My father had a heart attack a week ago. I say this not to invite sympathy—there are few things I hate more than discussing my family life online—but just to explain where I’ve been. Because the internet is a machine engineered to produce anxiety, which I manage to produce plenty of on my own, I took Twitter (and Slack) off my phone while I was visiting my father in a hospital halfway across the country. While I’ve been offline, my podcasting partner Matt Taibbi has been asked to reckon with his past once again. He reached out late last week to let me know he has decided that we should end our podcast, The Tarfu Report. If it weren’t for my own situation, I might have argued against it, but I’m not feeling very funny at the moment myself.
As of today, I’m back to work, and back online. I’ve never thought it was appropriate for me to speak for Matt, and he’s never asked me to defend him, but I still ought to explain myself to everyone who’s asked me about him over the last week (and earlier). When he first approached me about working with him at First Look Media a few years ago, I was well aware of the Exile stories. But he told me then, and has told me numerous times since then, that the worst shit described in that book simply didn’t happen—that it was fabricated by his former collaborator, who thought it was funny or cool or satirical or something else completely unclear. I believe Matt. Maybe that’s naive or self-serving of me, and maybe you don’t believe him, but based on everything I know about the people involved, I do.
This doesn’t explain or excuse every single dodgy thing Matt’s ever written—or not written, but attached his name to—over the years, but it’s why I’m comfortable working with him. As far as I’ve ever known, there’s no long line of accusers or “open secrets” about his behavior, just dumb shit he wrote, and worse shit his former partner wrote, that he regrets.
I don’t think Matt is the character he played in the ‘90s. I think he said and did some idiotic shit, but nothing monstrous. And I know he sincerely regrets it, and has spent years working to be a better and more enlightened journalist and human being.
I’ll miss doing the show with him and I hope you enjoyed it.