NPR, Supposed Oasis of Civility, Promotes Hard-Left 'Enfant Terrible' Matt Taibbi

On their NPR Books Facebook page, the taxpayer-funded liberal sandbox carries this promotional copy for the latest socialist Occu-porn from Matt Taibbi: "Poverty goes up. Crime goes down. The prison population doubles. Fraud by the rich wipes out 40 percent of the world's wealth. The rich get massively richer. No one goes to jail."

It doesn’t have to be technically true (Bernie Madoff, etc., etc.), but you get the point. All this led to NPR’s six-minute interview with Taibbi on Sunday's All Things Considered promoting his book The Divide. No critics of Taibbi were considered. No one at NPR was even willing to address the question of branding confusion: why is this so-called Oasis of Civility bowing toward one of the rudest left-wing bomb-throwers in the world of journalism? (The same can be said for Jon "Rally for Sanity" Stewart, who fawned over Taibbi on Monday night's Daily Show.)

I must confess my knee jerks first to his John Paul-mocking "52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope," about which he proclaimed he had no shame, but New York magazine has a list of pranks from the "former enfant terrible of political journalism" (albeit with admiration):

What people expect, of course, is the ribald, loudly antagonistic voice of a writer who is, in his own words, “full of outrage.” The guy who compared Goldman Sachs to a “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

The reporter who dropped acid, donned a Viking hat and wraparound sunglasses, and had a nice casual chat with the former deputy head of the Office of National Drug Policy, the same policymaker responsible for the “This Is Your Brain on Drugs” advertising campaign.

And the person who, as the editor of a Moscow paper, marched into the local offices of the Times and slammed a pie filled with horse semen into the face of a reporter he deemed a “hack.” The unfiltered, uncowed Matt Taibbi who once dumped coffee on an interviewer from Vanity Fair and then chased him down the street.


The NPR.org copy oozed "Investigative journalist and author Matt Taibbi has long reported on American politics and business. With an old-school muckraker's nose for corruption, he examined the events leading up to the 2008 financial crisis in Griftopia. With Gonzo zeal, he described a two-party political system splintered into extreme factions in The Great Derangement."

The only flinch toward a liberal label was the "Gonzo zeal" part, or maybe the "old-school muckaker." But never an L-word.

NPR's Kelly McEvers used the same ooze in her on-air introduction: "The dramatic and sordid tales of white-collar crime are familiar territory for writer Matt Taibbi. He wrote about them for years for Rolling Stone magazine. His pieces are an accessible way to a sometimes inaccessible subject, quick and dirty explanations of the kind of behind-the-scenes dealings that led to the financial meltdown in 2008. Taibbi stopped by our studios in New York this week to talk about his new book called The Divide. It's about an American judicial system that sees corporations as too big to fail, while seeing poor people as, quote, "small enough to jail."

McEvers closed out the interview by suggesting there weren't enough angry socialists on this white-collar crime beat:

McEVERS: Do you think we should -- I mean, there should be more resources dedicated to covering these kinds of stories? I mean, is one of the problems that there are just not enough journalists on the cause to expose this stuff?

TAIBBI: There are a number of problems with the way white-collar crime is covered in the press. Broad audiences tend not to be interested in the day-to-day goings on at Wall Street. And so your typical financial reporter is somebody who's from this world who maybe wants to work in an investment bank and he writes in the language and the jargon of people who work on Wall Street. And those stories tend to be completely inaccessible to ordinary audiences.

Over time, I think a kind of Stockholm Syndrome develops. It's kind of the same thing that happens with campaign reporters and candidates. You start to sort of sympathize with the people you cover in this weird, subterranean, psychological way. And I think what ends up happening is these stories get written about, but they get written without outrage or without the right tone. They're sort of written for Wall Street audiences who want to find out how this lawsuit turned out.

They may not want to see those people thrown in jail. They just might be interested in seeing, you know, how far the government is willing to go this week in putting white-collar offenders in jail.

If someone signed up to cover the Obama White House and it was considered a requirement that they "want to see Obama and his people thrown in jail," it might be said they lacked enough detachment. But this is the kind of sharp-fanged antagonism NPR and Taibbi want in the Wall Street press.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis