- The Racket
- The 52 Funniest Things About Matt Taibbi Changing the Name of His Substack to 'Racket,' Too
The 52 Funniest Things About Matt Taibbi Changing the Name of His Substack to 'Racket,' Too
Honestly, I’m flattered.
Note: In 2005, journalist Matt Taibbi hastened the bankruptcy of his then-employer, the New York Press, by publishing a column titled “The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope.” In that vein, I present the funniest things about a much older, much more reactionary Taibbi changing his newsletter’s name and web address to — you read that right — Racket.
Smedley Butler rolls over in grave.
Salty, aging Gen X bros use increasingly arthritic fingers to Google “racket.news,” pull up theracket.news instead; subscription dollars pour in.
Matt pisses himself just before posting; gets all over nurse.
Plagiarism accusations from fans of other Rackets force Matt to remind everyone that, nine years before selling his soul to Elon Musk, he partnered with another billionaire to launch a magazine called Racket, only to have it shuttered before launch due to Taibbi having been “verbally abusive and unprofessionally hostile” to an employee. And that his conduct was allegedly “motivated, at least in part, by [said employee’s] gender.” Thus reminding us all that, to some extent, he has always been this way.
Opportunity for one of us to re-re-dub newsletter “Racket 2: Racket Harder”
Admission that after spending several years stuck with a name (“TK News”) that literally meant “Insert Name of Website Here” in journalismese, he still has no new ideas.
Will be even funnier if/when he doesn’t do an issue excoriating Elon — with trademark unreserved vitriol — for actually doing the thing Matt and his new fash friends accused Twitter’s previous owners of doing in the “Twitter Files”: suppressing tweets about and breaking links to a documentary critical of an authoritarian government. (The Intercept reports that Musk may have been motivated, in true racketeer style, “by his own business interests in India, where Tesla has been lobbying, so far without luck, to win tax breaks to enter the Indian market.”)
Renaming special: Every new subscriber gets a free tube of Ivermectin
Fun new poorly kerned banner over posts kissing up to Tucker Carlson
Russiaaaagaaaaaate!!! (That’s the whole joke. It kills with Taibbi’s new readers.)
New slogan for this newsletter: “The Racket whose author didn’t co-write a book about how ‘funny’ it was to spend your twenties forcing Russian women to go ‘under the table to give you blow jobs.’”
Or: “The Racket whose author also didn’t claim they told the women ‘that if they wanted to keep their jobs, they’d have to perform unprotected anal sex with us.’”
When confronted years later, Taibbi copped to having been a “jerk” who did “a lot of wrong things in my life,” but claimed all the stuff about sexual harassment (and his co-editor sleeping with underage women) was satire. (Ha … ha?)
He also claimed that his book was “fiction,” even though his publisher categorized it on the back cover as “Popular Culture” and “History (Russia).”
Also, the Washington Post’s Kathy Lally seemed pretty sincere when she claimed Taibbi and Ames had “terrorized women correspondents in Moscow.”
Also, it seems pretty clear that getting rung up on the periphery of #MeToo played a huge role in Taibbi’s subsequent heel turn from celebrated leftist gadfly to angry old man shaking fist at anti-racists and those damn college kids.
But who knows!
Anyway, enjoy reading Matt’s newly renamed mix of “nonfiction” and “satire” on Substack.
You know it’s hard to come up with 52 of these? (Fortunately, Taibbi didn’t bother trying to do that in the original either.)
The funniest part is that this is all just a scam of capital exploitation in which precariously employed journalists fight over a limited pool of subscribers while billionaire VCs like Marc Andreessen and Elon Musk sit back and watch their percentages roll in.
… billionaires who the one-time author of [checks notes] Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America seems extremely comfortable partnering directly with.
Also is it just me or is there just a frisson of antisemitism (a bissel of Judenhass?) in using “vampire squids” to describe international bankers? Just me? OK.
At least both Rackets will be better written than Greenwald’s newsletter.
Idea for next Taibbi memoir title: From Horse Sperm to Horse Paste: The Matt Taibbi Story. That’s free for you to use, Matt.
Think anyone will notice if I just skip down to 15? That was old enough to date the eXile boys, allegedly, hey-o.
Another funny thing about Taibbi using “racket” is that he was an extremely rich kid (his high school’s current tuition: $68,840 a year) and a nepo baby (dad was a big shot TV journo) who made a career trolling the rich under the banner of some of the most powerful media properties in America, and now makes at least $1 million annually telling deep-pocketed Boomers terrified of social change that it’s the reformers and civil-rights activists who are the real fascists.
“Racket.” Get it?
I almost considered paying for a monthly sub to figure out what, specifically, Taibbi has said in a few choice paywalled newsletters — for instance, in defense of the transphobic hatemonger @LibsofTikTok — but, nah.
Smedley Butler was also a nepo baby, but in his War is a Racket years he rallied alongside anti-racists and anti-fascists and didn’t dismiss the Business Plot as a “massive LARP that got out of hand.” In other words, Taibbi and Bari Weiss, et al., would have called him a hyperventilating wokester who pushed “successor ideology,” and blasted him for trying to get Mussolini canceled.
But if Butler did roll over in his grave, I bet Bunny would use the line she’s been saving for 61 years: “Smedley! Cut out that racket!”
Criiiittticall Raaaaacceee Theeeoryy!!! (Again, huge hit at Racket 2.)
Something, something, bursts into flames
The thing about Taibbi is that I used to have a lot of respect for him. He was a dogged reporter who wrote angrily about people who deserved a lot of anger.
Yes, he was extremely heavy-handed. (And yes, he was a complete ass, as many of his female colleagues immediately and correctly pegged.) But you didn’t come to a Taibbi piece expecting boring Poynter Institute-approved prose. You expected a guy with an unmovable moral compass; a journalist who wouldn’t blanch at calling a lie a lie, a coup a coup, or world leaders a gang of thieves and perverts.
I imagine that Taibbi was someone would have had zero patience for a journalist, who, say, leaped to the defense of a powerful senator who called for the United States military to show “no quarter” to unarmed protesters — claiming he only wanted a widdy biddy “show of force.”
Or who called for the reinstatement of a mainstream newspaper opinion editor fired for running the world-historically tone-deaf headline “Buildings Matter, Too” — at a time when Black Lives Matter protesters were getting maced, stomped, and run over by cops in the streets — because said headline writer supposedly “expressed a view held by 89% of the population,” according to a rather tendentious reading of a single poll.
And also because Wines had given Vladimir Putin the unearned benefit of the doubt in a recent interview.
And who pilfered a perfectly good, already-in-use URL to rebrand a real-life racket of his own.
In fact, he’d probably have wanted to hit him in the face with a particularly spunky pie.