Is Thomas Friedman Running Out Of Material?


Depending on who you ask, Thomas Friedman is either a brilliant mind or a complete hack.

There's evidence for both sides. Friedman is a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and he's considered a reputable (and incredibly rich) journalist with numerous accomplishments to his name, including being named to the Order of the British Empire by the Queen and having the ear of many past presidents. That's presumably why the New York Times allots him sacred column space every Sunday.

But there's also a large and growing group that seems committed to calling out what they see as Friedman's quackery. While some resort to humorous takes on Friedman's mustache, many have taken to dissecting his Times column and questioning its legitimacy. For one thing, much of Freidman's past advice in the column has been highly problematic. He seems to be an advocate of violence for the resolution of almost any problem, from being one of the most aggressive advocates of Bush's Iraq War to calling for nothing less than "regime change" as a solution to the problems of Iran. 

Another problem is that Friedman often doesn't use many sources in his writing, relying on anecdotal evidence from his conversations with cab drivers or Marriott reservationists. Nor does he write about a particularly diverse range of subjects, as this list of his topics dating back to 2004 shows, making him occasionally sound like a broken record. And it doesn't help that his writing style has been described as "an occasionally flat Midwestern demotic punctuated by gee-whiz exclamations."

But it seems that Friedman is hitting new lows.

His past two Times columns have focused on the economy and featured the advice of one Eleonora Sharef. If that name doesn't sound familiar to you, it is probably because it is the name of a 27-year-old college graduate who is launching a start-up called HireArt. Nothing wrong with that — millennials creating companies could be a glorious article in its own right — but it certainly isn't the name of someone that you would go to for profound business advice, much less for advice that would fill up the entirety of not one, but two New York Times Sunday columns. And did I mention that the millennial in question is his daughter's college roommate? It's a fact Friedman himself forgot to mention in one of his columns.

With the advent of Friedman-bashing becoming more popular, it would be wise for Friedman to actually use his editorial space to write more compelling editorials. And for the rest of us millennials, the moral of the story is that if you want fantastic free advertising for your new start-up, try becoming friends with Friedman's daughter.