Monday, February 12, 2007

The truth about Thomas Friedman

This is for a friend, but I also want it to be up here...

Having won four Pulitzer Prizes, Thomas Friedman is considered by many in the mainstream media to be the most respected journalist in America. This is actually but another example of what's wrong with the mainstream media.

I will keep this relatively brief, but it must first be noted that Friedman is a champion of free trade- and never mind the environmental, human rights, and labor consequences.

Trinity College professor Vijay Prashad sums it up, in an article that is much more scathing than this little quote:
Even as tales of corporate corruption transform the business pages into tabloid sheets, the mouthpieces of imperialist globalization like Friedman turn on their America First boosterism to high volume.
But it's even worse. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz explained to the Washingtonian:
“Participation in the new world requires resources, computers, education, and access to those is very unequally distributed,” says Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, author of the 2002 bestseller Globalization and Its Discontents. “He has this high level of optimism that means that anyone can do it if they just have wills. . . . He hasn’t emphasized as much that in effect some of the forces of inequality make the world less flat. Globalization inherently increases the inequalities in developing countries.”
Meanwhile, Friedman himself is on top of the world. The Washingtonian, again:
In 2003, the Friedmans built a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7 ½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club.
And, as Norman Soloman pointed out, in the Huffington Post:
Throughout his journalistic career, Friedman has been married to Ann Bucksbaum -- heiress to a real-estate and shopping-mall fortune now estimated at $2.7 billion. When the couple wed back in 1978, according to The Washingtonian article, Friedman became part of "one of the 100 richest families in the country."
But certainly, having such great wealth wouldn't affect Freidman's intellectual integrity. Would it?

Supposedly rigorous about facts and ideas, Friedman has prostituted his intellect. During a CNBC interview with Tim Russert in late July, the acclaimed savant made a notable confession: "We got this free market, and I admit, I was speaking out in Minnesota -- my hometown, in fact -- and guy stood up in the audience, said, 'Mr. Friedman, is there any free trade agreement you'd oppose?' I said, 'No, absolutely not.' I said, 'You know what, sir? I wrote a column supporting the CAFTA, the Caribbean Free Trade initiative. I didn't even know what was in it. I just knew two words: free trade.'"...

Tim Russert didn't bother to pursue the fact that one of the nation's leading journalists had just said that he fervently advocated for a major trade agreement without knowing what was in it. "
But it's still worse! Not only was Friedman a passionate advocate of the Iraq War (Glenn Greenwald provides an impressive list of quotes), but he has always been a passionate advocate of war! It's an over-used phrase, but Friedman actually is a warmonger!

Soloman again, this time writing for Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), reports that Friedman actually used the words "Give war a chance" to describe his advocacy of not only the Iraq War, but those in Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, as well! He loves the phrase! He would not repeatedly use such a cynical twist on John Lennon's famous pacifist mantra unless he thought it was somehow clever! Safe in his suburban American palace, he obviously thinks warmongering is cute! Soloman then adds two quotes that accurately summarize Friedman's cool, passionate, rational approach to foreign policy:
I was a critic of [Defense Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld before, but there's one thing ... that I do like about Rumsfeld. He's just a little bit crazy, OK? He's just a little bit crazy, and in this kind of war, they always count on being able to out-crazy us, and I'm glad we got some guy on our bench that our quarterback — who's just a little bit crazy, not totally, but you never know what that guy's going to do, and I say that's my guy.

And Friedman doesn't just talk that way. He also writes that way. "There is a lot about the Bush team's foreign policy I don't like," a Friedman column declared in mid-February, "but their willingness to restore our deterrence, and to be as crazy as some of our enemies, is one thing they have right."
How's that craziness working, Tom?

And Friedman's also just plain dishonest. FAIR compiled a list titled Tom Friedman's Flexible Deadlines. Since November, 2003, Friedman has been telling the world that we need just six more months to determine whether or not the Iraq War will be a success. Time passes, but that deadline never shrinks (although he does sometimes provide himself wiggle room by saying it's a six-to-nine month window). Friedman repeated the six month claim in June 2004, October 2004, September 2005, December 2005, January 2006, March 2006. and May 2006.

Blogger Duncan Black has coined the phrase "Friedman Unit" to connote a period of six months. I'll use an example: If Bush isn't impeached or forced to resign, I think we will be in Iraq for at least four more Friedman Units. And I'm sure Tom Friedman will still be rationalizing the fact that he was just plain murderously wrong!

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