The Imperial Messenger
Thomas Friedman at Work
By Belen Fernandez
(Verso, Paperback, 9781844677498, 240pp.)
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.
The Imperial Messenger reveals the true value of this media darling, a risible writer whose success tells us much about the failures of contemporary journalism. Belén Fernández dissects the Friedman corpus with wit and journalistic savvy to expose newsroom practices that favor macho rhetoric over serious inquiry, a pacified readership over an empowered one, and reductionist analysis over integrity.
The Imperial Messenger is polemic at its best, relentless in its attack on this apologist for American empire and passionate in its commitment to justice.
About the series: Counterblasts is a new Verso series that aims to revive the tradition of polemical writing inaugurated by Puritan and leveller pamphleteers in the seventeenth century, when in the words of one of them, Gerard Winstanley, the old world was “running up like parchment in the fire.” From 1640 to 1663, a leading bookseller and publisher, George Thomason, recorded that his collection alone contained over twenty thousand pamphlets. Such polemics reappeared both before and during the French, Russian, Chinese and Cuban revolutions of the last century. In a period of conformity where politicians, media barons and their ideological hirelings rarely challenge the basis of existing society, it’s time to revive the tradition. Verso’s Counterblasts will challenge the apologists of Empire and Capital.
Belén Fernández is an editor and feature writer at Pulse Media. Her articles also have appeared on Al-Jazeera, Al-Akhbar English, CounterPunch, Palestine Chronicle, Palestine Think Tank, Rebelión, Tlaxcala, Electronic Intifada, Upside Down World, the London Review of Books blog and Venezuelanalysis.com, among others. She earned her bachelor’s degree with a concentration in political science from Columbia University in New York City.
“Filleting the silliest man on the planet needs a sure scalpel, and Belén Fernández wields hers with deadly finesse.”—Alexander Cockburn, editor of CounterPunch
“A long overdue takedown of a dangerous fraud. Fernández deserves great credit for having the stomach to digest all of Friedman’s oeuvre and for her witty, fact-based and ruthless deconstruction of all his contradictions, incoherence, jingoism and inane aphorisms. You read it and you are amazed how a clown could rise to such dominance in American culture and how such drivel could pass for insight, and what that implies about us. The book is a vaccination that should be given to all college freshmen lest they too get infected, an antidote for those suffering from admiration of Friedman and a palliative remedy for those of us who have had aneurysms in reaction to his every latest bloviation.”—Nir Rosen, author of Aftermath: Following the Bloodshed of America’s Wars in the Muslim World
“Via razor sharp analysis and meticulous research, Fernández reveals the consistently disastrous effects of the neoliberal policies Friedman cheerleads. The hubris, fallacy, consistent hypocrisy, and buffoonery of the New York Times‘ most widely read columnist is systematically deconstructed and laid bare. A must read.”—Dahr Jamail, journalist and author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq
“Belén Fernández is a revelation to those who don’t know her yet and a confirmation for those happy few who have known her sublime sense of political satire—subdued, innocent, piercing, frightful. She is a political satirist of the generation X vintage—low-key, self-effacing, happenstance, ‘what-ever’-type who crawls under your skin and begins to tickle and before you know it bite. She insinuates so effortlessly, you think she is just chilling—she is not. Her book on Thomas Friedman is an act of restitution, a declaration of independence from a young, idealist, brave, and defiant generation of Americans who have had it up to here with barefaced banality that has been fed to them for too long. She is talking back—boldly, patiently, chapter and verse, going in for the kill.”—Hamid Dabashi, author of Iran, the Green Movement and the USA: The Fox and the Paradox
“Thomas Friedman is a representative for the peculiar, yet self-serving nature of American political, business and media elites. His patronizing, over-simplified (often self-deceiving) style came to define him, as a person, but also an entire era of patronizing, hegemonic and often bloody American foreign policy in the Middle East and the rest of the world. The Imperial Messenger is a superb dissection of the character of Friedman, and all the representations he snootily imitates. Belén Fernández’s style is witty and unique, and her book is the antithesis of Friedman’s various attempts at logic.”—Ramzi Baroud, author of My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story
“Fernández skewers empire’s messenger Tom Friedman. . . .Few books on current affairs merit being called page-turners; because of Fernández’s witty and punchy style, this one does.”—David Cronin, The Electronic Intifada
“[A] meticulously researched book, written with wry wit and an unrelenting critical eye, that should be read by both Friedman’s fans and critics alike; not just for what it reveals about his journalism or the New York Times, but for what it says about the state of American journalism as a whole. In short, if New York’s ‘paper of record’ wanted to start rectifying its own journalistic deficiencies, it would do well to start by replacing Friedman with Fernández.”—Cyril Mychalejko, Toward Freedom
“There is no wittier or sharper account of Thomas Friedman’s intellectual and moral atrocities than Belen Fernández’s The Imperial Messenger.”—Pankaj Mishra, Outlook India
“[C]arefully argued, relentlessly well-written polemic ... there is something compellingly honest about Fernández’s attention to the material context within which Friedman’s ideas find succor.”—Max Ajl, Jadaliyya
“[R]aises thought-provoking questions about the objectivity of mainstream media when it comes to US economic and foreign policy interests.”—Sandra Siagian, Asia Times
“[S]hould be the companion volume to any and all reading of Friedman.”—Jim Miles, Counter Currents
“Journalist Belén Fernández’s new opus Imperial Messenger effectively eviscerating the NYT’s Thomas Friedman (whom Alexander Cockburn, not one to pull punches, has called “the silliest man on the planet”) strikes me as an example of the kind of book that a supine establishment,mainstream media herd must exert some effort to avoid paying even minimal attention.”—Robert Birnbaum, Our Man in Boston
“Fernández subjects Friedman to careful scrutiny and assigns him failing grades for logic, consistency, and integrity. After reading Fernández dissect Friedman column by column, the unavoidable question is: How did Friedman ever pass himself off as a journalist? Why isn’t Belén Fernández the New York Times’ lead columnist? The answer is clear. Fernandez won’t lie for the establishment.”—Paul Craig Roberts, Institute for Political Economy
“[A] systematic, detailed take-down of the neo-liberal bias, myopic US-Israeli chauvinism, and general intellectual shallowness that almost scream to be noticed in Friedman’s writing. Throughout, [Fernández] bolsters her arguments with detail so profuse and tightly packed that a brief review such as this can hardly do it justice. Deserves to be read widely and discussed in depth. After doing so, one may be much less prepared to say the same for the work of Thomas Friedman.”—John Robertson, War in Context
“Those searching for a more thorough and academic destruction of Friedman’s career and philosophy would enjoy The Imperial Messenger, an incisive dismantling of the man and his message.”—Gawker