Civil Liberties

the eXile in Exile

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Here's Sean McMeekin writing in reason in 2001, in an article about the eXile, the irreverent muckraking Moscow tabloid founded by Matt Taibbi and Mark Ames:

Ames and Taibbi often remark that their paper would be shut down in a minute if it were published in New York or Washington, if not for unlawful slander then by armies of enraged feminists, anti-obscenity activists, and sexual harassment lawyers. In light of the heat generated by the eXile just among the expatriate community of Americans in Moscow–where the editors have repeatedly endured blackmail, petition drives to boycott the paper's advertisers, and even death threats–such a scenario is not hard to imagine.

In Moscow, by contrast, Ames and Taibbi are free to go on smearing rhetorical mud pies over the Clintonian New World Order. Fleeing the unwritten speech codes of their native America, Ames and Taibbi have found a First Amendment haven in the former capital city of International Communism, of all places.

That didn't last. The Russian government has just shut down the newspaper. More precisely, the authorites "audited" its editorial content, prompting the paper's weak-kneed investors to withdraw their funds. The eXile website is still online, though its future is also uncertain. "Looks like this Fifth Column is winning, and we'll be forced to retreat from Moscow," eXile columnist Gary Brecher writes. "Ya hear that, Moscow, ya ungrateful place? We're shakin' your dust from our 'Nam boots and setting up a new site somewhere not so allergic to truth, boobs and gory jokes. Maybe we can get Eritrea to give us a home."

Update: Good news — the online edition isn't ready to die just yet. It plans to keep publishing from an "undisclosed Putin-proof location."