Matt Taibbi, The Great Derangement
A gonzo guide to where and when the public was led astray after 9/11.
Equal parts civics lesson and soapbox for Keith Olbermann groupies, The Great Derangement details what happens when Rolling Stone political correspondent Matt Taibbi dons the gonzo chapeau and investigates where and when the public was led astray after 9/11. The “derangement” — in media, government, religion — is less a problem of red/blue state division than information. In the Infotainment Age, he asks, “Are the right messages reaching our collective brain?” To find out, he hides the cynical reporter’s facade behind an earnest faith-seeker’s smile and joins a San Antonio megachurch — nearly blowing his cover straightaway when he tells meet-and-greeters he’s the son of an abusive, alcoholic circus clown. (The author is actually the son of NBC News reporter Mike Taibbi.) They accept this foil, and within days the atheist is spouting religious rhetoric like a subway-rider dropping Jay-Z rhymes.
From Texas, the narrative bounces between Baghdad, Capitol Hill and Manhattan. Taibbi wonders aloud whether he’s been pegged as a “liberal Ann Coulter” and occasionally his comparisons between evangelicals and the “clinically insane” 9/11 Truth movement aren’t far from the popular conservative cartoon. Taibbi is quick-witted as any cable news talking-head and more engaging than C-SPAN — especially his look at Congress’s penchant for back-room pork barreling. David Slavin’s deadpan delivery coats Derangement with an added layer of WTF, making it a breezy listen in the vein of Pop theorists Chuck Klosterman and Rob Sheffield.