Nov
02
2012

Politico Makes You Glad Election Is Almost Over

Nate Silver

The gossipy, horse race-obsessed outlet Politico ran a story on October 29 about the credibility of polling expert Nate Silver, whose 538 blog at the New York Times is a must-read for people interested in election forecasting. What Silver does isn't, on one level, all that tricky–his model combines national and state polls and generates probabilities about election outcomes. This model finds it highly likely that Barack Obama will win the election. It's probability, not a crystal ball or a bet. Politico's Dylan Byers notes that Silver's model says this "even as the polls have [Romney] almost neck-and-neck with the incumbent." […]

Feb
10
2012

The Way to Voters' Hearts Is Proposing What They Don't Want

You often see pundits making suggestions to political candidates like David Brooks makes in his New York Times column today (1/10/12): If Romney is to thrive, he really needs to go on an integrity tour. He needs to show how his outer pronouncements flow directly from his inner core. He needs to trust that voters will take him as he really is…. He needs to stop opportunistically backtracking on his Medicare position, just to please whatever senior group he happens to be in front of. He needs to show that he is willing to pursue at least a few unpopular […]

Feb
02
2012

'Bard of the 1 Percent' Sings the Same Tune

New York Times columnist David Brooks, who's been called the "bard of the 1 percent" for his writings in defense of the economic elite, is at it again–telling people not to worry about the concentration of wealth at the very top of the income scale. Brooks writes in his January 31 column that the claim that "America is threatened by the financial elite, who hog society's resources" is a "distraction." Brooks argues: The real social gap is between the top 20 percent and the lower 30 percent. The liberal members of the upper tribe latch onto this top 1 percent […]

Oct
11
2011

David Brooks Gets Occupy Wall Street and Al-Qaeda in Same Sentence

New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a tedious column today (10/11/11) about how the real radicals are the centrists, not the Wall Street occupiers. (Read Dean Baker to see what Brooks is getting wrong.) But this jumped out at me: A third believe the U.S. is no better than Al-Qaeda, according to a New York magazine survey. How would someone "survey" a leaderless, ever-shifting mass of protesters? I am not sure, and it's not really what New York did. They asked a series of questions–some of them obviously cheeky–to 100 activists at Liberty Plaza. As you can see: Rank […]

Jun
15
2011

Tea Party: Anti-Corporate Corruption Fighters?

Some in the press still seem to have trouble defining whatever it is that motivates the Tea Party movement. I noticed this in an L.A. Times piece last week (6/5/11): Americans possess a long-standing wariness of power and its potential as a corrupting influence, especially in the hands of large institutions. That instinct bred our government system of checks and balances and, more recently, led members of the "tea party" to embrace the nation's founders (repackaged as a band of small-government crusaders) as the guiding lights of their movement. So "wariness of power" and the "corrupting influence" of "large institutions" […]

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

Jared Loughner

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 […]