Not all that accurate

Thomas Friedman is foreign affairs columnist for the New York Times. He supported the Iraq war and still believes that victory is possible – in around six months. The problem is he’s been arguing the same point for nearly two years. Here’s Friedman in November 2003:

The next six months in Iraq—which will determine the prospects for democracy-building there—are the most important six months in U.S. foreign policy in a long, long time.

And here’s Friedman this month:

Well, I think that we’re going to find out, Chris, in the next year to six months—probably sooner—whether a decent outcome is possible there, and I think we’re going to have to just let this play out.

Friedman loves being close to state and corporate power. After the recent death of New York Times honcho A.M. Rosenthal, Friedman wrote the following:

Many readers became aware of Abe only after he became a columnist. He was very conservative and supportive of right-wing parties in Israel. But let me tell you this: When he was editor, I reported for him from Israel and the Arab world for many years. I am sure I wrote things that gave him heartburn. But in all those years he never once complained about anything I wrote. I never knew his politics until he became a columnist. As editor, he was obsessed with keeping The Times ‘straight,’ as he used to say, with no reporters’ or editors’ thumbs ever on the scale.

Unfortunately, Friedman had conveniently forgotten Rosenthal’s servitude to the Reagan administration in the 1980s, as explained in the Guardian obituary by Christopher Reed:

In 1981-82 few American reporters realised the extent of secret but crucial US involvement in the war in El Salvador, something the authorities routinely denied. One who knew was NYT correspondent Raymond Bonner, who in early 1982, exposed the rightist Salvadorean government’s massacre of nearly 1,000 men, women and children in the small town of El Mozote. The US insisted it had not happened and pressure mounted on the NYT.

As executive editor, Rosenthal flew to El Salvador to assess the complaints against Bonner. Sympathetic to president Ronald Reagan’s rhetoric about the communist threat, Rosenthal began limiting Bonner’s coverage and in early 1983 recalled him to the New York business desk. He soon resigned. Today the atrocity at El Mozote is an accepted historical truth, but Bonner’s name has faded.

Latin America is invisible to the vast majority of the Western press, and when it is discussed, it’s only to determine its usefulness to “us.”

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