On First Look and Matt Taibbi

Interesting stuff here.

And there’s a line from an old management book (Robert Townsend’s “Up the Organisation”). About how a great salesman gets promoted to being a sales manager and is left there in the central office not knowing what the fuck he’s doing. Great at charming the customers but not as a manager of those who do (akin to the lesson of that other great management book, The Peter Principle).

Taibbi can, on his day, produce prose of the most remarkable wonder. I still recall a piece of his in The Exile (in fact, I think it was the one before that, the one that went spectacularly bust) from the mid-90s where the central set up is Yeltsin waking up after a cocaine binge and wondering what the hell has happened to the Soviet Union?

His economics isn’t so hot but no one has everything.

But his ability to do that isn’t necessarily an indication of his ability to manage an organisation and a budget. Which is what seems to have happened here. The assumption was made that because he can write that he can manage.

14 thoughts on “On First Look and Matt Taibbi”

  1. So Much for Subtlety

    hese simmering problems came to a head this month when a Racket staffer complained to senior management that Taibbi had been verbally abusive and unprofessionally hostile, and that she felt the conduct may have been motivated, at least in part, by her gender.

    Those who live by gender smears shall die by gender smears. Myself, as with the White chick getting whistled at by so many Brothers, I am happy to sit back and watch the Social Justice Warriors disembowel each other.

    The question I have is why they asked Alex Pareene to make a statement. Alex is, I assume, of the generally female persuasion. Like the person who complained. Which is, I am sure, a total co-incidence, right?


    I witnessed no behavior on his part that I would characterize as “abusive,” and his hostility was reserved for his superiors, not his subordinates.

    So that’s all right then is it? Nothing wrong with sneering at the gentleman who pays the bills? Nothing unprofessional about attacking your manager behind his back?

    I also categorically reject the allegation that there was a gendered component to his managerial issues.

    So he had managerial issues then.

    Yet another propaganda outfit for the Left funded by Silicon Valley billionaires. Those who the Gods would destroy they first drive into insane spending decisions. I can’t wait for Vox to go the same way.

  2. “Second, the newsroom would avoid rigid top-down hierarchies and instead would be driven by the journalists and their stories.”

    These people are always trying to reinvent the wheel. They have a nice way with words, but don’t understand human nature, which explains their politics. Thus they think workers (hacks) can get by just fine without bosses (editors), thanks to the purity of their goals. Thing is, they forgot that most journalists at this level are petty, jealous, vindictive egotists, and also lazy, amoral thieves (whether they steal the company’s time or money, or each other’s ideas and contacts, or both).

    These are precisely the kind of people who need keeping in line via occasional sackings and humiliations.

  3. @SMFS “The question I have is why they asked Alex Pareene to make a statement. Alex is, I assume, of the generally female persuasion. Like the person who complained. Which is, I am sure, a total co-incidence, right?”

    Actually, judging by the beard it’s a bloke, but given its wispiness, the availability of various hormone treatments and the general confusedness of these people one should not jump to conclusions.

  4. The mistake most managers commit is to think that they need to whip their staff into their form when the better way is for the manager to adapt to the ways of their staff. The manager is the one who has to handle all the different personalities and work with each member of staff to get the best out of them, not force them all to work to the manager’s way of working.

  5. bloke (not) in spain

    It’s never ceased to surprise me how people will refuse to appreciate how individuals will game situations to their personal advantage & persist in creating structures rely on personal altruism.
    Despite being gamers of situations for personal advantage, themselves.
    First & most important rule of management. Before you try understand other people, understand yourself.

  6. Taibbi is a first rate writer – don’t agree with everything he says, but the man knows his words.

    I did worry slightly when he joined forces with that charlatan Greenwald, but according to reports he’s gone back to Rolling Stone where he was doing splendid work.

  7. His Exile pieces were good, it’s where I first heard of him. Shame The Exile went to the wall, it was fun in its day. The Field Guide to Moscow deserved to be in the national archives.

    As for management…yes, it’s easy. But you’d be amazed at how few can actually do it. The entire population of France, for example.

  8. Gee, another Suburban Marxist attempts to act like a grown-up for a week and fails miserably. Couldn’t have seen that coming, could you?

    The fact that MT can, under certain circumstances, spin words quite well doesn’t change the fact that he’s both a blowhard and an intellectual featherweight. You don’t end up writing for Rolling Stone because what you have to say is of much Real World value to the adults in the room (as proved recently by Paul Krugman).

  9. Bloke in Costa Rica

    “[Pierre Omidyar’s] vision was a hard-hitting, satirical magazine in the style of the old Spy that would employ Taibbi’s facility for merciless ridicule, humor, and parody to attack Wall Street and the corporate world.”

    In other words like every other glorified Leftist webzine out there. Let’s attack, like, the system, maaaaaan. With, like, a quarter of a billion dollars in venture capital, maaaaan. For fuck’s sake. As for Rolling Stone, it’s about as relevant today as Tiger Beat. I’m surtprised they still publish it (Rolling Stone, I mean, not Tiger Beat.)

  10. Interested

    A good read thanks.

    I do wonder if Tim would find it a more impactful use of his time to fisk the likes of Owen Jones than Murphy. Jones does have a much wider audience and surprisingly little dissection of his output. But it does look like the mysterious Henry had to put a wee bit of effort into chasing the sources up to see all the problems.

    Also I’m not sure whether any of Jones’s fans care care about any errors anyway. Tim used to do a regular fisk of Polly Toynbee but it didn’t seem to raise the standard of debate at CiF or stop erroneous tropes turning up. I guess Tim just got bored of repeating himself!

  11. @MBE

    I don’t think people like Jones, Toynbee, Brand and Murphy are remotely interested in facts – facts, as we know, trend conservative.

    They’re interested in headline statements which pander to existing prejudices and in stirring up man against man for personal gain – something of which we’re probably all guilty, but which ‘the left’ is far worse at (or better than) than ‘the right’.

    Can’t speak for Tim, but I think Murphy is close to being a busted flush – thanks in part to his sterling work.

    Moving on to Jones or Brand or someone else higher profile might be more interesting and productive. I assume a few of us on here could and would assist. But it’s his call of course, and I still enjoy the Murphstruction.

  12. Well, the example is used to justify the hiring of fresh-out-of-uni star management graduates to run processes because they will obviously be better than those who have previously done the process being run, because having done the process being run doesn’t (according to the example) give you a fuck of a clue about how to manage the process. Rather, being a star management graduate does.

    And then, when they fuck up, the hiring of fresh-out-of-uni star graduates via a management consultancy firm, at 3 times the price, for them to fly in business class for 3 days per week for months on end to tell those star graduates hired how to manage the process, because, being totally inexperienced but having a management “degree” would be better at managing processes they don’t know anything the fuck about, on the basis that as they also have a management degree but have never actually done anything, will be better at putting the star management graduates on the right track to managing a process they know nothing the fuck about than those that have spent a career doing the process neither manager nor consultant know anything the fuck about.

    And so the managerialism circle continues.

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