NYT’s Friedman: Biden Is ‘Really Hard to Hate,’ I Hate Writing About Trump

A month ago, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman was on with CNN host Chris “Fredo” Cuomo and declared the Republican Party was the “biggest threat to our democracy since the Civil War.” But on Sunday’s so-called “Reliable Sources,” Friedman had a completely different tune when gushing to CNN host Brian Stelter about how it was “really hard to hate” President-elect Joe Biden, and how much he hated writing about President Trump.

In the A-block of the program, Stelter brought Friedman into the discussion by asking him how he got an interview with Biden for his column. “So, Thomas Friedman, you’ve been on the receiving end. How does it work when Biden just calls you up? Did you ask for this interview? Was he out seeking your advice? How did this work?”

Friedman was more than willing to help Stelter live vicariously through him. And after his explanation (he asked Biden’s handlers), the columnist launching into talking about how the New York Times comment section loved the interview and loved Biden:

And, you know, to pick up on Evan’s point, you know, one of the most striking things in talking to the President-elect, and you saw this in the comments on the column, is how many people said, “I forgot what it was like to listen to a president who was not entirely self-reverential, not entirely you know exclamatory, not entirely you know promoting fake news. Just a sound, sober, thoughtful conversation about the big issues of the day. I forgot.”

Of course, he had plenty of adulation for Biden too.

The other thing that really came through to me is that we are really lucky, I think, to have a president who’s just really hard to hate at a time when our politics is so infused with hate,” Friedman touted. “And that’s one of the things that I think is going to do him and the country well, I hope, in the coming months.”

Stelter followed up by wondering if Biden read The Times and had an appreciation for legacy media. Friedman responded by boasting about how he had traveled with Biden to Afghanistan and about how mature he was (Click “expand”):

STELTER: Do you have an impression that he reads The New York Times, cares about your columns, cares about, like Evan said, the classics in media?

FRIEDMAN: You know, yeah. I actually traveled to Afghanistan with Joe Biden when he was head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. So, I’ve known him for a while. He is a man who is curious about the world, who is informed about the world. But again, to pick up on something Evan said, there’s just an adult nature about him. He is wise to all the shtick out there. He doesn’t chase every rabbit. There’s a maturity to him that I hope we’ll benefit from as well.

A short time later, Friedman continued his bloviating by opining about how much he hated covering Trump. “Brian, I pray to God I never, ever, ever have to write another column about Donald Trump again,” he sneered.

He then suggested Trump was afraid that no one was going to pay attention to him once he was out of office. “And I will tell you, Donald Trump will not be the same Donald Trump when his limousine is yellow, when he is hailing a cab, and his driver speaks Farsi. And he knows that more than anyone,” he said, using his tired out Jim Baker analogy and overlooking Trump’s personal limo.

This comment was teed up by Stelter, who lauded a Google trends search which he suggested showed “A clear decline in interest in the outgoing president” over the last month. Of course, he provided no context as to where the numbers were before the election.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

CNN’s Reliable Sources
December 6, 2020
11:06:48 a.m. Eastern

(…)

BRIAN STELTER: So, Thomas Friedman, you’ve been on the receiving end. How does it work when Biden just calls you up? Did you ask for this interview? Was he out seeking your advice? How did this work?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN: I actually asked for it. And was pleased that it came through, Brian.

And, you know, to pick up on Evan’s point, you know, one of the most striking things in talking to the President-elect, and you saw this in the comments on the column, is how many people said, “I forgot what it was like to listen to a president who was not entirely self-reverential, not entirely you know exclamatory, not entirely you know promoting fake news. Just a sound, sober, thoughtful conversation about the big issues of the day. I forgot.”

The other thing that really came through to me is that we are really lucky, I think, to have a president who’s just really hard to hate at a time when our politics is so infused with hate. And that’s one of the things that I think is going to do him and the country well, I hope, in the coming months.

STELTER: Do you have an impression that he reads The New York Times, cares about your columns, cares about, like Evan said, the classics in media?

FRIEDMAN: You know, yeah. I actually traveled to Afghanistan with Joe Biden when he was head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. So, I’ve known him for a while. He is a man who is curious about the world, who is informed about the world. But again, to pick up on something Evan said, there’s just an adult nature about him. He is wise to all the shtick out there. He doesn’t chase every rabbit. There’s a maturity to him that I hope we’ll benefit from as well.

(…)

11:09:34 a.m. Eastern

STELTER: Now from Biden to Trump, Thomas Friedman, Trump desperately wants to be the story, he wants to win the attention war, he wants everyone’s attention. But look at this Google search data from the past month. A clear decline in interest in the outgoing president. And yet at these rallies we see super fans are very excited to see him; there’s live coverage on the right-wing channels last night.

So, there’s a dichotomy here, right, where he might be winning the attention war with his fans making more money off the grift, and yet maybe the rest of the country is moving on. How do you view this as a columnist? Are you moving on or are you still interested in writing about Trump or should we just ignore him at this point?

FRIEDMAN: Brian, I pray to God I never, ever, ever have to write another column about Donald Trump again. I don’t think that’s likely, but I will tell you this. You know, I think one of the reasons he doesn’t want to call the election is he knows something, because this is a guy who understands power. He knows that the minute he actually concedes, Brian, those phone calls, they don’t get returned so quickly. Fox doesn’t put you on so quickly.

You know, Jim Baker used to say, how do you know you are out of power in Washington? Is when your limousine is yellow and your driver speaks Farsi. And I will tell you, Donald Trump will not be the same Donald Trump when his limousine is yellow, when he is hailing a cab, and his driver speaks Farsi. And he knows that more than anyone.

How much? He’ll have influence, absolutely, there’s no question about it. He’s got a cult of personality. No question about it. But this is what Biden actually talked about in the interview with me. How many Republicans will still be with him? Maybe I could peel off 20, 25 percent. And if he can, maybe we can actually start to govern again in an effective way.

(…)

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