#trashthestache: an unabashedly—but deservedly—fawning review of The Imperial Messenger

by Steve Marlowe

This is an excerpt from a review, published at Chapati Mystery, of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work. Click here to read the review at CM.

More sophisticated readers of the New York Times’ editorial pages have, for years, fumed at Thomas Friedman’s inane musings. Even less sophisticated readers, some of which write book reviews and essays for online magazines named after mysterious flatbreads, have bristled at Friedman’s claims, prose and weak reasoning.

There are times, in fact, that one might suspect the Times’ Editorial Board is putting Friedman over on the public as some sort of Onion-style goof, a la Jackie Harvey.

Some readers have an automatic, visceral dislike of his face, alone: the suburban-mall Glamour-Shots photograph accompanying his crimes against logic calls for snarky comment; in it, he appears smug, self-satisfied and eager to be taken as the thinker of deep thoughts that, in The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, Belen Fernandez proves he is not.

One sure marker of a great work comes when, having experienced it, one is left with a sense of shame—that somehow, the thesis presented is so clear and well-argued that it was obvious all along, and to have not recognized it without the interlocutor’s help is somehow a grievous, personal shortcoming.

Fernandez’s spit-roasting of Friedman’s career is one of those works, and it is proof that America’s reading public should have itself a come-to-Jesus meeting about whom it reads, and on what subjects.

The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work is a grueling, painful read, but it’s a necessary contribution to the greater, shamefully-necessary project of new/alternative media self-justification, vis a vis old media’s privileged place in public discourse; Friedman’s unearned, destructive bully-pulpit, and the appalling influence it holds over, with, and because of Occidental elites, created the need for Fernandez, and critical voices like Chapati Mystery, in the first place.

The rejoinders are getting louder, too—voices such as Glenn Greenwald’s, which puncture the balloons of Imperial hubris, easily, by dispensing with double-standards and applying simple facts to analysis, seem to enjoy greater echo than they might have, even five years ago.

“It’s evidence of a flattening world!” Fernandez joked in a March interview with Chapati Mystery. “These new media provide venues in which Friedman’s bullshit can be immediately exposed as such. Great will be the day in which the NYTimes eXaminer supersedes the Times in readership.”

Like a good doctor, Fernandez comforts us, salving our wounds with clear, caustic prose, doing her damnedest to bring us through a necessary but excruciating treatment. She diagnoses the ailment, explains its causes and effects, and implicitly offers the cure, which is, of course, to strip this yokel of any shred of credibility he might hold in the world of respectable ideas and send him where he belongs, to the backwaters of op-ed commentary, with Cal Thomas and David Broder, where he can warm the top margins of Doonesbury.

Click here to continue reading at Chapati Mystery.

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