Sunday, March 28, 2004
A very sharp critique and “deconstruction” of the execrable libel/slander/bullshit produced by Coprophagiac of the Century David Brooks.
A shrewd point made here by writer Sasha Issenberg is that, where the best sociological journalists of the past half-century like William Whyte or Tom Wolfe backed up incisive commentary with copious research and actual journalistic rigor, David Brooks just sits around and makes stuff up.
Brooks is operating in a long tradition of public intellectualism. Like William Whyte, another child of Philadelphia's western suburbs fascinated with the interplay of money and manners among his contemporaries, Brooks is a journalist who works on sociological turf. But Whyte, who was an editor for Fortune in the 1950s, observed how people lived, inferred trends, considered what they meant, and then came up with grand conclusions about the direction of the country. When, in 1954, he wanted to find out which consumers were trend-setters, he went into Overbrook Park and surveyed 4,948 homes -- all inhabited by real people. Brooks, by way of contrast, draws caricatures. Whether out of sloppiness or laziness, the examples he conjures to illustrate well-founded premises are often unfounded, undermining the very points he's trying to make.Writer Issenberg goes of her way to make a phone call and actually do some journalistic work for her piece (something that David Brooks does not do). She speaks with Brooks:
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.
Shorter David Brooks:
I am a more effective partisan when deploring partisanship.
Please (oh God please!) don't read Clarke's book and come to your own conclusions.
All of this criticism, analysis, and discussion of policy is diverting us from thinking critically and analytically about policy.
Not to mention the outright lie about tripling the CIA anti-Qaeda budget.
Christ, even the WSJ did a piece about the Bush team's fuck-ups. Wouldn't that mean Brooks would have a hard time not getting laughed out of the country club locker room? How does he look himself in the mirror? How do I look myself in the mirror for not having slain him already?
By the way, the Ratnesar article that he mentions is total fucking garbage. Instead of Ratnesar "found" he should've said Ratnesar "opined" or maybe "nitpicked" or "hairsplit" or "flatulated".
Dawkins remarked that Brooks' main rhetorical pony trick is to feign Olympian detachment and objectivity while making heavily partisan attacks. Notice the use of "found" as though it were some sort of logically rigorous scientific conclusion. A "finding" no less! A man of quality and judgment has made a decision! Listen up proles!
Or a few weeks ago he began with a pithy observation about how "we" love to nominate bluebloods such as Bush and Kerry for high office, and then proceeded to slam only Kerry's pedigree and tastes for the rest of the piece. The broader pseudo-universal tone of his cultural observation lost in the din of the hatchet job.
Conversely he also makes a weak attempt to appeal to the readers vanity by insinuating that if reader disagrees Brooks will look down on him from the heights of his synoptic cultural critic aerie and find him entirely too pedestrian for words. Or perhaps its an invitation to join him in elegant repose as he takes in the all-too-human scene. To insist on the facts and fight on a side is so...gauche. But true to form the little burgher lurks in even Brooks' aristo-poseur heart and so instead of actually evaluating anything he snipes hypocritically. Is there a technical term for that sort of dissembling? Or is it just called pretentious bullshit?
One more thing: notice the preposterousness of Brooks chiding "us" by which I think he is actually referring to "the media", although he seems to think he's referring to everyone, for not paying attention to the "bi-partisan failures and systematic shortcomings". Does he really want to talk about systematic shortcomings? Like an oil-driven economy that forces us to be militarily involved in a political nightmare of a region? Or a political class that is so besotted with corporate money that it has almost ceased to function entirely toward any genuinely civic end? Or how about the handful of conglomerates that own the media and systematically prevent and undermine useful public discussion because it doesn't sell product? Does Brooks really want to make a "systematic" critique of a system in which it is a good business decision to put a third rate hack critic on the opinion page of the paper of record so that he can pimp himself for plundercrats? If it weren't for bi-partisan failures and systematic shortcomings he wouldn't have a career.