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Finally, an explanation for why the New York Press sucks. In an interview published in The Toilet Paper, freshly resigned/fired Press columnist Matt Taibbi — who looks like the "computer-generated love child of Ashton Kutcher and Peter Beinart," as a mildly deranged reader recently pointed out — points the finger squarely at Press founder and former owner Russ Smith (who, in fairness, has pointed many a finger at Taibbi over the years).

How'd Smith mug the paper? After the jump, kids.

I'll tell you what happened here. You should know that when the former owner, the conservative writer Russ Smith (aka Mugger), sold the paper, he negotiated an arrangement with the new management whereby he kept his column at an exorbitant fee price, and could not be fired. This was a condition of the sale. So Koyen and, later, Alex Zaitchik couldn't fire this guy, even though he a.) sucked, b.) was grossly insubordinate in print, constantly savaging the paper and its contributors, showing an utter lack of collegial loyalty, and c.) took a huge bite out of the contributor budget, even during times when the paper was hopelessly strapped for money.

If you look back, you'll find numerous examples of Smith blasting other Press contributors in his column (including and especially me, repeatedly saying that I was headed for the funny farm, a nut, and an immature lefty extremist); what readers didn't know is that in most of those cases, Smith was collecting his giant fee every week, while the rest of us who were the targets of his literary pseudo-wrath were going unpaid as the paper struggled. In other words, Smith was not only an editorial deadweight on the staff, but he had the nerve to rip the other contributors who were making sacrifices for the paper while he sat, fully paid, in his Manhattan townhouse, watching the Red Sox on NESN.

Hmm. Is this true? Who knows? But we really hope Smith fires back. That'll be fun.

An Exclusive Interview w/Matt Taibbi [The Toilet Paper Blog]