When it comes to talking about now-shuttered newspaper The eXile, “controversial” is the hardest working item of vocabulary one can dig up. It was never my cup tea per se, but I liked that it was around, and I like the conversations it produced, and was pretty outraged when it was unceremoniously raided, pressured, and shut down … you would think that the Kremlin would have recognized how useful the paper was for its attacks against opponents of the state.
At any rate, most people who can find their way to this blog already have their mind made up about it. Vanity Fair recently published a detailed autopsy of the enterprise, containing some really great quotes:
“They took me on for using journalistic clichés, and at the end of the day I was like, ‘You know what? You’re right,'” says Colin McMahon, a former Moscow-bureau chief for the Chicago Tribune, adding, “I read it because it was good for story ideas, frankly. These guys were deeper into a subculture of Moscow than I could ever have allowed myself to be. I’d see something in The Exile and say, ‘How can I get this into a story without mainlining cocaine?'”
Yet The Exile was too vitriolic to romanticize for long or toconsult just its fans. And listening to the critics is too fun. Theycall Ames and Taibbi, singly or in combination, children, louts,misogynists, madmen, pigs, hypocrites, anarchists, fascists, racists,and fiends. According to Carol Williams, of the Los Angeles Times, “It seemed like a bunch of kids who’d somehow gotten funding for their own little newspaper.” A former New York TimesMoscow-bureau chief, Michael Wines, offered a no-comment comment. “Ithink I’ll pass, thank you,” he e-mailed, “except to repeat what I saidat the time, and what Shaw said a lot earlier: Never wrestle with apig. You just get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”