The lousy New York Times editorial page

Long time readers of this blog know that I despise the editorial columnists at the New York Times, especially David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, and Thomas Friedman and long ago stopped reading them. Only Paul Krugman has anything useful to say. I thought that my views were not shared by mainstream media people because after all, they are all part of the same system of which these columnists are at the pinnacle.

But when Ken Kurson of the New York Observer spoke to more than two dozen current and former staffers of the paper, he found them dripping with contempt for them too and that they were waging a ‘semi-open revolt’ against Andrew Rosenthal, the tyrannical editorial page editor.

The blame here, in the eyes of most Times reporters to whom The Observer spoke, belongs to Andrew Rosenthal, who as editorial page editor leads both the paper’s opinion pages and opinion postings online, as well as overseeing the editorial board and the letters, columnists and op-ed departments. Mr. Rosenthal is accused of both tyranny and pettiness, by the majority of the Times staffers interviewed for this story.

Also coming in for intense criticism were the opinion-page columnists, always a juicy target. Particularly strong criticism, to the point of resentful (some might say jealous), was directed at Thomas Friedman, the three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize who writes mostly about foreign affairs and the environment.

One current Times staffer told The Observer, “Tom Friedman is an embarrassment. I mean there are multiple blogs and Tumblrs and Twitter feeds that exist solely to make fun of his sort of blowhardy bullshit.”

“As for the columnists, Friedman is the worst. He hasn’t had an original thought in 20 years; he’s an embarrassment. He’s perceived as an idiot who has been wrong about every major issue for 20 years, from favoring the invasion of Iraq to the notion that green energy is the most important topic in the world even as the financial markets were imploding. Then there’s Maureen Dowd, who has been writing the same column since George H. W. Bush was president.”

It’s nice to know that this view is more common than I thought. I expect Matt Taibbi, whose scathing articles on Friedman are also the funniest, to have a field day with this story.


  1. colnago80 says

    Ah, it’s nice to know that Prof. Singham’s low opinion of Tom Friedman is also held by various talkbackers at the Jerusalem Post.

    Here’s a few samples:

    Yenta Press
    • 13 hours ago

    Can anyone share a single Friedman prediction
    regarding the middle east which was correct
    (last 5 years, no need to look earlier)?

    With this track record, what is so “influential”
    about him?

    Amazingly enough, even the Palestinians are smarter then him.

    Eduardo Kelerstein
    • 13 hours ago

    “the leaders of this uprising are not even Palestinians,…. this intifada is led “by the European Union and other…”
    Is the self-hating pseudo Jew revealing EU is the leader of terrorism against the Jews?
    Nothing new, this has been going on for 2000 years. We will always survive.
    Am Israel Chai.

    • 13 hours ago

    This is just part of the Democratic Party initiative to isolate Israel. Friedman is nothing but a talking head for the American socialists who have taken over the party. He is working with Kerry to force “peace” on Israel. For our own good, of course!

    ALPEX doridav1
    • 7 hours ago

    He is damn influential because he caters to a large body of anti-Semites, which self-hating Jews like him are a part thereof.

  2. colnago80 says

    The Washington Post Editorial page is much worse. We have such poopyheads as George Will, Richard Cohen, Charles Krauthammer, Mark Theissen, etc.

  3. Al Dente says

    With the exception of Krugman (who can slip from time to time but is usually readable) I haven’t paid any attention to the NYT editorial columnists for years. Thomas Friedman is a neocon masquerading as a liberal (he goes on Fox News frequently and is especially chummy with Bill O’Reilly). Maureen Dowd has a nasty habit of misquoting people and even making up quotes (Dowd changed John Kerry’s remark about NASCAR to mean the exact opposite of what Kerry actually said). Robert Reich wrote an article explaining how wrong David Brooks is on income inequality.

    The problem is that Andrew Rosenthal loves these people and as long as he’s the editorial page editor they’ll continue to have jobs at the New York Times.

  4. wtfwhateverd00d says

    I think you should mention Kristof in that list, …

    Regardless, while I certainly understand the complaints about Friedman and his taxi driver observations, it seems difficult to criticize “three-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize Thomas Friedman” as no better than a tumblr blogger without questioning what that says about the Pulitzer Prize.

    So when I read that sort of criticism that badmouths a three time Pulitzer Prize winner without any explanation of how Friedman’s three Pulitzer Prizes differ from others, it mainly makes me think there’s a lot of butthurt flying around.

    FWIW, I feel similarly about folks who criticize Krugman as shrill (remember that) and/or partisan and unworthy of his Nobel Prize.

  5. colnago80 says

    Re sthwhateverd00d @ #4

    At one time, Friedman wasn’t so bad. I thought he had a few good ones in his book, From Beirut to Jerusalem, namely Hama Rules and Menachem Begin was Bernard Goetz with an F15. However, lately he’s been resting on his laurels and has become a 1 trick pony. Among other things, a period of 6 months is called a Friedman because he continually said during the invasion of Iraq that we should wait 6 months to evaluate how things were going. As can be inferred from the talkbackers on the Jpost web site, he’s about as popular as AIDS in Israel (the talkbackers on other web sites, Ynet, Haaretz, and the Times of Israel are just as negative).

    By the way, in my list of Washington Post columnists who should be given the heave ho, I left out Robert Samuelson. A period of 35 years is called a Samuelson because he used to proclaim that the Social Security would go broke in 35 years.

  6. colnago80 says

    By the way, in the list of useless New York Times columnists, Singham left out Ross “douchbag” Douthat, a shill for the Raping Children Church.

  7. bmiller says

    While I agree with you Colnago on your main comment, the quotes from Jerusalem are…horrible…in their own way. It seems like their main complaints about friedman is he is not enough of a raving lunatic.

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