Censorship

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."

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  1. Gary Brecher may not be a real person, but he writes one of my favorite columns. Hopefully they’ll find someplace else to publish from.

  2. I don’t see how this wave of authoritarian repression can last given the realities of local geography. What’s to stop any of the little Baltic republics that are aligning with the West from hosting these? Information wants to be free.

  3. “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.”

    If by “unlawful slander” they mean libel, well, yes, a newspaper that routinely printed false statements about people might expect to be sued, successfully. As for the “enraged feminists, yada, yada, yada, I don’t think feminists are terribly fond of Hustler, Barely Legal, et al., yet those publications manage to thrive and flourish. As for “smearing rhetorical mud pies over the Clintonian New World Order,” wasn’t that what the American Spectator et al. (gee, that’s a handy phrase) were all about back in the day?

  4. 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.

    Who the hell are they kidding? Stuff as bad and worse (from the perspective of “enraged feminists, anti-obscenity activists, and sexual harassment lawyers” gets posted on US-hosted websites every day, and they aren’t getting shut down by anyone.

    They really, really need to get over themselves.

  5. I hope War Nerd finds a place to land. Some hobbiest on the internets writes more intelligently than all the neocon experts who have been wrong about everything all the time and won’t go away. Of course, as these things always seem to go, they’re on the NYT and Wash Post while he’s on some dodgy .ru site.

  6. I’m frankly surprised it took this long.

  7. They really, really need to get over themselves.

    Of course they’re full of themselves. They’re journalists, after all. The difference is that the hype is real. The eXile belongs with early Vice and Spy magazines in the pantheon of ballsy, funny, informative writers.

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