Mar
14
2011

Edward Said on the 'Clash of Civilizations'

It was great to see this letter in the New York Times from Edward Said's widow (3/11/11): To the Editor: I smiled when I read "Huntington's Clash Revisited," by David Brooks (column, March 4). Eighteen years after Samuel Huntington wrote his Foreign Affairs essay "The Clash of Civilizations," Mr. Brooks has arrived at a conclusion that so many Arabs and Arab-Americans arrived at very soon after its publication. Mr. Huntington's essay and subsequent book, in which he asserted that the peoples of the Islamic world were incapable of developing societies rooted in freedom and democracy, which he perceived to be […]

Jan
12
2011

A Whole Lot of Lone Nuts

Right-wing pundits have come out vociferously against the idea that they, their colleagues and the political movement they identify with have anything to answer for in the wake of the Tucson massacre. David Brooks (New York Times, 1/11/11) asserted that "the evidence before us suggests that [shooting suspect Jared] Loughner was locked in a world far removed from politics as we normally understand it," rejecting as "vicious charges" the notion that the gunman "unleashed his rampage because he was incited by the violent rhetoric of the Tea Party, the anti-immigrant movement and Sarah Palin." George Will (Washington Post, 1/11/11) bitterly […]

Dec
06
2010

Public TV's Austerity Hour

As you may have heard, the White House-backed deficit commission failed to gain a supermajority vote to support a proposal from co-chairs Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Their suggestions came under sharp criticism from liberal and progressive critics. Butthe December 3 broadcast of the PBS NewsHour, a short report on that failure was tilted heavily in favor of supporters of the plan. Quoted in the piece were Bowles, Simpson and their ally Sen. Kent Conrad. Former SEIU chief Andy Stern, who voted against the plan, was the only no vote who was heard from. On December 1, the NewsHour had […]

Nov
05
2010

Can They Pull David Brooks' Pundit License?

New York Times columnist David Brooks is a regular on TV talk shows–including his weekly appearance on the PBS NewsHour (allowing the public to hear regularly from a widely syndicated columnist and commercial TV pundit, just aspublic TV was intended to do!). On a NewsHour midterm election post-mortem discussion (11/3/10), Brooks made this point about the supposed economic ignorance of some voters: If you looked at the exit polls, the independents were more likely than other voters to really be alarmed about the deficits. They were also more likely than other voters to want to protect Social Security, Medicare and […]

May
28
2010

The BP Spill Is Not as Complicated as David Brooks Wants You to Think

David Brooks (New York Times, 5/28/10) informs us that the idea that "government should have more control over industry" is one of the "predictably partisan and often puerile" reactions to the oil spill. The lesson that smart people derive from the spill, Brooks says, is "that humans are not great at measuring and responding to risk when placed in situations too complicated to understand." What follows is, as Matthew Yglesias pointed out (5/28/10), largely cribbed from a 1996 New Yorker essay by Malcolm Gladwell (1/22/96) that argued that "accidents are not easily preventable" because of various psychological pitfalls that humans […]

Jan
29
2010

David Brooks Thinks the Little Guy Isn't Sacrificing Enough

David Brooks, the conservative New York Times columnist who speaks for the little guy who eats at the Applebee's salad bar, has figured out (1/29/10) what Barack Obama ought to do: Force the country to accept common sacrifice. This is the issue that unlocks everything else…. Establish your credibility and offer to raise taxes on the lower 98 percent. At a time of 10 percent unemployment, when the median wage for male workers is lower than it was in 1974, Brooks has a solution: Let them not eat so much cake.

Jan
22
2010

'You Can't Write These Things About People You Respect'

Amy Wilentz has a strong critique of the media in her column in the new issue of the Nation (2/8/10). Starting with the New York Times' David Brooks (1/15/10; see FAIR Blog, 1/15/10), she demolishes his facile comparison of Haiti and Barbados ("Why is Haiti so poor? Well, it has a history of oppression, slavery and colonialism. But so does Barbados, and Barbados is doing pretty well") and then moves on: Brooks goes on to discuss the Haitian family, seemingly basing his argument on a book by Lawrence Harrison, a conservative cultural critic who also knows nothing about Haiti. "Child-rearing […]

Jan
15
2010

Heartless, Patronizing Haiti Pundits

While many are opening their hearts and purses to Haiti's suffering, itâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s important to note the corporate media's high profile exceptions. Televangelist Pat Robertson, carried on Disney's Family Channel, suggested Haiti invited the disaster by making a deal with the devil 200 years ago (FAIR Blog, 1/14/09). Radio big Rush Limbaugh discouraged donating to Haiti disaster relief on his January 13 show, saying: "We've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax…. You just canâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t keep throwing money at it." Meanwhile, Fox's Bill O'Reilly and New York Times columnist David Brooks each presented nauseatingly patronizing prescriptions for Haitiâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s […]

Nov
06
2009

David Brooks' Special Suburbanites

In his New York Times column, David Brooks cheers the rise of suburban independent voters in this week's midterms elections, crediting them with Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia. Brooks has made a career out of singing thepraises of suburban Americans,all the while suggestingthat they are somewhat ignored. While liberals and conservatives have their own media machines and think tanks, Brooks writes: Independents, who are the largest group in the electorate, don't have any of this. They don't have institutional affiliations. They don't look to certain activist lobbies for guidance. There aren't many commentators who come from an independent […]

Jul
23
2009

NYT's David Brooks Scares Up More False Figures

Dean Baker (Beat the Press, 7/21/09) has synopsized the latest fiasco of a David Brooks column under the headline "David Brooks Wanted Tax Increases to Pay for Stimulus"–since, Baker writes, "that is presumably the implication of his complaint that the Democrats paid for the stimulus package 'with borrowed money.'" Predictably, "this is not the only peculiar item in his column. He also claims that only 11 percent of the stimulus will be spent in the first seven months of the program." Even though, as economist Baker explains, the "Congressional Budget Office puts the figure at 20 percent, which doesn't seem […]

Mar
13
2009

David Brooks Loves Data–When It Gives the Right Results

In a typically half-empty David Brooks piece (3/13/09), the columnist praises Barack Obama for embracing "rigor" in education policy, for endorsing "testing and accountability," for "mak[ing] sure results have consequences." He complains about the "education establishment's ability to evade the consequences of data" and that watered-down proficiency standards mean that "parents think their own schools are much better than they are." He commends Obama's commitment to "use data to make decisions," and Education Secretary opposition to "ignoring failure." But Brooks says many doubt whether Obama "has the courage to follow through" on these principles, and point to "the way the […]

Feb
15
2009

Brooks Renames Indispensable 'Lobbyists: Experts'

Salon critic Glenn Greenwald's look (2/14/09, ad-viewing required) at the journalistic powerhouse that was a recent New York Times David Brooks-Gail Collins Internet "conversation" yields the Greenwald observation that "Brooks did an excellent job of explicitly demonstrating most everything that is relevant–and destructive–about the mentality of the standard Beltway journalist." Greenwald quotes Brooks being "really annoyed by… the withdrawal of Tom Daschle" and providing an alternate "word for lobbyists: experts. Some are sleazy and many are quite admirable, but the idea of trying to run Washington without them is absurd." Greenwald's response: To David Brooks, lobbyists are nothing more than […]

Nov
07
2008

Getting Serious About Getting Serious About Bipartisanship

You see some absurd standards being set for how far President-elect Barack Obama should tip his cabinet to the right. Al Kamen in the Washington Post (11/7/07) writes that if "he's serious about this bipartisan thing…then he's going to have to do better than his predecessors, probably putting at least three non-D's in the cabinet ranks, or it will look much like same-old, same-old." He then suggests turning over the departments of State, Defense and Energy to Republicans–because nothing spells "change" like allowing the party in power to keep setting foreign, military and energy policy, does it? Conservative New York […]