Matt Taibbi Isn’t Sexist

He dislikes everyone, equally

For the record, Matt Taibbi’s no misogynist. Or, well, even if he is, he’s sexist on top of being ageist and looksist and generally misanthropic—and, as such, any umbrage taken at the sexist comments he makes is clearly invalid, losing sight, as it does, of the bigger picture of Taibbian Misanthropy.

For the record, as well, I’m no anti-Taibbite: charges of various “isms” leveled against Taibbi—the list of the individuals and groups the writer has insulted through his Rolling Stone oeuvre—come courtesy of…Taibbi himself. In, specifically, the self-defense he penned against the criticisms of the feminist novelist, essayist and poet Erica Jong, who cried sexism at Taibbi’s reference, in a recent RS piece, to Hillary Clinton’s “flabby” arms:

In the space of three short months, I’ve contrived to write two lengthy, gloating political obituaries for Hillary Clinton, only to see both of them blow up in my face after fantastic eleventh-hour comebacks that ended with scenes of the Hillmeister doing the dual flabby-arm raise on CNN while gusts of confetti whooshed across the room, obscuring almost everything except the shocking results blaring out from the crawl on the bottom of the screen.

Jong (probably rightly) found a bit of gender bias in Taibbi’s reference: “Physical mockery ended in seventh grade, I thought,” she wrote yesterday, in the Huffington Post, “—but apparently not where women pols are concerned.” Jong then (probably wrongly) went on to blame Taibbi’s supposed misogyny on “Momism,” a kind of nouveau-Freudian interpretation of American Pie’s MILF theory:

So what is wrong with American men? Particularly male journalists. I think it was discovered long ago and labeled “Momism” by Philip Wylie in a virulently sexist book 1942 book called Generation of Vipers. The book went through many, many printings in the forties and fifties. It apparently struck many nerves. Momism is a kind of Oedipal obsession with the bad mother — to counter a boy’s attraction to his good mother.

Anyway. Taibbi, this afternoon—and also in the HuffPost—responded to Jong’s criticism, in a piece entitled “Erica Jong Thinks I Want to Do My Mother: A Response,” in which, proving that he is neither Freudian nor Jong-ian, he helpfully cited various mean-spirited/insulting/tasteless things he’s said about male politicians. (Take that, accusations-of-sexism! He doesn’t like guys, either!) In Taibbi’s own words:

RUDY GIULIANI, former presidential candidate: “Virtually neckless, all shoulders and forehead and overbite, with a hunched-over, Draculoid posture that recalls, oddly enough, George W. Bush, the vestigial stoop of a once-chubby kid who grew up hiding tittie pictures from nuns.” Also: “The electoral incarnation of Tommy Lee Jones’ acid-bath-surviving Two-Face character.” A “bottomless pit of vengeful little-guy ambition.”

MARK PENN, former chief strategist for the Clinton campaign: “Penn is the Democratic version of Karl Rove. He even looks like Rove, only he’s fatter and more disgusting. Up close in a forum like this, his eyes bulge out of his fat, blood-flushed head; his neck spills out of his too-tight shirt collar; and he generally looks like Jabba the Hutt, his suit bursting at the seams, with only the bowl of snackable live toads suspended at arm’s length missing from the picture.”

MIKE HUCKABEE, former presidential candidate: “Huckabee, who in recent years has lost 100 pounds, has the roundish, half-deflated physique of an ex-fatty. With his button nose and never-waning smile, he looks slightly unreal, like an oversize Muppet.”

TOM DELAY, former House majority leader: “DeLay moves through the aisles like some kind of balding incubus, and as he passes, Republican members instinctively turn their backs on him, not wanting to be caught in the Gorgon’s gaze (or, more to the point, be threatened with the loss of a chairmanship or reelection funding).”

JAMES SENSENBRENNER, former House Judiciary Committee Chairman: “An ever-sweating, fat-fingered beast who wields his gavel in a way that makes you think he might have used one before in some other arena, perhaps to beat prostitutes to death.” Also: “Your basic Fat Evil Prick, perfectly cast as a dictatorial committee chairman: He has the requisite moist-with-sweat pink neck, the dour expression, the penchant for pointless bile and vengefulness.”

MITT ROMNEY, former presidential candidate: An “utter tool…a poll-chasing stuffed suit with a Max Headroom hairdo who will say (or won’t say, for that matter) whatever the fuck it takes to get elected.” Also: “When it comes to the satanic art of presidential campaigning, this lean, heavily moussed political athlete is a stone prodigy, a natural who glides through campaign events with the aid of some dark supernatural power - a tie-clad, sweat-resistant cross of Roy Hobbs and Rosemary’s Baby.”

BORIS YELTSIN, former Russian president: “A pig… A human appendage of a rotting, corrupt state, a crook who would emerge even from the hottest bath still stinking of booze, concrete and sausage.”

TOM TANCREDO, former presidential candidate: “Vengeful midget.”

JOHN McCAIN, Republican nominee: “On the trail, McCain looks equally pathetic — slow-moving, soft-spoken and physically frail. With his lecturing tone and corny jokes (‘Governor Schwarzenegger and I have many similar attributes’), he recalls the moralizing granddad who’s not a bad egg overall but who embarrasses the fuck out of you by waiting till your late thirties to give you the birds-and-the-bees speech.”

Gotta hand it to Taibbi: he makes his point. This is a guy, after all, who once wrote a piece about John Paul II entitled “The 52 Funniest Things About the Upcoming Death of the Pope.” No sexism here, folks: as Taibbi himself makes clear, his own special brand of misanthropy is nothing if not equal-opportunity.

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.