Matt Taibbi:the system doesn't work when journalists are all nice people

Over at True/Slant, Rolling Stone political reporter Matt Taibbi not only defends Zero Hedge but gives what I think is an excellent argument as to why journalists should, by and large, be assholes, at least from the perspective of those we cover. Not to mention why a percentage of them should be, in fact, stone cold crazy. (Which some would argue you have to be anyway to pursue such a frustrating career, even when the main industry isn’t cratering.) And really, it’s not about style: I can look “aggressive” and never come close to challenging the status quo and its enforcers, or I can be polite, courteous and mild and eviscerate those who do evil in this world. Think of Stephen Colbert: he never once left character as a slightly manic right-wing ideologue, and he managed to slaughter the Bush hypocrisy—mere feet from the president himself. If a comedian has that kind of cojones, what about those of us supposedly dedicated to afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted?

I’ve also recently read Stowe Boyd’s takedown of the Washington Post’s new social media rules (which are horrible) and made a comment on how journalists have turned objectivity, the act of at least trying not to let your biases control your coverage, into a simpering refusal to take any stand on the facts and instead produce copy where somehow the truth becomes a political football to be kicked around by partisans who care mostly about keeping facts from ruining whatever scheme they’re running right now. And yes, there are people like this on all sides (I adamantly refuse to reduce politics, culture, etc. to the simplistic two sides).

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