My Lunch With Thomas L. Friedman

Veteran NYTimes Columnist Laments the Rise of Trump’s Big Lie, Then Blames the Far Left For It

Micah Sifry
7 min readMay 23, 2022


Thomas L. Friedman at the World Economic Forum, Davos, 2013 (Photo by Michael Wuertemberg)

Thomas L. Friedman invited me for lunch at his office at The New York Times Washington bureau last week. It was all off the record, so I can’t tell you anything he said.

I can, though, tell you two things — what I ate and how I felt after. I ate a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato on whole wheat bread, with a bowl of strawberries and a chocolate-vanilla milkshake for dessert that was so good I needed to take a nap after lunch.

What I felt afterward was this: For all you trolls on the Internet who say that Friedman can’t write two sentences without one of them being a cliché, here’s a news flash: He just wrote another trenchant column about the need to defend democracy around the world, starting with Ukraine and including the United States, and despite the main threat to democracy being rising far-right authoritarianism abroad and at home, he managed to make the “far left” the main bugaboo of our times. (And he also wrote a sentence with two colons in it, like the one that starts this paragraph, and somehow the New York Times’ copy desk let him get away with it.)

For a columnist who many think is an old war horse who should have long been put out to…