Longform’s Guide to Takedowns: Thomas Friedman, Jay Mariotti, and TED

Longform.org's guide to the greatest long articles ever written.
Aug. 18 2012 8:07 AM

The Longform Guide to Takedowns

In which Thomas Friedman, Jay Mariotti, and TED are eviscerated.

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Flathead
Matt Taibbi • New York Press • April 2005

Taibbi goes after New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman for both his politics and his prose.

“Predictably, Friedman spends ... his huge book piling one insane image on top of the other, so that by the end—and I'm not joking here—we are meant to understand that the flat world is a giant ice-cream sundae that is more beef than sizzle, in which everyone can fit his hose into his fire hydrant, and in which most but not all of us are covered with a mostly good special sauce. Moreover, Friedman's book is the first I have encountered, anywhere, in which the reader needs a calculator to figure the value of the author's metaphors.”

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The Naked and the TED
Evgeny Morozov • New Republic • August 2012

Ostensibly a review of several releases on the TED Books imprint, this becomes an evisceration of the entire TED-talk culture of pop intellectualism.

“The Khannas are typical of the TED crowd in that they do not express much doubt about anything. Their pronouncements about political structures are as firm and arrogant as some scientists’ pronouncements about the cognitive structures of the brain. Whatever problems lurk on the horizon are imagined primarily as problems of technology, which, given enough money, brain power, and nutritional supplements, someone in Silicon Valley should be in a position to solve.”

Microsoft's Lost Decade
Kurt Eichenwald • Vanity Fair • August 2012

A look at the internal culture at Microsoft under Steve Ballmer.

“The story of Microsoft’s lost decade could serve as a business-school case study on the pitfalls of success. For what began as a lean competition machine led by young visionaries of unparalleled talent has mutated into something bloated and bureaucracy-laden, with an internal culture that unintentionally rewards managers who strangle innovative ideas that might threaten the established order of things.”

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Jody Avirgan is an associate producer at The Brian Lehrer Show.

Elon Green is a contributor to Longform.org.