Columnist Thomas Friedman went against much established opinion when he wrote about Saudi Arabia’s “Arab Spring” and the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman for the New York Times a few days ago. “The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia,” began the article.

“If it succeeds, it will not only change the character of Saudi Arabia but the tone and tenor of Islam across the globe,” wrote the foreign-affairs op-ed columnist, leading into his interview with the 32-year-old crown prince about the latter’s ideas for transforming his country.

Friedman’s article, expressing admiration and optimism for the prince’s plans, was bound to create a storm of controversy, which hit him in the form of social media comments as well as media criticism. Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera called his piece “nauseating.”

But Friedman came up with a strong response to his critics (video above). “I got news for you,” said Friedman, before he proceeded to defend his opinion. The entire Arab world is dysfunctional, he argued, so when someone bucks the trend, he must be supported.