Saturday, May 1, 2010

"(See above)"

Regular readers of Tom's columns may have noticed a curious trend in the mustachioed marvel's recent oeuvre — the inclusion of quotes from his conversation partners restating points he's already made, often in the exact same terms. A prime example of this can be found towards the bottom of today's column, which discusses Mexican politics.

Why bother presenting quotes that don't add a thing to what you've already said? I see a number of possible explanations: 1) It's an easy way for him to fill space. This theory is strengthened by the fact that he's quite clearly been phoning it in for the last several years. 2) He recognizes that the chattering class has begun to lose faith in him, and he's afraid that unless he provides evidence that somebody else actually agrees, we won't believe him. This theory is strengthened by the fact that the increase in redundant quotes has occurred at the same time as the emergence of widespread Friedman mockery. However, this theory presumes a level of self-awareness on Tom's part that I doubt exists. 3) It's a way of giving shout-outs (shouts-out?) to his buddies, in hopes that by keeping them happy, he can keep getting them to give him ideas for his columns. The problem here is that by making it so transparent that he's getting all his ideas from other people, he risks further deterioration of his own reputation.

Rest assured that we here at Mustache of Understanding will be scouring future columns for evidence that could shed more light on this issue. In the meantime, I'd like to give it a try myself:

Tom Friedman writes things and then feels a need to include a quote from some guy he probably met at a cocktail party repeating whatever point it was he just made. It's really irritating.

"After Tom Friedman makes points in his column, a lot of times he feels that he needs to have a quote from somebody he met at a party or something that restates what he just wrote," said somebody I just met at a cocktail party. "Really, it's irritating."

No comments: