Thomas Friedman, bloviating world affairs columnist for the New York Times, is a jerk and a buffoon. He’s an advocate of imperialism and a cheerleader for murder. He has contempt for oppressed Arabs and deserves our contempt. He argues for military interventions but (thankfully, for those who oppose it) can hardly make a coherent argument.
Sadly, he’s also influential. And he is exactly the sort of person I would expect to rise up the ranks in mainstream news media.
This week, Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi mercilessly ridiculed Blowhard Tom for “the single most incoherent thing he has ever written” – which is saying quite a lot, because Friedman has written a lot of incoherent stuff. Glenn Greenwald, for his part, remarked that the column “absolutely makes no sense.”
In a nutshell, Friedman’s July 26 column said Syria needs the same sort of helpful intervention that the U.S. gave to Iraq. Syria needs a “well-armed external midwife, whom everyone on the ground both fears and trusts to manage the transition” from dictatorship to democracy, he contends. For Iraq, of course, that armed and universally trusted midwife was the U.S.
Honestly, Friedman really seems to believe that.
The problem isn’t just that he’s delusional and thinks midwives should be packing heat. (Must be quite a scene when a Friedman baby’s being born, huh?) No, the bigger problem is what the column says about his attidude toward all those Middle East countries that don’t celebrate Rosh Hashanah.
Arrogant Zionist that he is, Friedman’s the kind of guy who thinks the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq was justified because America needed to send a strong message to “terrorist” Muslims through use of a “a very big stick.” He basically told Charlie Rose that an illegal invasion and the mass killing of Iraqis was the best way to say that it’s not OK for Palestinians to fight occupation.
You might say that the midwife analogy in this recent column underscores his low opinion of Arabs. To Friedman, the Arab world needs someone to pull it out of its wretched condition so it can be raised into democracy. And that someone is, of course, the United States – a country that has always selflessly given so much to make the world a better place for everyone, right?
For as long as I’ve been interested in journalism, I’ve heard discussions about whether mainstream news media have a liberal or conservative bias. Well, the bottom line is that newspapers and TV stations are like every other type of business in one important respect: The employees who move farthest up the hierarchy are ones who agree with the owners. The ones who say what the boss wants to hear are rewarded with promotions.
Friedman, I say, got where he is today largely because he says things that please the powers that be at the New York Times, and he’s on TV all the time because his views are pleasing to those in charge.
It sure as hell can’t be quality of analysis.