We’re on Day 3 of “David Brooks Drank $60 Worth of Hooch at an Airport and Indirectly Blamed Joe Biden”-Gate. Because he’s not Donald Trump—who loves to grab a bad news cycle and take it for a few extra spins around the block—this will probably be the end of this episode of “Rich Guy Orders Three Large Tumblers of Premium Bourbon and Instantly Feels Your Pain.”
In fact, on PBS’ “NewsHour” on Friday, Brooks, who appeared on a panel with host William Brangham and The Washington Post associate editor Jonathan Capehart, even attempted an apology of sorts. The New York Times columnist didn’t cop to essentially lying about our nation’s long and difficult economic recovery from the depths of pandemic disruption. Instead, he claimed he’d been “insensitive” to the plight of ordinary Americans who, on a good day, might comfortably afford two well drinks at the dive bar across from the downtown Greyhound station.
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In case you somehow missed it, on Wednesday Brooks bemoaned a $78 tab for his meal at the Newark Airport, which consisted of an unremarkable burger and a handful of crinkle cut fries. It certainly seemed like an outrageous expenditure for such a meager meal. The burger’s bun didn’t even have sesame seeds! And as far as Brooks knows, those seeds are individually appended by hungry Dickensian street waifs who were thrown back into poverty when Republicans refused to extend Biden’s family-supporting Child Tax Credit.
See? Brooks gets what American families are going through.
That said, when he posted this, he must have been drunk. Note that “added context” at the bottom.
Of course, as many, many observers noted, the bulk of that $78—around 80%, according to the fact-check Xwitter attached to the tweet—was spent on tumblers of brown liquor.
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Even Brooks isn’t obtuse enough to ignore the rivers of derision that flowed in response to that tweet, and so toward the end of his “NewsHour” appearance, he attempted some damage control.
Transcript (it’s a doozy)!
BRANGHAM: “David, before we go, I want to ask you about this tweet that you put out this week, and we can put this up on-screen. You posted this tweet that showed dinner that you were having at an airport and that it cost $78, and you wrote, ‘This is why the American people think the economy is terrible.’ You got roughed up a little bit online about this, but I’m just curious more about what you were trying to convey with that.”
BROOKS: “Well, first, it started out hatched in my mind as a joke, because if you looked at what I was eating, it was bourbon and a very fattening hamburger and fries, and I can’t afford to make bad lifestyle choices. But the problem with the tweet, which I wrote so stupidly, was that it made it seem like I was oblivious to something that was blindingly obvious, that an upper-middle-class journalist having a bourbon at an airport is a lot different than a family living paycheck to paycheck. And when I’m getting sticker shock, it’s like, an inconvenience. When they’re getting sticker shock, it’s a disaster. And so I was insensitive, I screwed up, I should not have written that tweet, I probably should not write any tweets.”
BRANGHAM: “That’s advice we should all be taking.”
BROOKS: “But I made a mistake. It was stupid. But the one point that is, maybe can be drawn, if anything can be drawn, is you can experience inflation as a chart with downward-slope inflation is coming down, but the way we experience inflation day to day is as that moment of sticker shock. You’re in the grocery store, you’re at the gas station, and suddenly it costs something way more than you anticipated. And for someone less fortunate than I am, that is a disaster. And so we have to understand why, we say inflation is coming down, but for people seeing those sticker-shock moments, it doesn’t feel that way.”
Yes, as we all know, inflation has been a big problem over the past couple years. And because Democrats helped rescue Trump’s cratered economy during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting families with necessary cash aid, when pandemic-era restrictions ended and the economy started getting back to normal, all that cash started chasing limited goods that, in turn, had become scarcer because of supply chain disruptions.
This resulted in sharp spikes in inflation—across the globe. Though, notably, inflation has come down much further and faster in the U.S. than in most other countries. Thanks, Biden!
But did Brooks apologize for being a prominent, well-paid columnist who essentially lies about the economy (and owner-operated restaurants) when it suits his preferred narrative? Of course not! He said he was “insensitive”—and for even that, he didn’t apologize. As if that’s what people actually cared about.
As The Daily Beast noted in 2021, ”conservative comedy’s just stuff your drunk aunt yells at a wedding.” And yet it appears Brooks has glommed on to Republicans’ go-to “I was joking” excuse, even though science has yet to discover a funny GOP joke, despite having poured more resources into the pursuit than the search for the Higgs boson.
Um, did Brooks ever think he’d make a half-baked observation about his pre-flight feast and be forced to walk it back two days later on … PBS?
Meanwhile, some Xwitter wags picked up on Brooks’ acknowledgment that he probably shouldn’t be tweeting at all:
It’s really something when conservatives, who spend every waking moment thinking of ways to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable, suddenly decide they care about poor people. Which they do, of course—when they can use them to damage a Democratic president who, again, cut child poverty in half before Republicans abruptly put an end to it.
The entire PBS “NewsHour” broadcast is available here, in case you need to see Brooks put on his clown makeup before launching into his non-pology. Or you could down three bourbon doubles and berate a college student with three part-time jobs for ordering avocado toast at a Starbucks.
Brooks would no doubt be proud of you either way.
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