It’s usually pretty easy to ignore New York Times columnist David Brooks, who, along with eminently ignorable Washington Post columnist George Will, is what passes for an oasis in the sere, forbidding desert of intellectual conservatism these days.
But as Daily Kos’ Laura Clawson reported on Thursday, Brooks’ mealy takes on The Culture became impossible to ignore this week when he xweeted a xweet on X—the social media platform still pretty much known as Twitter—that was so out of touch it could have been crafted and focus-grouped by Mehmet Oz’s 2020 Senate campaign.
The tweet included a tableau of Biden-era economic horrors: a serviceable burger, a modest pile of crinkle cut fries, three empty ketchup packets, a ripe-ish tomato slice, and some unremarkable greens for—$78?! Oh, and it looks like there’s a tumbler of something, too. Could be some sort of brown liquor. And is that maybe an empty tumbler in the upper left there?
But still. Seventy-eight dollars?! What economic evils hath that fiend Joe Biden wrought this time?
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First, the tweet—with a very notable bit of community-created context:
Because most people in this country actually make their own purchases—unlike, say, Donald Trump, who still hasn’t figured out you don’t need a government-issued ID to buy a loaf of Wonder Bread or the striped Goober Grape to go with it—they figured out pretty quickly what was going on. Brooks apparently spent around $17 on the meal itself, whereas the bulk of his bill—about 80%, according to a helpful Facebook post from the restaurant in question—was for liquor. Perhaps Brooks was feeding Rudy Giuliani under the table. Or maybe he finally realized the conservative movement’s intellectual and moral lodestar has permanently shifted from small-government, free-market orthodoxy to getting belligerently drunk on airplanes.
Either way, he was called out, big-time.
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The scorn rained down on Xwitter, of course, but the owner of the restaurant Brooks had lightly defamed also had something to say about it.
As NJ.com reported Thursday, Maurice Hallett, the owner of 1911 Smoke House BBQ at Newark Airport, quickly realized that Brooks had targeted his eatery. Now he’s taking full advantage of the columnist’s dopey foray into MAGA-style populism. Like many Twitter observers, Hallett noted that he charges far less than $78 for a meal—about $17 to $18 for a burger and fries—at his airport restaurant, and so nothing in Brooks’ post made a lick of sense.
The reason it won’t be available at the airport? As anyone who’s ever been foolish enough to find themselves hungry at an airport can attest, airport meals are notoriously pricey, because airport-based eateries’ overhead costs are often as high as the folks buying food there.
“The rents are outrageous,” Hallett told NJ.com. “A $17 burger and fries—that’s par for the course.”
But while Brooks’ tweet appears to have put a sizable dent in his reputation for … whatever it is he supposedly has a reputation for, it’s been a boon for Hallett’s business. He’s been heavily promoting his “D Brooks” special through Facebook
, just in time for the premiere of a new Smoke House location in Willingboro, New Jersey, next month!
“I couldn’t pay for this kind of advertising,” he acknowledged. In your face, Brooks!
As for Brooks’ tweet, which has been viewed more than 32 million times and counting, Hallett appears surprised it wasn’t swiftly taken down—though he’s obviously not complaining, despite observing that its content was “majorly off-base.”
“I’m surprised his original post is still up,” said Hallett.
There’s a larger lesson here, of course. The media tend to create the prevailing narratives we plebes are often forced to swim against, and The New York Times has an outsized role in setting the national news agenda. That one of its leading lights would so awkwardly insert himself into the conversation to trash Biden’s ongoing economic recovery—which, by most objective measures, is now going better than just about anyone expected
—shows how clueless these nattering nabobs
can be. Or, to be somewhat less charitable, how dishonest. But hey, maybe people think the economy is so “terrible” because people in the media keep telling them that.
Then again, if you really want to see how out of touch Brooks is, you need look no further than his latest column, published on Thursday
, right around the time the Twitter mob was pouring scorn on him like boiling oil from the castle ramparts. Brooks was writing about the self-indulgent edgelord Elon Musk, but he could have very well been describing himself:
A person so consumed by a myth is not seeking to be conventionally successful, Dennis Ford argues in his book “The Search for Meaning”; he or she is trying “to be faithful to the mythic pattern.” Such a person is not seeing the world the rest of us are seeing, but his own mythic world, and is trying to recruit people into his own reality.
Indeed. David Brooks sees a mythic world where hamburgers cost $78 because Biden something-something. Luckily, most of us are too savvy to be recruited into such a risible “reality.”