Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

12 January, 2007

Failing upwards

George W. Bush isn't the only person to have followed failure on to bigger and better things. According to the good folks at Editor & Publisher, the fortunes of those pundits who were (spectacularly) wrong on Iraq have been waxing, while those whose foresight has been vindicated have languished. Example #1, NYT war-pimp Thomas Friedman:
Friedman initially supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq, then kept writing columns giving the Bush administration six months to fix things after the war went sour, and then belatedly turned against the war. So what happened to Friedman's career after being wrong for so long?

Reed writes: "Before the war he was charging less than $40,000 to give a speech; these days it's a rumored $65,000. And afterward the audiences are encouraged to scoop up copies of 'The World is Flat,' his love letter to corporate globalism that has been on the Times best-seller list for 91 weeks. The royalties certainly help defray the costs of a $9.3 million mansion in Bethesda and a second home in Aspen that -- if the local phone book and Google Earth are to be trusted -- is a massive chateau with its own lake on the swanky northern side of town. ...

"Friedman was feted by Queen Elizabeth in 2004, and also received a lifetime award from the Overseas Press Club. Though he was probably the most influential pro-war voice in the American media, he still hasn't had to own up to his mistake. If you ask him about it -- as Don Imus did recently -- he quotes a few misgivings from his columns to demonstrate that he was quite aware the war could be a fiasco and a bloodbath. ..."

Friedman's status as the Times' number one pundit has always perplexed me, from his glowing reviews of global capitalism as seen from the floor of a New Delhi customer-service call center to his "conversations" with fictional cab-drivers. But despite his prognostications based on some alternative reality, he seems to be doing pretty well for himself. How about one of the pundits who got it right?
One was Creators Syndicate columnist Robert Scheer, now based at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Reed writes: "As a liberal columnist for the Los Angeles Times, Scheer argued relentlessly against the war, focusing on the dishonesty of the administration's efforts to 'frighten the American people into supporting' it and seeking to bypass rational discussion and analysis by making Saddam into a cartoonish 'super-villain'. ... His work constituted perhaps the most full-throated anti-war voice on the editorial page of a major American newspaper."

The result? "Fired from the Times in 2005, his column was handed over to the well-fed and well-connected pro-war conservative, Jonah Goldberg [of Tribune Media Services]," Reed says. "Scheer wrote afterwards, 'The publisher Jeff Johnson, who has offered not a word of explanation to me, has privately told people that he hated every word that I wrote. I assume that mostly refers to my exposing the lies used by President Bush to justify the invasion of Iraq.'"

Ouch! Replaced by the Doughy Pantload (as tbogg would have it). Let it never be said that America doesn't like a loser!

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