Prior to going on the show, Taibbi noted, "I’m looking forward to it as one would a root canal or rectal. I accepted the invitation because it would have been wrong to refuse, on the off chance [Hasan] was planning a good-faith discussion."
Taibbi originally raised the possibility of a public debate with Hasan in late March, after the MSNBC script-reader made a dig at the journalist's expense.
In an article entitled "Eat Me, MSNBC" on his Substack, queued up ahead of the interview, Taibbi added, "If you're reading this, things have gone another way."
Hasan opened the debate with an acrimonious four-minute introduction, in which he admitted to mocking Taibbi "for doing PR work for the world's richest man" and noted that Taibbi had, in turn, accused him of "being an ardent establishment moralist."
In the ensuing tangle, Taibbi and Hasan pored over the facts and implications raised in the Twitter Files.
Hasan, however, made things personal, implying a deficit of both competence and integrity on Taibbi's part; accusing Taibbi of "omitting crucial context"; and ultimately asking whether he had crossed a line in his work exposing collusion between government and big tech with Elon Musk's help.
"The hilarity of this coming from MSNBC, which did nothing but vomit up fake Russia hit stories that came straight from the FBI for six consecutive years, that you guys still haven't apologized for, is unbelievable," said Taibbi.
Hasan displaced blame, noting he had not been around when his network advanced unsubstantiated claims later proven to be falsehoods.
Taibbi emphasized that the Twitter Files "are self-contained stories" that are "going to hold up over the test of time unlike your Russian story," then went on offense, pressing Hasan on his work downplaying the Hunter Biden laptop story.
"I don’t think I’ve ever written about the Hunter Biden story, so maybe you should apologize for putting words in my mouth. You said at the beginning I put words, I never said a word about the Hunter Biden story," responded Hasan.
Aaron Maté of the Gray Zone later noted on Twitter that Hasan had indeed discussed Hunter Biden and downplayed the story, "all intended at minimizing it, and the censorship that came with it."
In "Eat Me, MSNBC," which Taibbi published after all, the independent journalist underscored that the corporate liberal media outfit — of which Hasan is but a part — had played a big role in pushing the Russian collusion narrative.
"The network didn't just re-report this stuff; it became the favored launching pad for all the most blatant blue-Anon disinformation, like California congressman Adam Schiff saying he had 'more than circumstantial' evidence of collusion, or former Obama defense official Evelyn Farkas suggesting the Trump administration would try to destroy evidence if they 'found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff’s dealing with Russians.' Farkas later testified under oath that she 'didn’t know anything' about collusion," wrote Taibbi.
Rather than correct course after sources provided the network with faulty or outright false information, Taibbi said, "MSNBC did the opposite, hiring seemingly everyone who'd helped them down this reputation-tarnishing path."
After dragging MSNBC for getting so much so wrong for so long, Taibbi noted, "After throwing away all their standards, clowning themselves with years of wrong stories, doling out rice bowls to the procession of spooks who now clog their airwaves, and watching as their ratings predictably collapsed, now they want to give mea hard time. Not because I got anything wrong, but because they don’t like my opinions, or where things like the Twitter Files reports came from."
While Hasan got personal in the Thursday night debate, Taibbi indicated ahead of time his "beef with MSNBC is personal."
He noted that people who used to be his friends at the network involved in "one of the biggest train wrecks in the history of our business ... have the stones to point at me with this 'What happened to you?' routine. It’s rare that the following words are justified on every level, but really, MSNBC: F*** you."
Here is the interview in full:
Mehdi debates Matt Taibbi on the 'Twitter Files' and Elon Muskwww.youtube.com
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