The eXile, the Moscow-based alternative paper founded by Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi — and which has been home these past few years to occasional TAC contributor Gary Brecher, the War Nerd — has been shut down by Russian authorities. The website is still up (note: some racy content, which goes for most of the links that follow, too), though, and is fighting to survive. Ames has been blogging the story of the crackdown for Radar. (More here.) And here’s the War Nerd’s plea for help.
As I said on my own blog, the eXile is as much samizdat for the West as it is for Russia. And funnily enough, a Kremlin lickspittle who recently debated Ames on air had nothing but good things to say about the Iraq War and the Western media’s failure to raise serious questions about the adventure before it began. As Ames blogs for Radar,
When I started to talk about the shameful self-censorship that went on in the American media in the lead-up to the Iraq war, and the disastrous consequences that followed, Schlegel loudly cut me off: “The American media was right to support the invasion of Iraq, because the American people supported that war. Of course the American media should back the president!”
“But the only reason that the American people supported the war was because the media duped them! They didn’t do what they were supposed to do!” I stammered.
“No, Bush was right to invade Iraq!” Schlegel yelled. “I absolutely support his reasons for invading, and I believe the American media did the right thing in supporting the war, because the American people supported this war.”
When I explained to him that such government audits [as shut down the eXile] only take place in Third World dictatorships and not in serious countries, his tone changed. “The Russian media is completely free,” he claimed. “Our television stations express all the opinions of the people”And that’s when the young Russian Duma deputy turned his fangs on me: “I understand what type of person you are now, Mark, after listening to you and hearing about your newspaper, the Exile, on this radio program. It’s very clear to me now that you are an extremist, and your newspaper is extremist. I have never read your newspaper, but I don’t need to now because I already have you figured out. You’re an extremist. It’s all completely clear to me now.”
Ames has published some terrific pieces in the alternative media here in the U.S. — including the classic “Black Metal Nation: What Do Norwegian Dirtheads and Richard Perle Have in Common?” — but the eXile can’t be replaced. No one else could have brought us the War Nerd, for one thing.