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Watch > Episode > Thomas Friedman - Facebook Under Fire

Thomas Friedman - Facebook Under Fire


Thomas Loren Friedman is an internationally renowned author, reporter and New York Times columnist. His journalistic career has spanned four decades with extensive writings on foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalisation, and environmental issues. He is the recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of seven bestselling books, including; “From Beirut to Jerusalem”, “The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century” and the recently released “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations”. He also interviewed, and some say advised President Barack Obama.

Thomas was born in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, into a Jewish family. He attended Brandeis University, where he earned a degree in Mediterranean studies with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. This academic background laid the foundation for his later interest in international affairs and shaped his understanding of the geopolitical landscape.

Friedman’s journalistic journey began at the London Bureau of United Press International (UPI). He later joined The New York Times in 1981, where he has been a foreign affairs columnist since 1995. Friedman’s early reporting covered events such as the Lebanese Civil War, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the First Intifada, providing readers with firsthand insights into the complexities of the Middle East.

In 1989, Thomas Friedman received the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his coverage of the Middle East. The recognition solidified his reputation as a formidable journalist with a deep understanding of the region’s intricate political dynamics. Friedman’s work reflects his commitment to providing nuanced and comprehensive analyses rather than simplistic narratives, a characteristic that sets him apart in the field of international journalism.

One of Thomas Friedman’s seminal works is “The Lexus and the Olive Tree,” published in 1999. In this book, Friedman explores the impact of globalisation on societies, economies, and cultures worldwide. He introduces the metaphor of the “Lexus” representing globalised technology and commerce and the “Olive Tree” symbolising cultural identity and tradition. The book delves into the tensions and interactions between these two forces, providing readers with a framework to understand the complexities of the modern world.

In “The World is Flat,” published in 2005, Friedman further expands on the theme of globalisation. He argues that technological advancements, particularly in communication and information technology, have levelled the playing field, allowing individuals and businesses worldwide to compete on a more equal footing. Friedman identifies ten “flatteners” that have contributed to this phenomenon, offering a comprehensive perspective on the interconnectedness of the global economy.

Beyond international affairs, Thomas Friedman has also been an advocate for environmental sustainability. He highlights the urgency of addressing climate change and explores the intersection of environmental issues with global politics and economics. Friedman’s commitment to raising awareness about the environmental challenges facing the planet underscores his belief in the interconnected nature of global issues.

While Thomas Friedman has received acclaim for his work, he has not been without criticism. Some argue that his perspectives oversimplify complex issues, and others question his close ties to powerful political and corporate figures. Despite the controversies, Friedman’s influence remains significant, and his ability to communicate complex ideas to a broad audience has contributed to shaping public discourse on global affairs.

Thomas Friedman’s career has been defined by a commitment to understanding and explaining the intricate dynamics of the modern world. His insightful analyses, profound books, and thought-provoking columns have made him a key figure in international journalism. Through his work, Friedman invites readers to engage with the complexities of globalisation, offering a perspective that goes beyond headlines and encourages a deeper understanding of our interconnected and ever-evolving global landscape.


00:00 | Trailer
02:26 Brian’s thoughts on the episode
06:24 Brian’s introduction
07:02 Thomas’ memories of living in London
08:35 Start of journalistic career in Fleet Street, London, leads to war in Beirut
14:22 The 1983 United States embassy bombing
18:28 Difference in journalism of today compared with when he started
20:01 Why Facebook is not for Thomas
24:06 Facebook needs to get its act together
30:46 Putin always seems always to be looking for dignity in all the wrong places
33:49 President Trump is a disturbed man and a disgusting human being
35:56 The only way for Trump not to be re-elected
42:53 Climate change is real, but Trump has no science advisor
45:08 Thomas compares Barack Obama’s presidency with Donald Trump’s
46:58 North Korea is a dynasty and what that tells you
48:40 What influences Thomas’ journalistic style and phraseology50:15 Israel and Iran could be a devastating conflict we are not expecting
52:08 Why we should care what is happening now in Saudi Arabia
55:47 How Thomas’ relationship began with Saudi Arabia and led to the Arab Peace Initiative
59:24 Why Thomas was for the invasion of Iraq and the lessons he learnt from it
1:05:06 The process of writing a newspaper column
1:12:15 What scares him
1:12:32 The most influential person in his life
1:14:22 Phone call to the 20-year old Thomas Friedman
1:17:22 Advice to the young people watching to prepare them for the future
1:18:50 Brian’s summing up.


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