Is David Brooks, NYT Columnist and NPR Talking Head, Intellectually Honest?

A list of the titles of David Brooks recent books suggests a man struggling to be ethical, honest, and kind:

  • Some Books by David Brooks
    • The Second Mountain: The Quest For The Moral Life, 2019
    • The Road To Character, 2016
    • Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, 2000

However, a review of Brooks’ past writings suggested that, in fact, he is just another intellectually dishonest right wing flack pushing the interests  of the economic elite.

His tone, speaking style, and writing style is more polished and less unpleasant than his coworkers in right wing disinformation industry (stalwarts like Hannity, Limbaugh, every “fellow” at the Manhattan Institute, Club For Growth, American Enterprise Institute).

But his writings always have the same themes that the others mentioned above have: Namely, that the demands and desires of the super rich inheritors and their apologists and public relations spinners are more important, more just, and more practical than the needs of the majority of Americans.

See The David Brooks files: How many uncorrected mistakes does it take to be discredited? Posted by Andrew on 16 June 2015, 5:18 pm from Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science:

Here is the post in its entirety [be sure and follow all the links in the article as they provide more examples of David Brooks lifelong intellectual duplicity]:

OK, why am I writing this? We all know that New York Times columnist David Brooks deals in false statistics, he’s willing and able to get factual matters wrong, he doesn’t even fact-check his own reporting, his response when people point out his mistakes is irritation rather than thanks, he won’t run a correction even if the entire basis for one of his columns is destroyed, and he thinks that he thinks technical knowledge is like the recipes in a cookbook and can be learned by rote. A friend of facts, he’s not.

But we know all that. So I was not surprised when Adam Sales pointed me to this recent article by David Zweig, “The facts vs. David Brooks: Startling inaccuracies raise questions about his latest book.”

Unlike Zweig (or his headline writer), I was hardly startled that Brooks had inaccuracies. Accuracy ain’t Brooks’s game.

And Jonathan Falk pointed me to this review by Mark Liberman of many instances where Brooks got things wrong.

Amazingly enough, the errors pointed out by Sales and Liberman don’t even overlap with the errors that I’d noticed in some Brooks columns—the anti-Semitic education statistics and his completely wrong guess about the social backgrounds of rich people.

Anyway, this is all known, and my first response was a flippant, Yeah, no kidding, David Brooks is like Gregg Easterbrook without the talent.

Just to be clear: this is not meant as a backhand slam on Easterbrook, a columnist who, like Brooks, loves to quote statistics but can get them horribly wrong. Easterbrook is a good writer, a fun football columnist, and sparkles with ideas. He really does have talent.

So here’s my question

Anyway, to continue, here’s my question: How is it that Brooks, who has such a reputation for screwing things up, continues to occupy his high post in journalism? Where did he get his Isiah Thomas-like ability to keep bouncing back from adversity, his Ray Keene-like ability to violate the norms of journalistic ethics?

And it’s not just the New York Times. Here, for example, is a puff piece that appeared on NPR a couple months ago. The reporter didn’t get around to asking, Hey, David Brooks, what about those fake statistics you published??

What will it take for Brooks’s external reputation to catch up to his internal reputation? Lots of things have come out over the years and it hasn’t happened yet. But this new story that came in, maybe it will make a difference. Straw that broke the camel’s back and all that.

For example, that NPR story quoted Brooks quoting a statistic that, according to Zweig’s thorough investigation, got “nearly every detail” wrong. NPR reporters don’t like to be patsies, right? Publishing fake numbers in the NYT is one thing—heck, Brooks has columns to fill every week, he can’t be picky and choosy about his material. But promulgating this in other news outlets, that could annoy people.

And, once Brooks loses the constituency of his fellow journalists, what does he have left?

At that point, he’s Dennis Miller without the jokes.

And here is an earlier post that I’ve incorporated into this one.

New York Times columnist David Brooks* has made a successful career as a “reasonable” right-wing pundit simply because of his pleasingly measured tone of voice and writing style.

But in fact, this former columnist of the Weekly Standard** is simply another intellectually dishonest right wing flack. Read the article It’s Time for David Brooks to Reckon With David Brooks FEBRUARY 23, 2017 from The Nation.

The above article is especially important in documenting Brooks’ intellectually dishonest contortions over the years. It is worth reading in its entirety.

And see also the following:

*David Brooks from Wikipedia:


Brooks’ writing on sociology has been criticized for being based on stereotypes and presenting false claims as factual.[78][79] In 2004, Sasha Issenberg, writing for Philadelphiamagazine, fact-checked Bobos in Paradise, concluding that many of its comments about middle America were misleading or the exact reverse of the truth.[80] He reported Brooks as insisting that the book was not intended to be factual but to report his impressions of what he believed an area to be like: “He laughed…'[The book was] partially tongue-in-cheek’…I went through some of the other instances where he made declarations that appeared insupportable. He accused me of being ‘too pedantic,’ of ‘taking all of this too literally,’ of ‘taking a joke and distorting it.’ ‘That’s totally unethical’, he said.” Brooks later said the article made him feel that “I suck…I can’t remember what I said but my mother told me I was extremely stupid.”[9] In 2015, Salon found that Brooks had got “nearly every detail” wrong about a poll of high-school students.[81]

Michael Kinsley argued that Brooks was guilty of “fearless generalizing… Brooks does not let the sociology get in the way of the shtick, and he wields a mean shoehorn when he needs the theory to fit the joke”.[82] Writing for Gawker, which consistently criticized Brooks’ work, opinion writer Tom Scocca argued that Brooks does not use facts and statistics to support his policy positions, noting “possibly that is because he perceives facts and statistics as an opportunity for dishonest people to work mischief”.[83] Furthermore, Annie Lowrey, in writing for the New York Magazine, criticized Brooks’ statistical methods when arguing his stance on political reform, claiming he used “some very tricksy, misleading math”.[84]

Additionally, Sean Illing of Slate criticized the same article from Brooks, claiming he argued his point by framing his sources’ arguments out of context and routinely making bold “half-right” assumptions regarding the controversial issue of poverty reform.[85]

In 2016, James Taranto criticized[86] Brooks’ analysis[87] of a U.S. Supreme Court case,[88] writing that “Brooks’s treatment of this case is either deliberately deceptive or recklessly ignorant”.[86] Law professor Ann Althouse concurred that Brooks “distorts rather grotesquely” the case in question.[89] Brooks was previously criticized by Lyle Denniston with regard to another case, for having “scrambled the actual significance of what the Supreme Court has done”.[90]

**The Weekly Standard from Wikipedia:

The Weekly Standard is an American conservative[2][3][4][5][6] opinion magazine[7] published 48 times per year. Its founding publisher, News Corporation, debuted the title on September 18, 1995. Originally edited by founders William Kristol and Fred Barnes, the Standard has been described as a “redoubt of neoconservatism” and as “the neo-con bible.”[8][9][10] It is currently owned by MediaDC, a subsidiary of Clarity Media Group, itself a subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation.[11]

Many of the magazine’s articles are written by members of conservative think tanks located in Washington: the American Enterprise Institute, the Ethics and Public Policy Center, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Hudson Institute, as well as the Foreign Policy Initiative. Individuals who have written for the magazine include Elliott AbramsPeter BerkowitzJohn R. BoltonEllen BorkDavid BrooksGertrude HimmelfarbChristopher HitchensHarvey MansfieldCynthia OzickJoe Queenan, and John Yoo. The magazine’s website also produces regular online-only commentaries and news articles.

Although the publication had, as of 2006, never been profitable and reputedly lost “more than a million dollars a year,” News Corporation head Rupert Murdoch had previously dismissed the idea of selling it.[12] In June 2009, a report circulated that a sale of the publication to Philip Anschutz was imminent, with Murdoch’s position being that, having purchased The Wall Street Journal in 2007, his interest in the smaller publication had diminished.[13][14] The Washington Examiner reported that the Examiner’s parent company, the Anschutz-owned Clarity Media Group, had purchased the Standard.[15][16] After the sale to the Clarity Media Group, the Standardincreased its paid circulation by 39 percent between its June 2009 and June 2010 BPA statements.[17]


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