Sandwiched in the New Yorker‘s profile of Carlos Helu Slim, the Mexican billionaire who’s bailing out the New York Times, is this dreadful item:
Thomas Friedman, the Times’ chief foreign affairs columnist, lauded the efforts that Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., has made to keep the newsroom intact, saying, “I just have a great deal of admiration for him.” He told me that since taking his current post, in 1995, he has never been asked by Sulzberger what he was planning to write, or how high his travel expenses would be. “To be able to say what I want to say and go where I want to go—other than a Sulzberger-owned newspaper, you tell me where that exists today.” (Of course, star reporters like Friedman live in a special universe, even at the Times.)
Friedman’s boasting about his ability to spend the Times money comes at a particularly awkward time: he’s just been criticized by the paper’s public editor for accepting a $75,000 speaking fee (he returned it) and the Times Company is not exactly in the best financial shape right now. I assume the journalists at the Times-owned Boston Globe, in danger of losing their jobs because of the company’s precarious financial situation, were not particularly impressed by the size of Friedman’s expense account. One writes, in an email obtained by the Boston Phoenix:
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.
Tom Friedman would be a real mensch if he cut back on his expenses and took a pay cut to help save reporting jobs.