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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thomas Friedman, "Help Wanted": A Lack of Leadership at The New York Times

Today, Thomas Friedman is back with a New York Times op-ed entitled "Help Wanted" (, in which he writes his usual tired spiel about the empowerment of individuals by globalization and the Information Technology revolution. Friedman pompously advises Vladimir Putin that this shift of power to the people demands that leaders "get the best of what is coming up from below and then meld it with a vision from above." He then concludes this flatulent opus by recommending that Egypt find this new kind of leader:

"One can see this vividly in Egypt, where the bottom-up democracy movement was strong enough to oust Mubarak but now faces the long, arduous process of building new institutions and writing a new social contract from a democracy coalition that encompass [sic] Muslim Brothers, Christian liberals, Muslim liberals, the army and ultraconservative Muslim Salafis.

Getting all those fish back and swimming together in one aquarium will be no small task — one that will take a very courageous and special leader. Help wanted."

Excuse me, but what a load of horse apples! With the departure of strongman Mubarak, who kept something of a lid on violence between Muslims and Christian Copts, and with the Egyptian economy sinking into the muddy depths of the Nile (, there is no chance whatsoever that a Western-style democracy will evolve in Egypt. My sources tell me that wealthy Egyptians are busy moving funds out of the country and investing in London real estate.

What else do Russia and Egypt have in common? In prior opinion pieces, Friedman blamed -- you guessed it -- tiny Israel for not siding with protestors in both these countries. In "Postcard From Cairo, Part 2" (, Friedman devoted an entire op-ed to castigating Israel for not siding with Egypt's "democracy youth" in Tahrir Square. In "Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir" ( earlier this week, Friedman complained that Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, had met with Putin and declared that the recent elections had been fair. Friedman always discovers a way to find Israel, but not Luxembourg or Liechtenstein, at fault.

Friedman, of course, touched off a firestorm in "Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir" by scandalously alleging:

"I sure hope that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, understands that the standing ovation he got in Congress this year was not for his politics. That ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel lobby."

Needless to say, Friedman doesn't have the courage to address the outrage caused by this slimy remark, which sounds like something taken from that hoary anti-Semitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." But I suppose we shouldn't be expecting an apology from this windbag.

I shot off a complaint by e-mail to Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times, with a copy to the their public editor, in which I complained of Friedman's filthy remark, but good ol' Andy has yet to respond, nor do I think he will.

Both Friedman and Rosenthal have their heads buried in the sand, and I wonder if the management of The Times will ever listen to the protests "coming up from below."


  1. I regret ... I had an opportunity and I ... missed it. I once bumped into Friedman in the street and failed to punch the bastard.
    Frankly, it's amazing that he's been producing his garbage for decades without any responsibility. What passes for journalism in America ...

  2. Anonymous,

    I share your fury with Friedman, but we must all refrain from even thinking about acting violently. The better course of action is to inform New York Times advertisers that given their willingness to subsidize the anti-Semitism that permeates this newspaper's pages, you will no longer purchase their goods or services.