As my colleague and current couchmate Trevor Timm pointed out, it is ironic that today of all days I have chosen to compile the definitive collection of hilarious Thomas Friedman takedowns. Why today, you ask? Because today Thomas Friedman actually made sense. Mull that one over for a moment. It’s okay, take your time.
As anyone who has seen me speak publicly knows, I delight in nothing more than a good jab at ol’ Friedman. And just because he’s written one intelligent piece doesn’t mean I’m going to stop…so, in traditional JCY style, I have compiled The Definitive Collection of Thomas Friedman Takedowns, an immaculate collection of parodies, jabs, and totally straightfaced teardowns of the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.
As I’m sure more fantastic gems will eventually come our way, I will later issue a boxed set, then perhaps a B-side. But for now, here goes:
Welcome new visitors, it’s been awhile – freshly updated December 2016
- Taibbi’s latest on the “meaningless graph contest”
- Gizmodo takes on the fantastical graphs
- Bonus! Wherein White House officials call Friedman a “committed Zionist”
New! Friedman goes off the rails for good! March 2015:
- Israel and Iran send Friedman off the deep end – Juan Cole
- Digby sees Friedman’s new stance as “objectively pro-ISIS”
New! As of September 2014:
- Hamilton Nolan questions Friedman’s creds.
- Mondoweiss explains why we must Fire Tom Friedman.
- Aijaz Zaka Syed calls out Friedman’s latest “crocodile tears” over Iraq.
- Pareene on Friedman
FRESH! New as of September 2013:
- Belen Fernandez takes on the redundancy of Friedman
- Just discovered (7/13): A piece Barrett Brown wrote in 2010: “Friedman’s Failures Remain Relevant“
- And one by the recently deceased Michael Hastings discussing Friedman on Iraq: “‘Whatever the cost.’I know the cost. It’s never going to be worth it. No need to wait for the historians to figure that one out.”
Now with MORE FRIEDMAN! Newly added as of May 31, 2013:
- Tom Friedman’s Magical Job Application Program
- Eschaton: The one true wanker.
- The results of Matt Taibbi’s Tom Friedman porn title contest
- Tom Friedman, Mansplainer: Jason Links tears apart the Friedman Forum
- Thomas Friedman, Still the Worst
- Mr. Friedman makes the list of “36 mustaches that explain why there’s no peace in the Middle East”
- “Tell Me How This Ends” from the Really? Tom Friedman blog
- Thomas Friedman Writes an Ad for His Daughter’s College Roommate
- Tom Friedman’s War on Humanity – another Belen Fernandez masterpiece
- Dan Drezner writes an open letter to the New York Times concerning Friedman
NEW! As of May 2, 2013
- Tom Friedman, a “mustachioed robot with a limited vocabulary” – Gawker
- Matt Taibbi incites readers to “come up with the ultimate Thomas Friedman porn title“
- “Thomas Friedman’s Gut Feeling Explains the World” – Gawker
- Felix Salmon goes the route of the intellectual takedown.
NEW! As of October 10:
- Ali Hazzah at the Egypt Monocle: Arab in NYC
- Belen Fernandez for Mondoweiss: Friedman’s Mirror
NEW! As of July 25:
Some fresh takedowns. From now on, new pieces will be added by date:
- Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone – No Kidding: The Most Incoherent Friedman Column Ever – Nails it.
- Andrew at Current Events Inquiry – The sociopathy of Thomas L. Friedman: A compendium – a serious historical takedown.
- Karl reMarks (blog) – Syria is Iraq and something about a midwife – a perfect parody, complete with photoshopped Kristof with giant mustache!
- Bélen Fernandez is back with “Tom Friedman as Midwife“
- Glenn Greenwald goes after Friedman in a serious piece, entitled “The value of Tom Friedman” (hint: it isn’t much)
- Justin Elliott catches on to Friedman’s obsession with a “Muslim Mandela”
- An oldie-but-goodie: True/Slant’s Michael Roston on whether Friedman is bankrupting the New York Times.
- New Zealand columnist Toby Manhire demonstrates that Friedman is a wee bit less appreciated Down Under.
- Samir Chopra (blog) – Why Not A Syrian Mandelian Midwife, Mr. Friedman? :
I think the primary occasion for surprise is already upon us: Why does Mr. Friedman not seize the opportunity presented to him by his last sentence and run with it? There is a midwife, a country, Syria, and a name, ‘Mandela.’ Endless recombinatory possibilities present themselves
- And of course, Friedman’s latest, Syria is Iraq, wherein Friedman practically parodies himself.
- Matt Taibbi’s seminal takedown, “Flathead”. It has style, it has pizzazz, it has the sentence “On an ideological level, Friedman’s new book is the worst, most boring kind of middlebrow horseshit.” It is a classic work of art, and Taibbi’s writing, the anti-Friedman. You’re welcome.
- Sarah Carr’s “This is just the start and it never fucking ends.” Perhaps you didn’t expect an Egyptian blogger to come in second place. But lo! Who better to tear apart Friedman’s Egypt inanities than the blogger who writes Inanities, an Egyptian who actually protested in Tahrir Square? Key line: “You might ask why, since I am in Egypt, I don’t ask an Egyptian – possibly two Egyptians – about what inspired them to completely ignore my theories on the Arab peoples and take to the streets. The answer is this: I am Thomas Friedman and I write a column in the New York Times.”
- “Thomas Freetrademan”‘s “The Datsun and the Shoe Tree.” Some people name-drop, Friedman place-drops. This parody captures his essence–“What’s my point? I don’t actually have one–but opening my columns with strings of clichéd cultural juxtapositions really cuts down my workload”–perfectly.
- Andrew Ferguson’s book review of “That Used to be Us.” Opening of second paragraph: “As a writer, Mr. Friedman is best known for his galloping assaults on Strunk and White’s Rule No. 9: “Do Not Affect a Breezy Manner.” ‘Nuff said.
- Daniel Drezner’s “Suffering from Friedman’s Disease in Beijing.” If Foreign Policy were Weekend Update. A classic parody.
- The New York Observer’s “Write your own Thomas Friedman column.” A paint-by-numbers to writing Friedman-style. Includes gems such as “Thomas Friedman is the Carrie Bradshaw of current events. Think Sex and the City , write ‘Sects and Tikriti.'”
- Matt Taibbi’s “Flat N All That.” What could be better than a Taibbi takedown? Two Taibbi takedowns! “I’ve been unhealthily obsessed with Thomas Friedman for more than a decade now,” admits Taibbi. “Good!” reply us.
- Joshua Foust’s “The Toms Talk ISAF Raids” and “The Only Way to Discuss This“ (tie). There’s only one thing better than a Tom Friedman monologue, and that’s a Tom Friedman/Tom Ricks dialogue. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Foust was probably high while writing these, but consider that a good thing. Complete with sleep-mask-wearing-Andrew-Sullivan intervention.
- Justin E.H. Smith’s “Thomas Friedman Clogged My Toilet.” A subtle, creeping parody full of toilet humor and complete with an appearance by a long-dead Mike Royko.
- Michael Sweeney’s “Create Your Own Thomas Friedman Op-Ed Column.” Not only is it delightfully condescending (a Friedman must!) but includes the choose-your-own-adventure style multiple choice technique that Friedman’s columns sometimes seemingly employ.
Not exactly B-sides, the following is a list of the more serious critiques of Friedman. Equally enjoyable to the true connoisseur, but less punchy and certainly not Thomas Friedman takedown party reading material. Wait, you don’t have Thomas Friedman takedown parties? Ah, nevermind.
- Belén Fernández’s “Thomas Friedman’s Confusions.” Frankly, Fernández deserves more than an honorable mention, given that she actually wrote the book on Friedman, but since I haven’t read it yet (c’mon, Nook store!), I’ll just say of her aforementioned piece: Brilliant. (Update! Excerpt of book now available!)
- Greg Marx’s “Tom Friedman’s ‘Radical’ Wrongness.” The inclusion of Marx’s piece is almost meta, as he compiled within this post the first collection of Friedman takedowns. And oh, it’s so sweet.
- Matt Welch’s “The Simpletons.” Scathing, accurate, and references Taibbi. See also: “Capturing Tom Friedman.”
- Steve Benen’s “Has Thomas Friedman met Barack Obama?“ Pointing out Friedman’s lack of originality and occasional outright disingenuousness.
- Daniel Drezner’s “If world politics pundits covered the Women’s World Cup.” The whole thing is a delightful read, but as only one graf is dedicated to Friedmanism, an honorable mention it gets. Bonus points for the loving yet punchy parody of Glenn Greenwald.
- Dan Murphy‘s fact-check of Friedman’s January 2012 Cairo speech. Though Murphy tweeted that the piece was “de-snarked” (presumably by editors), it still makes its point.
- Jennifer Rubin’s “Thomas Friedman, hitting rock bottom.” The best part of Rubin’s recent critique of Friedman in which she implies that Friedman sits upon an anti-Israel perch? She’s totally fucking serious.
- Matt Welch, Friedman bête noire extraordinaire, offers up an artistic reenactment of a Friedman column, complete with robots.
26 replies on “The Definitive Collection of Thomas Friedman Takedowns”
Read every piece and ROFLMAO’ed the entire time. Even reread Matt Taibbi’s two pieces for the umpteenth time, which should be archived and taught in every journalism school to give up-and-coming writers an idea of how you can painstakingly analyze a book while being just as hilarious as George Carvin (RIP).
I forever wondered why The New York Times would let such an imbecile write a column for them, but journalism too has become sort of like reality tv thanks to the internet. And if there ever was a journalist that took his profession to the level Snooki took reality tv, it’d be undoubtedly Thomas L. Friedman.
Thank you so much for all this delicious Friedman put down stuff. I enjoy other writes expressing their utter annoyance with the pompous Mr. Friedman. I will never forget Friedman saying what the Iraqi people need is armed American soldiers entering their houses and saying “suck on this”. Now it is your turn for literary humiliation,Mr Friedman. A great collection here Jillian.
I think I’ve wet my pants….hilarious. To see it in the aggregate is simply too much. Old Gray Lady, have Mercy with us
Great list. Also, though less funny, this is one of the truest critiques of Friedman’s latest windmill tilting, and probably deserves mention, though I wouldn’t argue that its the best by any stretch.
[…] As my colleague and current couchmate Trevor Timm pointed out, it is ironic that today of all days I have chosen to compile the definitive collection of hilarious Thomas Friedman takedowns. The Definitive Collection of Thomas Friedman Takedowns […]
I remember, or possibly made up, someone on NPR saying rather exasperatedly “I am not responsible for the fantasy structures of Thomas Friedman.” I want to believe it was Fareed Zacharia, and I do love it.
A few of the posted authors are pretty dumb hacks of their own right (Rubin, Foust for starters).
This was a fun experiment:
Couldn’t agree more about Rubin. Still funny though.
In the first 10 minutes of this Ha-Joon Chang lecture he has a look at the history of Toyota, to show how ridiculous and ignorant Friedman was to use the Lexus as the symbol of free market globalization. According to Chang it’s a little bit like writing a book on self-made men and starting it “Chapter 1: Henry Ford II”.
Why the World Isn’t Flat:
Other things you might perhaps want to include:
The most recent Taibbi link needs to be updated: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/no-kidding-the-most-incoherent-tom-friedman-column-ever-20120725
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Your link to the “seminal takedown” is broken!
Maybe update it to http://nypress.com/flathead/
This Rees cartoon is pretty good too: http://www.nytexaminer.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/How-Green-Was-My-Mustache.jpg
“have you read Friedman’s new book about people are putting too many toppings on their pizzas?”
[…] I discovered journalist Matt Taibbi’s seminal parody of Friedman, “Flathead.” Inspired, I built an anthology of Friedman takedowns and gave a TEDx talk called “Talking Back to Talking Heads,” in which I demonstrated everything […]
[…] that others have done solid work taking on the Friedman myth. An excellent catalogue is found here: https://jilliancyork.com/2011/12/14/the-definitive-collection-of-thomas-friedman-takedowns/. Matt Taibbi’s “Thomas Friedman Porn-Title Contest” […]
[…] Barkley would say. Nate Silver, quite possibly the most unctuous and arrogant man this side of Tom Friedman, is never wrong. No, friends, he simply didn’t have enough data or the right data or the […]
Not as fun, but extremely rigorous: http://www.uclaforecast.com/reviews/leamer_flatworld_060221.pdf
By the excellent UCLA economist Ed Leamer.
Can you please add a link to this excellent takedown
Does anyone have that poem/summary of that famous article boiled down to just syllogisms & metaphors. #EPIC lol.
Don’t forget this excellently titled addition by Hamilton Nolan from 2012, “Thomas Friedman Writes His Only Column Again”: http://gawker.com/5921030/thomas-friedman-writes-his-only-column-again
Great list! Caustic and witty Friedman takedowns literally are what I read to cheer myself up.
Driftglass has written several. http://driftglass.blogspot.com/search?q=Friedman
So many good photoshops as well of the Moustache.
Please please please keep this list updated! It is priceless!
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