New York Times’ Friedman Slammed For Puff Piece On Saudi Royal

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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New York Times opinion writer Thomas Friedman is getting roasted for writing a glowing profile of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.

The article published Thursday came amid a Saudi blockade that is causing a humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the alleged kidnapping of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Friedman wrote favorably about Bin Salman in the piece entitled “Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last.”

“I told him his work habits reminded me of a line in the play ‘Hamilton,’ when the chorus asks: Why does he always work like ‘he’s running out of time,'” the Times columnist wrote, referring to the musical loved by American elites.

The column focused on Salman’s stated efforts to modernize Saudi Arabia, which include allowing women to drive and fighting corruption.

Friedman offered very little critique in the article towards Bin Salman, and when he did it was about the crown prince’s tendency to rely on an inner circle and maintain too many goals.

“Over multiple courses of lamb in Riyadh, the Saudi Crown Prince easily convinced Tom Friedman that he’s a genuine reformer, mega-popular dude, and an all around super awesome guy,” foreign affairs journalist Avi Asher-Schapiro tweeted.

While a colleague of Friedman’s, the Times’ Tehran bureau chief Thomas Erdbrink, tweeted, “BREAKING: Saudi Arabia, which has funded extremist Wahabi mosques across Europe to become beacon of liberal Islam.”

The Times’ editorial board noted in a piece earlier this year that while Saudi Arabia claims to combat terrorism it “undermines whatever good work it does by continuing to spend billions of dollars spreading Wahhabism, its ultraconservative brand of Islam — which in turn inspires ISIS, Al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists — through a network of imams and mosques in countries like Kosovo, Indonesia and Pakistan.”

Friedman claimed in his article that the Saudi leader wants to bring “Saudi Islam back to the center.”

Georgetown University scholar Abdullah Al-Arian noted that the Times has been using similar language to describe Saudi royals for decades.