Rolling Stone may be all but irrelevant in the music world but it's political reporting is still pretty hot. In fact, I wish Wenner would just launch a new poltical imprint so I can get all the Taibbi, O'Rourke and the like without the embarrassment of some High School Musical himbo peeking out from my bag on the El. Until then, I'll make do with their online reporting.
Matt Taibbi picks up the gonzo mantel from our hero and patron saint, Hunter S. Thompson who pioneered the art of personal political reporting (for better or worse given the glut of media "personalities" in the news today) in the early 1970s with hilarious and brutal articles for the Stone and the must-read Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72.
Things got weird with Taibbi a few years ago when he started trailing the candidates in a gorilla suit. When you're one face in a sea of reporters who follow the campaigns from stop to stop reporting on the same speech day after day, you might not think a gorilla suit is such a bad idea after a while.
Taibbi isn't just a gimmick horse though. His reporting for Rolling Stone over the last couple years has been some of the best, balls out essays on the state of politics in America and the personalities and issues involved. Just last month—BEFORE the latest shit storm regarding the murder of unarmed citizens in Iraq hit—he filed a scathing report on the use of military contractors in war and the dangers posed by what are literally men above the law.
You can bet Year of the Rat will be a first stop on my morning rounds.
A sample of his first post after the jump.
An excerpt from Matt Taibbi's first post in Year of the Rat:
...Thompson's handlers cued his campaign video, entitled "The Hunt For Red November." The signature propaganda piece in a campaign that labors openly to blur media fantasy and political reality, the video is additionally confusing in that it starts off with a photo array of Democratic candidates Edwards, Hillary and Obama, interspersed with a dramatic HUNT FOR RED NOVEMBER title frame set against a frankly "Red" background. I thought they were trying to say something about the "Reds" on the other ticket, and so did someone in the crowd behind me. "Do they mean communiss?" I heard someone whisper in an Iowan twang.
So I ran to Todd Harris, the Thompson campaign's press guy, just to check. He seemed pissed by the question. "No," he sighed. "Red November, red state. Republican."
"Right, but in the original movie, it was Red like Lenin Red, and you've got Hillary and Edwards there all covered in red... Do we want a Red November, or do we not want a Red November?"
"We want it. Now it means Republican," he said, trying to smile, then walked away.
After that Thompson gave his first stump speech, an understated thing designed to cast him, in stark contrast to the other flawed candidates of his party, as a pure nice-guy conservative. A good actor, Thompson's aw-shucks demeanor and near-constant emphasis on his humble roots and decided lack of megalomaniacal instinct makes his stump speech into a kind of political version of the late Phil Hartman's famous "I'm just a simple caveman!" SNL skit, which when you think about it is a near-perfect sales pitch for Red State voters.