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Hullabaloo


Thursday, December 19, 2013

 
*This post will stay at the top of the page for a while. Please scroll down for newer material.

Fear and loathing in the blogosphere featuring Hunter S. Thompson and Matt Taibbi

by digby


"I think I was more offended by Humphrey's treachery than by Nixon's pure evil..."

The first real narrative I ever read about the American political process was Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail in Rolling Stone. That probably explains a lot about how I see politics. But then I'm a product of a weird time in American history when politics was simultaneously inspiring and disillusioning --- sort of like now. In fact, in going back to look at Fear and Loathing in preparation for this post, I was struck by just how much the atmosphere of that time reminds me of today. (Kids, some of us 70s throwbacks can relate to you better than you might think.)

And, like then, such times require a certain kind of journalist to help us through it.  Sure, we need thoughtful, careful, detailed analysts. That goes without saying. But we also need writers who, as George McGovern says in that clip, go beyond that to express a truth that can only be seen if you see through the niceties of establishment manners and mores to see it. Then it was the new journalism personified by Hunter S. Thompson. Today, it's the new journalism being practiced by Matt Taibbi --- or Glenn Greenwald, Michael Hastings, Jeremy Scahill and documentary producers like Michael Moore and Robert Greenwald.

Taibbi is a particular heir to Thompson, although I have no idea if sees himself that way.  It's more than just the total unwillingness to put up with standard conventional bullshit, although they do share that characteristic. It's a felicitous writing style that captures our surreal times with perfect accuracy. For instance:
The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money
It just doesn't get any better than that.

I have no illusion that I'm that kind of writer. But I do care about good writing and it's something I take seriously, beyond just documenting the atrocities. At the very least, there's nothing I enjoy more than finding a beautiful phrase like that from another writer and pulling out and linking to it here. It makes me happy just to see it on the page.

And I also try to see a little bit ahead, as all of those writers I mentioned above try to do, and which McGovern explicitly compliments Thompson for having done in the 72 campaign. I think of it as preparing the soil for people to believe what's happening once it makes its way into the broader culture. It's important to have train spotters in the culture and I believe that this is one of the most important contributions of the independent bloggers like those of us here at Hullabaloo or Emptywheel or Atrios or the bloggers at Americablog or Daily Kos. We are the progressive look-outs, the ones who see what's coming and give fair warning.

One of the best quotes anyone's ever given about me came from the great James Wolcott who said "Digby's blog is a Paul Revere gallop through the pitched night of the Bush years." (You can't blame me for sharing that ...) And with that comes a certain amount of angst from readers who see me as a Cassandra who is always forecasting doom. But the truth is that I'm actually a pretty positive person who has been watching this era of Vampire Squids and Village elites and martial fetishism with sincere alarm and hoping that my small, shrill voice within the din will help steer the ship away from the iceberg. My hope is that at the very least I can help amplify the voices of the brave journalists and commentators who are telling the truths that need to be told.

And I need your help to keep doing that. If you think the independent blogosphere is worth keeping around, that our function here is something you value, I'd be very grateful for your support.





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