Thursday, July 26, 2012

Meanwhile, the NYT's Other Main Exhaust Port

For outgassing incoherent idiocy has been ably autopsied by the inimitable Matt Taibbi:

No Kidding: The Most Incoherent Tom Friedman Column Ever

I realize this is not a statement anyone can make lightly, but: this morning’s column by Thomas Friedman, "Syria is Iraq," is the single most incoherent thing he has ever written. It’s… well, breathtaking is the only word.

Others, like Glenn Greenwald, have already pointed out the column's most obvious contradictions. But for those who missed it, here are two passages that were written, not as a joke, by the same human being in the same opinion column.

After reading the rest here, I would only add this..

When pawing through Mr. Friedman's latest steaming heap of glue-huffing ramble, it is sometimes easy to forget that :writing" is what he gets paid to do.  To this  owering mediocrity great boons are granted, princely sums are bestowed, unimaginably privileged access to the world's elite is give and all of it is based on their ability to line 800 words up in a row and then subdivide those words with punctuation a couple of times a week.

That's it.   That is literally all he does.

If he were a policy wonk or historians or economists or pipe-fitter or thoracic surgeon or paper-maker or cartographer or COBOL programmer or blacksmith or vintage steamer truck restorer who also happened to be an incredibly bad writer, well, that would be another thing entirely.  Depressing, perhaps. A statement about the generally sad state of literacy in America, perhaps.  But not surprising,

Hell, since I was but a wee driftglass, on almost any gig I have ever had, one of the little side-jobs I invariably ended up with has been fixing up other people's writing.  Because -- from chairman or vice-president or commissioner to research assistant -- one thing that has been a constant (and has been getting consistently worse) at all levels of almost every organization I have ever worked for is the poor quality of the writing.  

My own blog frequently suffers from verbal nail pops and jigsaw cuts that are executed at less than a perfect 45-degree angle.  I figured out long ago that my writer's brain (get it out fast!) and my editor's brain (clean it up thoroughly) simply operate on different circuits and cannot work together harmoniously when I am banging stuff out of horseback.  I take full responsibility for every jot and tittle of my own errata which, you have my word, would not be there if I allowed myself the luxury of letting my words cool for 3-4 days.

Or if I had, say, the bottomless research and editorial resources of the New York Times at my command.

When you are in the business of putting words in a row, in the end it will always be the quality of those words that counts. The craft with which you lined them up.  It does not matter if this year you are revered by fools or next year you are praised by sycophants; eventually all of that sound and fury dies away and your words are left orphaned to stand or fall on their own.  And since Mr. Friedman's words so obviously and consistently stink on ice, I can only imagine that the real story behind why America's Newspaper of Record continues to allow such a buffoon to shit all over whatever is left of its international reputation must be one helluva rousing tale.

UPDATE:  It turns out that (Tom Friedman) + (Reporter who asks him real questions) = Awesome.  

Welcome Kos readers!


HitandMiss said...

Did you hear the Tom F interview with a New Zealand interviewer Kim Hill;

It was a beautiful little dance spun by Kim, which culminates in the last 5 mins Tom falls completely head over heels when the question arises about his personal wealth.

John said...

Greenwald's byline: "His status among American elites is the single most potent fact for understanding the nation's imperial decline"

John Puma

Lit3Bolt said...

The 7th Earl of Grantham's opinions matter because he married a wealthy heiress.

The 7th Lord of Anheuser-Busch-On-New-York-Cityshire's opinions matter because he married a wealthy heiress.


blackdaug said...

In the voice of Terry Jones."... and therefore, when your wife needs help giving birth, she should hire a midwife who stands outside the door and carries an automatic weapon."
...(rable) She's a witch...burn her!
Friedman is Sir Bedevere....

steeve said...

"If he were a policy wonk or historians or economists or pipe-fitter... who also happened to be and incredibly bad writer"

In my experience, the switch between writing brain and editing brain can happen in 10 seconds. It definitely can't be done simultaneously, but it shouldn't need a 3-day cool off period either. How can a good writer read the above and not instantly see the extra esses and d?

"Type, read, post" is not a much slower cycle than "type, post". And in my experience it makes a world of difference.

cactusflinthead said...

Glad to have had you linked to the Great Orange Satan. I find so many good reads there. Keep it up!