Larison is incensed by Friedman’s ability to ignore the atrocities being perpetrated by the Saudis and their allies in Yemen, while he puffs up the Crown Prince as a reformer who will take Saudi Arabia back to its freer days.
The worst part writes Larison, is not that Friedman has been hoodwinked by Saudi propaganda, but that many others in the Western media have as well. He writes:
It would be more accurate to say that only a fool would be so quick to take all of this at face value. I don’t see the news value in having a prominent columnist working as a foreign leader’s publicist, but it is extremely useful for the crown prince to be given a major platform to deliver his spin to someone who will uncritically endorse it. There is practically nothing in the long profile that might displease its subject, whose assurances are taken as proof that he is the zealous “reformer” that his cheerleaders say that he is. Friedman tells us that he couldn’t find anyone with a bad word to say about MBS’ purges, as if anyone there would feel free to do so after the dramatic mass arrests that the crown prince has orchestrated.
I would like to dismiss this piece as the latest example of Friedman’s terrible, superficial analysis of the rest of the world, but unfortunately his eager acceptance of MBS’s self-serving claims is all too typical of Western reactions to the crown prince. Western pundits are always on the lookout for foreign leaders that say the right things about tolerance and reform, and when they find someone mouthing the words they tend to cast aside their skepticism and start “rooting” for that leader.
Read more here.