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Tom Friedman Moderates His Position on the Internet

John on October 1, 2009 at 9:31 am

I read Tom Friedman’s latest column yesterday bemoaning a deficiency of Vitamin E Pluribus Unum in the nation at this moment:

Mr. Obama is now having his legitimacy attacked by a concerted campaign from the right fringe. They are using everything from smears that he is a closet “socialist” to calling him a “liar” in the middle of a joint session of Congress to fabricating doubts about his birth in America and whether he is even a citizen.

Over at NRO, Victor Davis Hanson offers a nice response:

[T]he sudden liberal worry that conservatives in general have gone over the line in legitimate opposition to Obama’s rather radical agenda is not only unfair but amnesiac…We all recall the Nazi/brownshirts outbursts by Gore, Soros, Byrd, etc., the Aflred Knopf novel Checkpoint about killing Bush, or the Toronto Film Festival award-winning docu-drama about killing Bush — but perhaps we forget there was no outrage from the Democratic congress or the New York Times at all that and worse.

Jay Nordlinger backs him up with more examples here. Just so. You’re a bit late to the party, Tom.

But there was another nugget tucked inside Friedman’s column that I haven’t seen anyone pick up on yet. Recently, he appeared on one of the Sunday shows and went on a rant about the internet:

[T]he Internet is an open sewer of untreated, unfiltered information…

This, combined with his admiration for “enlightened autocracy” in China, led me to ask if he might support Chinese-style net censorship. I very much doubt he read my post, but he does seem to have moderated his position on this issue. Writing on the four factors contributing to the current lack of national consensus, he says:

a blogosphere that at its best enriches our debates, adding new checks on the establishment, and at its worst coarsens our debates to a whole new level, giving a new power to anonymous slanderers to send lies around the world.

That’s a pretty moderate view that I think most of us, left and right could agree with. It’s also a long way from the web-bashing stem-winder he uncorked on TV last week. I’m guessing he heard from some bloggers on this.

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Category: Blogs & New Media, Politics |

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