Cultural wars might seem an indication of strong political involvements,” [Wolin] writes. “Actually they are a substitute. The notoriety they receive from the media and from politicians eager to take firm stands on nonsubstantive issues serves to distract attention and contribute to a cant politics of the inconsequential.”

    “The ruling groups can now operate on the assumption that they don’t need the traditional notion of something called a public in the broad sense of a coherent whole,” he said in our meeting. “They now have the tools to deal with the very disparities and differences that they have themselves helped to create. It’s a game in which you manage to undermine the cohesiveness that the public requires if they [the public] are to be politically effective. And at the same time, you create these different, distinct groups that inevitably find themselves in tension or at odds or in competition with other groups, so that it becomes more of a melee than it does become a way of fashioning majorities…”

    • john mcnaught says:

      jc, I’m an “Occams Razor” kind of guy. I’ll stick with Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi and leave Wolin to you . Very interesting post though.

  2. S Brennan says:

    Right on Mr. Skink, Justice for all or…or I’ll just go my own way, let other folks get their panties all in a bunch…yep..not playing their game.

    Game playing DNCers let’s get this straight, you talk shit to me and I will find a way to electorally get back at you. I am not one of those, “well, if I can’t vote for an FDRist Democrat I’ll just sit this one out”, nope, I’ll vote for whoever is most likely to overturn an Al-From* D and yeah, I mean it, serious as an heart attack

    *Please google “Al From”; if you don’t already know who he is…and if you don’t, you’re probably not ready for prime time….

    • john mcnaught says:

      We need to vote for a democrat (Biden is my last choice) so we can extirpate the current Republican party and all its minions as a political force. We really are restricted in our choice. Al From is not my idea of any type of democrat either the party or philosophical construct.

  3. john mcnaught says:

    william, the word fuck has completely become useless. Too many definitions 🙂

  4. john mcnaught says:

    Oh, I forgot Bring back the Fairness Doctrine. It was not perfect but it worked for many years.

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