Loose Ends (21)

Some time during the course of my endless panels last week in Boulder, there somehow occurred the unusual confluence of the coming of robotics and the desire that we have more newspaper columnists like Tom Friedman. You can imagine how that set me twitching. Fortunately the instant retort came to mind: “Self-driving cars will put Tom Friedman out of business, because he won’t have any taxi drivers to talk to any more to get his story ideas and filler material.”

Little did I know that reporters at The Observer have quietly canvassed New York Times beat reporters about their views of the Times’ editorial page, and they find the page mediocre, and Friedman to be “an embarrassment.”

The Observer quoted a former Times writer:

“I think the editorials are viewed by most reporters as largely irrelevant, and there’s not a lot of respect for the editorial page. The editorials are dull, and that’s a cardinal sin. They aren’t getting any less dull. 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.”

“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 bull****.”

“I just think it’s bad, and nobody is acknowledging that they suck, but everybody in the newsroom knows it, and we really are embarrassed by what goes on with Friedman. I mean anybody who knows anything about most of what he’s writing about understands that he’s, like, literally mailing it in from wherever he is on the globe. He’s a travel reporter. A joke. The guy gets $75,000 for speeches and probably charges the paper for his first-class airfare.”

We could have told them all of this. Of course, we already have.

Speaking of blowhardy fools, last week the Puffington Host ran an article with the totally plausible headline, “Could It Be Time to Deny White Men the Franchise?” Totally plausible, that is, if you’re a “white privilege”-obsessed leftist. Anyone else would immediately grasp the Orwellian “some-animals-are-more-equal-than-others” logic typical of power-seekers everywhere. As Heat Street reports:

In the controversial piece, a South African woman named Shelley Garland, a self-described “activist and feminist working on ways to smash the patriarchy” had suggested it was “time to wrestle control of the world back from white males, and the first step will be a temporary restriction of the franchise to them.”

After defending the piece from critics for several days, the Puffington Host has removed the piece because. . . it was a hoax. Now the PuffHo says:

Huffington Post SA has removed the blog “Could It Be Time To Deny White Men The Franchise?” published on our Voices section on April 13, 2017.

We have done this because the blog submission from an individual who called herself Shelley Garland, who claimed to be an MA student at UCT, cannot be traced and appears not to exist.

We have immediately bolstered and strengthened our blogging procedures that, until now, have operated on the basis of open communication and good faith. From now on, bloggers will have to verify themselves.

In other words, PuffHo has taken down the piece only because they have discovered they were punked, not because the piece was bloody idiotic to begin with. They seem still ambiguous about its content. If it had been a real person, they’d have stuck with this risible argument.

Alan Sokal, call your office.