Sitting next to Michael at dinner tonight we talked about Thomas Friedman, the celebrated NYT columnist. I argued that one of the reasons for F’s publishing successes (both The Lexus and the Olive Tree and The World is Flat have been best-sellers) is that they contain just the right number of half-truths. (This is also the secret to successful business books btw.)
Then I came home and found this on Dave Winer’s Blog. It skewers Friedman very economically.
“I did a good job of stifling while listening to NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman”, Dave writes, “although at times I did gasp out loud at his arrogance and disregard for us, the audience…Friedman told an old story about how the Internet out of control would turn everyone into a public figure, like Friedman, who suffers from slander and exposure”.
Friedman told the story of an Indonesian woman who thought Al Gore is Jewish, something she heard on the Internet, which Friedman says is untrustworthy. But we remember when Friedman warned of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, who explained to us in his audience why we had to go to war. If I had time to ask a question, I might have asked him what regrets he has about the mistakes he’s made, the lies he told that caused more death than the lies the Indonesian woman who thought Gore is a Jew. The mistake we make is when we blindly trust any source, including the NY Times.