M.I.A. puts reporter's phone number on Twitter

M.I.A., renowned for a little feistiness, decides she doesn't like the cut of a journalist's jib--or perhaps it was the New York Times article.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

M.I.A., the Carrie Bradshaw of the Planet Subversive, seems to be a little upset.

The rapper acceded to an interview with The New York Times and was not best pleased with the results. So she tweeted: "CALL ME IF YOU WANNA TALK TO ME ABOUT THE N Y T TRUTH ISSUE, ill b taking calls all day bitches ;)"

Personally, I was not aware that The New York Times was printing a special edition that included only the truth. However, I admit I have omitted the first part of her tweet. You see, M.I.A. decided to adorn this tweet with the phone number of Lynn Hirschberg, the journalist.

I know you will be able to judge for yourselves whether Hirschberg's profile had feather-ruffling qualities. She certainly seemed to suggest that there were some uncomfortable contradictions in M.I.A.'s life. She contrasted, for example, the rapper's insistence that she would give birth in a pool of water at home "in order to embrace the pain" to the ultimate result: a birth in the relatively pain-free LA cocoon of Cedars-Sinai hospital.

And then there was the English-born, Sri Lankan-hearted's revolutionary, "Power to the Tamil people" posture. M.I.A is engaged to Ben Bronfman, who might just stand to inherit quite a lot from the Bronfman family that founded Seagrams' long line of alcoholic beverages.

Oh, and I almost forgot the part about the rapper allegedly saying her dad has been a freedom fighter to now claiming that he has spent the last 20 years working for the Sri Lankan government.

I would be the last to judge the merits of these arguments, nor, indeed, choose which, if any, is the good side in Sri Lanka's nasty ongoing struggle. But it does seem something of a curious gesture to post Hirschberg's phone number. It's not as if many of the calls the journalist received since the tweet have been to speak to her.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Hirschberg told the New York Observer that she found the posting of her number unsurprising and "fairly unethical" and "infuriating."

In the long-time revolutionary war between journalists and stars, ethics have often taken a back seat to fury. So it is unsurprising that most of M.I.A.'s 110,000 followers have called the number not to berate Hirschberg (perhaps not many are Times readers), but rather to talk to M.I.A.

"If she wants to get together with John at Bard next week, I have his number," Hirschberg told the Observer. And it does surely make one wonder what sort of fan would imagine that a star as exalted as M.I.A. would tweet her own phone number because she was desperate to chat.

It should be said that the rapper has something of a history of hysterical tweeting. In the past, she has inveighed by tweet on the war in Sri Lanka. She even once tweeted, gosh, "F*** NEW YORK TIMES! DO YOU THINK YOU NEED TO GO HERE ON VACATION?" This was in a reaction to a piece about the Sri Lankan war and came along with a photo of a pile of mangled bodies.

But many of her recent tweets seem to resemble song lyrics that have escaped the wilds of her brain and found a nest on Twitter. Sample: "I licked the envelope Wrote a Letter to the pope He never gave me Rope In the times I couldn't cope."

I should say that M.I.A. has not got quite all the tweeting off her chest. She followed up the phone number tweet with one that seems to be fueled from quite another gas station: "NEWS IS AN OPINION! UNEDITED VERSION OF THE INTERVIEW WILL BE ON neetrecordings THIS MEMORIAL WEEKEND!!! >>>>." Which might be fun, though Hirschberg told the Observer that she has no idea what M.I.A. might be tweeting on about.

Hirschberg says she will not change her number, which might make for a very interesting next few days for her. And one can only hope that M.I.A. will take this opportunity to write a whole song, in tweets, about this painful experience. She might call it "My Truth vs. Ny Truth." Or something equally pithy.