LOS ANGELES, Nov 2 — A Rolling Stone writer who has come under fire for a 17-year-old book that critics say depicts his own mistreatment of women at a newspaper office made a second apology yesterday, saying he wrote “hurtful” things but did not sexually harass anyone.
Matt Taibbi posted the lengthy repentance on his Facebook page hours after an event intended to promote his latest book was scrapped in Washington, DC without explanation.
The furore over Taibbi’s early work comes as a string of accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein have galvanised outrage over abuse of women that has been covered up or ignored. Weinstein has denied engaging in non-consensual sex with anyone.
“I’ve done a lot of wrong things in my life. As a young man, I wrote and said some very dumb and hurtful things.” Taibbi, 47, said in the Facebook post. “I’m sorry for all of this.”
“But it was never more than that. I know the list of revealed harassers is growing, but I am not on that list, nor should I be. I belong to a much bigger group. I was young once, and a jerk. And I am sorry for that,” he said.
The journalist has faced outrage in recent days over the 2000 book The Exile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia, which chronicles his time as the editor of an English-language newspaper in Russia.
Critics say the book, co-written by Taibbi and another editor at the now-defunct paper, Mark Ames, contains passages seemingly detailing mistreatment, sexual harassment and even assaults on their female staff and other young women.
Taibbi and Ames insist that the book is fiction, intended as a satire of American expatriates in Russia.
That explanation has done little to mollify critics in the media and on Twitter who point out that Exile contains a note making clear that it is nonfiction.
Taibbi in his latest Facebook message said the book’s publisher, Grove Press, had put out a statement calling the note incorrect because it contains “exaggerated, invented satire and nonfiction reporting.”
“I continue to deny absolutely that I have ever sexually harassed anyone in any office, here or in Russia,” Taibbi said.
“No woman anywhere has ever accused me of anything of the sort, and I am confident that my former co-workers will report (many already have) that I have never exhibited anything like that kind of behaviour, at work or elsewhere.” — Reuters