It's possible. Lawrence Wright's profile of Carlos Slim Helu tells us that star New York Times columnist Tom Friedman has unlimited travel expenses, and never really has to explain what he's going to write about before he hits the road. It also quotes Friedman on the future of the news business, saying that, eventually, “It’s going to be us and the BBC and the Wall Street Journal and not a lot more.” Friedman also speaks of the Times partnering with another right-thinking party--perhaps New York mayor and Bloomberg News founder Michael Bloomberg.
As Michael Roston notes, Friedman's comments are--how to put it--inelegant:
I hardly know where to begin, but this has to be one of the worst-timed statements in the history of public relations.
The flat-worlder just got dinged by his own paper’s public editor for an ethical violation - accepting a (later returned) $75,000 speaking fee from a group that was neither educational nor nonprofit in nature. While Friedman fessed up to his transgression, he doesn’t seem to care about its roader ties to his megastardom as a public intellectual who gets paid a ot of money to do and write whatever he wants while still masquerading as a ‘journalist.’Really, while the lumpen proletariat of the Times’s staff await quarterly reports to be issued to see if they’ll still have jobs in 2010, Friedman is boasting that he can go wherever he want, write whatever occurs to him, and spend however much he wants to do those things without any attention to how his profligacy harms the paper’s ability to survive. And he’s insinuating hat his boss doesn’t really care.Then, what’s his solution to the Times’s economic dilemmas? Not for him and other fameballs to spend less, or write things that make more people want to buy his paper/click on the Times’s website/purchase ad space in either edium. His solution is to wait for a Michael Bloomberg-like savior who will invest in the newspaper like it’s behind glass and hanging in the fricking Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Now, as you may have heard, the New York Times Co. also owns the Boston Globe; has threatened to close the paper outright; and is currently trying to wrest some major concessions from the paper's employees. Some unions have already given their approval, but the Boston Newspaper Guild, the paper's biggest union, doesn't vote until June 8.
How do you think the New Yorker's description of Friedman's star treatment is playing among the Globe rank and file?
Bingo! DQM was just forwarded an email sent by Globe staffer Brian Mooney, who's been a particularly vocal critic of the Times Co., to his colleagues. The email includes the text of Roston's column, and offers this gloss:
Colleagues: The New York Times Co. wants you to slit your own throats and take money out of your pockets so Tom Friedman (and others in New York) can travel in style and at great expense -- and then brag about it.The Times (not the Globe) lost $74.5 million last quarter and will lose a bundle in this quarter.Stand up and tell the Times the contract they're trying to shove down your throats is an outrage.Vote No on June 8.