Early Morning Open Thread: I Don’t Know How She Does It

Gail Collins is a much stronger woman than I am, because I’d have strangled David Brooks years ago:

Will Journalism Go the Way of Whaling?

David: … Now I feel, or maybe it’s hope, that we’ve reached equilibrium. Blogging is real, but not hegemonic. YouTube is interesting for people who enjoy watching 54,000 versions of the Harlem Shake. College students these days seem to spend little time on blogs and not much on Twitter, but a lot of time on Facebook or at least on Instagram. And lo and behold recognizable newspaper journalism is still standing, benefitting from a popular flight to quality.

Do you share my sanguine view that we’ve reached a survivable equilibrium?

Gail: I’ve always had faith that the great national newspapers would survive in some form. But to tell the truth, I’ve been feeling grimmer and grimmer about local reporting. Candidates for the House and even the Senate campaign with very little coverage. Press rooms in state capitols look like they’ve been evacuated. And I don’t know what happens to national politics when the feeder system is covered mainly by right- and left-wing bloggers.

David: Good point. I used to tell young journalists to start out writing crime stories somewhere. Now I tell them to produce Web pages that link and comment on the best pieces in the national press. The big editors will look to your site if you write obsessively about them. Eventually they’ll hire you.

Gail: That’s a good career strategy, I suppose. Instead of covering the news, you cover the people covering the news.

Thing is, even if Brooks understood the meaning of the phrase “backhanded compliment”, he’d never be able to understand why anyone might object to being called a careerist and a courtier. After all, he’s the one who’s got a mansion with vast spaces for entertaining, not to mention a plum CV-building Yale gig teaching… humility.

But then, Gail Collins probably never spent an entire dinner party with a Senator’s hand on her upper thigh, either. No sweets without sweat, as my Irish granny used to say.

56 replies
  1. 1
    WereBear says:

    Gail Collins is a much stronger woman than I am, because I’d have strangled David Brooks years ago:

    It’s not too late.

  2. 2
    Schlemizel says:

    Worse still is that many people are following Bobo’s advice & not learning how to dig for news. As it is now a lot of city and state governments are doing a lot of stupid things because nobody is actually watching them. Morons are increasingly being successful in running for office because there are no real reporters digging into their background or their BS.

    As much as the gun nuts love to think its the second amendment that secures our freedom its really the first. But we are pissing away the value of a free press for a buck for the owners and a bit of entertainment for the rest of us

  3. 3
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Sorry about the big, fat, clammy hand. :-)

    The discussion, of course, wasn’t about how to commit journalism. The topic was how to maintain a source of monetary income.

    They weren’t aspiring to rise to the level of Persiankiwi or Daniel Pearl.

  4. 4
    NotMax says:

    Brooks has never come upon an idea he couldn’t sidestep, but I have never understood the apparently obligatory slam on his big house. Criticize his output, not his address.

    It’s an unbecoming batting of very, very green eyes. Really, who cares?

  5. 5
    WereBear says:

    @NotMax: Brooks’ house is pertinent because he’s a principleless slime mold of a human being who brings no value to the table, but it is rewarded by society far more than say… me.

    Even if I had contributed nothing to society but a few pints of plasma, that’s more good than Brooks has done; and he has contributed far more harm.

    I don’t envy him his house; I think it’s reeking of parvenu clawing. I don’t envy him at all. It’s simply that his status is a highly ironic comment on his worth.

  6. 6
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Oh. I was mistaken. The person who dealt with the hand was Brooks.

  7. 7
    amk says:

    @NotMax: It’s his crappy and useless output that brought him that address. Seriously, you think most-of-the-time-wrong pundtwits deserve the kinda pay that enables that kinda address? In any other field of employment, punks like him would be on the unemployment lines after the first fuck-up.

  8. 8
    raven says:

    Bob’s butt boy Mornin Joe is just all lit up about the THREAT from the White House.

  9. 9
    WereBear says:

    Is Brooks the one who married a real estate heiress? I actually googled his name but could not find out.

    In any case, he’s an astounding boring writer. Like Friedman, I can’t get very far into his stuff without screaming and throwing the book across the room (which shows you how long ago it was.)

  10. 10
    raven says:

    Oh boy Halperin points out that the previous administration did it too. Now Joe is explaining that Bush did it to HIM!

  11. 11
    raven says:

    @WereBear: Friedman.

  12. 12
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @raven: It’s pretty bad when Willie is the voice of reason.

  13. 13
    raven says:

    I’m sorry, I know this thread is supposed to be about Brooks but this shit on Scarborough is insane. Fucking Jim Cramer is droning on about how great Woodward is and how maybe the White House never heard of Watergate. Un Fucing Real

  14. 14
    Donut says:

    Gail: That’s a good career strategy, I suppose. Instead of covering the news, you cover the people covering the news.

    There is a prime example of national “news” personalities covering people covering the news right now on Morning Joe. The entire round table is freaking out over the Woodward/White House spat, as if anybody with a fucking brain gives a shit about Woodward. This is some of the dumbest shit I have seen in a long time.

  15. 15
    raven says:

    “They’ve always been very gracious to me”

  16. 16
    geg6 says:

    How can you people watch Squint first thing in the morning? Or for that matter, at any time of day? Jeebus, I’d blow my brains out if I did that.

    Anyway, I’m totally enjoying the Woodward meltdown and I’m hoping against hope that Sperling has Brooks up next in his crosshairs. Gene Sperling, enforcer for the soshulist Muslim mafia!

  17. 17
    WereBear says:

    @raven: Ah, thanks. A synapse was obviously firing, but I didn’t get the correct connection.

  18. 18
    amk says:

    @raven: These blowhards are full of spittle & splutter since they know the kenyan muslin just doesn’t give a shite about any of them and they can do jacksquat about it. I love it that a bold dem admin is yanking their collective chains and hanging them out to dry.

  19. 19
    PeakVT says:

    @WereBear: Friedman married a woman from the family that owned General Growth Properties, which was worth several billion in the mid 2000s, but it went bankrupt in 2009. But don’t worry, the family managed to extract considerable wealth before the collapse.

  20. 20
    raven says:

    This is pretty good actually, Mika is freaking out that it’s a THREAT and the dude from Politco (and Joe) are laughing it off as SOP.

    eta It’s funny to see him rant and get her all upset and then basically say it’s all bullshit while she shakes her head.

  21. 21
    Elizabelle says:


    I am watching this Morning Joe FoolFest, featuring Politico, and wondering if I get to cancel my Washington Post subscription to protest Woodward’s idiotic claims.

    Think about it: the root of this squabble is Woodward attempting to pin the sequester on the White House, isn’t it?

    Is Woodward losing his shit because his Republican sources (and preferred masters) are taking fall after fall, and the public has noticed and is laughing at them?

  22. 22
    raven says:

    @Elizabelle: It’s about who came up with this idea. If course, it doesn’t mean one damn thing WHO came up with it but so what?

  23. 23
    Baud says:


    This. From the lowest teabagger to the Village idiots to the Supreme Court, they are losing their collective shit.

  24. 24
    WereBear says:

    @raven: What you describe is a particularly noxious pattern from abusive people; the false show of distress or anger that gets laughed off once they “get a rise” from someone so vulnerable.

    They train the victim to shrug off their feelings so they can then turn around and scream indignation when it happens.

    Just another reason to loathe Scarborough. One of my treasured memories is how MSNBC used to follow one of Olbermann’s Special Comments with a show transition cut to Joe Scar, looking like someone had just hit him on the head with a shovel.

    Good times.

  25. 25
    Elizabelle says:

    Speaking of journalists married to heiresses:

    Michael Barone was married to Joan Shorenstein, daughter of Walter Shorenstein, billionaire San Francisco real estate developer and investor.

    Joan herself was a journalist, first at the WaPost, and then as a topflight producer at CBS. She died of cancer at age 38; her parents donated $10 million to help establish the Joan Shorenstein Center at Harvard; deals with politics and the media.

    Michael Barone supported George McGovern in 1972, but has made a long sweep into conservative Republican politics. He’s a pundit on Fox, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and writes for the rightwing Washington Examiner. Wingnut welfare trifecta!

    He predicted a massive win for Mitt Romney.

  26. 26

    I used to tell young journalists to start out writing crime stories somewhere. Now I tell them to produce Web pages that link and comment on the best pieces in the national press.

    Pray tell, Bobo, what IS the difference between writing crime stories and reporting on the Village? Most of the stuff you guys write is criminally stupid.

  27. 27
    raven says:

    @WereBear: “someone so vulnerable” Please.

  28. 28
    JPL says:

    @raven: My thanks to you and others about the Morning Joe program. Since I didn’t know that Woodward was shaking in his boots cuz Gene Sperling threatened him, I was able to find out more info.
    Gene Sperling is welcome to visit me anytime he wants.

  29. 29
    Chyron HR says:

    YouTube The New York Times is interesting for people who enjoy watching 54,000 versions of the Harlem Shake Republican Reach-Around.

  30. 30
    Jamey says:

    @Donut: Gail just gave Brooksy the idea for teh POLITICO. Let’s see if he runs with it.

  31. 31
    YellowDog says:

    It’s been a winning strategy for Brooks. That’s how he discovered the Applebee’s salad bar without leaving his home office.

    I wonder to what extent the death of local reporting, combined with news aggregation and the consolidation of newspapers under fewer and fewer parent companies, has contributed to the rise of the extreme Tea Party types.

  32. 32
    cmorenc says:

    Speaking of conservative pundits whom the NYT has given a perch from which to spew “balance” on its editorial pages, I haven’t seen Chunky Bobo aka Ross Douthat’s column in there for awhile (but then again, I only get to read the NYT about 3x per week). NOT that I’m pining away for his prudishly puckered-asshole brand of conservative wisdom by which e.g. no one should get laid before marriage etc. But where is he? Ok, so maybe I’d be better off not wondering, and simply enjoy his absence lately (or perhaps the illusion thereof) from the NYT.

  33. 33
    Mike E says:

    @raven: It’s called hazing. The Press Corpse is one big fraternity, amirite? Tho, it is a bit gauche to tweak the help so publicly…

  34. 34
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    I could name 100 journalists who do better work – real journalism – than David Brooks, who’ve never had A byline in the NYT, much less a weekly fucking column. For him to give anyone advice on how to do journalism is beyond irony.

  35. 35
    Elizabelle says:


    That’s a very good question re consolidation of media. And the teatards are out there fomenting against any revenue increases for the public good (even the idea of a public good), or any government intervention on individuals or business.

    How convenient for media and corporate megabarons.

  36. 36
    Mike E says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur: Gawd, my sis expressed admiration for Bobo in my presence, so I opened the local rag to the op/ed section where his column sat just above one by Richard Cohen and I said to her, “I want to beat this guy to death with that guy’s body.” To subtle?

  37. 37
    NotMax says:


    Then target opprobrium at those who provided him the means to obtain it, not against him for using the lucre to buy it.

    Still think it is a distraction and lessens the strength of argumentation, equally as ludicrous as Brooks own use of Applebee’s salad bar as some kind of strained stand-in for the agora.

  38. 38
    NotMax says:


    Then target opprobrium at those who provided him the means to obtain it, not against him for using the lucre to buy it.

    Still think it is a distraction and lessens the strength of argumentation, equally as ludicrous as Brooks own use of Applebee’s salad bar as some kind of strained stand-in for the agora.

  39. 39
    Elizabelle says:

    Morning Joe rebroadcast clip on Lindsey Graham at yesterday’s assault weapons ban hearing.

    Graham is seriously losing it. He’s all rightwing bluster all the time, in an attempt to keep his Senate seat next year. It’s laughable that Dianne Feinstein had to remind him he just got honored with a “civility” award.

    Maybe someone will write a play about him some day. He didn’t learn the lesson that there are some things worse than losing a Senate seat.

    Anyhoo, Graham is exhibit A of fear of a Tea Party challenge, and think on how big money astroturfed the Tea Party.

    And then big media refused to recognize the Tea Party as the mouth-breathing John Bircher contingent grown large that it is. Wanted to say it was something new, fresh, sprung from irrepressible American spirit.

    This did not have to happen.

  40. 40
    Elizabelle says:


    For [David Brooks] to give anyone advice on how to do journalism is beyond irony.

    And to give that advice in between teaching classes on “Humility” at Yale.

  41. 41


    When it comes to humility, I’m the greatest.
    — Bullwinkle Moose

  42. 42
    handsmile says:

    Adding to raven’s observations above about how the Morning Joe frat party was all aglow defending the sheer awesomeness of Bob Woodward, CNN’s “Starting Point” was no less eager to sing his praises.

    Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent for the New Yorker, said he “worshipped Bob Woodward.” Matt Miller of Kaplan Test Prep Daily described his colleague as “great…the best reporter in Washington,” and given his peerless reputation, “why would he get his facts wrong on what the White House said to him?” Host Soledad O’Brien agreed how very troubling it was that the White House was “threatening reporters.” (To be fair, O’Brien did read the actual text from Sperling’s email to make clear the context of this “threat.”)

    I was assured by quite a few commenters here yesterday that Woodward is now irrelevant, how “no one under 50 reads him or knows who he is.” Well, MSNBC and CNN this morning, including prominent journalists well under 50, surely demonstrated how utterly wrong such opinions are.

    We all may think Bob Woodward is a hack, but he’s King of the Hacks, the most beloved member of the Village media. To imagine that he does not still wield immense influence and power there (and thus in shaping the national political discourse) is simply ridiculous.

  43. 43
    David in NY says:

    Maybe somebody said it, but Gail Collins worked her way up, and she knows those state capitol press rooms. She was, in a small way, New York’s Molly Ivins, covering the NY Legislature with appropriate derision. For the NY Daily News which used to excel at local coverage. Anybody know what Brooks has actually done?

  44. 44
    PeakVT says:

    @David in NY: Brooks has been a highly successful producer of bullshit since the early 1980s. He got his start at NR, apparently.

  45. 45
    different-church-lady says:

    Why would you want to strangle the best straight man you could have?

  46. 46
    Anya says:

    @handsmile: Did Soledad O’Brien and her guests explain how is this (see blockquote) a threat?

    “But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim,” Sperling added in the email.

    I was hoping that this little drama queen act will lose Bob Woodward all of the undeserved respect he’s still milking from his Watergate reporting, but I am afraid you might be right.

  47. 47
    gene108 says:

    I had a bit of a political conversation with my boss. He’s relatively apolitical, what he feels is good for his business he’ll get behind.

    He’s been drifting into Fox News viewership and recently read some article in Time about upward mobility in the U.S. being at an all time low. His take home message is government has gotten in the way of the people to move up.

    I just don’t have the patience to debate politics with people, so I didn’t get into a protracted argument.

    What I find interesting, though, is the cadre of relatively well educated people, who are still low information voters and who are easily persuaded by a group – like the right-wing media – beating the same message over and over again that than drifts up into the MSM and becomes conventional wisdom.

    The only way I can think to counter this is by liberals having message discipline and aggressively rally behind anything that advances the liberal agenda, rather than let the perfect be the enemy of the good and whine about short comings and compromises in legislation.

    I don’t think liberals, will get this message, even those with T.V. shows like Maddow, because there’s just some deep, deep liberal urge to be either stick out from the crowd and prove your contrarian bona fides or prove how smart you are by finding flaws in the “good” because it isn’t “perfect”.

    At some point, we will be our own worst enemy, because despite most of the country supporting liberal goals, we aren’t able to get the message out.

    All people here is “Obama’s as bad as Bush” or “Obamacare is bad” and then flip the channel.

    The only thing saving liberals is the utter and total incompetence of Republican governance at a national level.

  48. 48
    handsmile says:


    To her credit, as I noted, O’Brien did read part of that excerpt from Sperling’s email to Woodward which evinced that “you will regret…” meant “you will be embarrassed by your erroneous claim.”

    Nevertheless, after reading that out on air, O’Brien, her co-host news reader John Berman, and the two other Village reporters mentioned above, all laughed knowingly and mumbled phrases that they understood what such words really mean. Lizza, whose remarks especially disappointed me, went on to add how important is was for all journalists to “push back” on such aggressive White House tactics. “We’re being attacked all the time,” he bleated.

    Far from losing respect, now as a brave martyr to First Amendment Freedom!, King Bob will be a figure of even greater reverence in the Village.

  49. 49
    Linda says:

    @NotMax: I think what pisses people off about the big house (I know it does me), is that Brooks has carved out a career of defending the status quo as a meritocracy: if you live in a big house, you earned it. While his real life proves that this is the opposite. He is a millionaire because he strokes rich people for a living, and questions whether people who make real stuff–blue collar workers, for instance–aren’t getting poorer because they deserve it. He, in effect, has the same line of work as a corner hooker, with the added advantage of not having to take off his clothes or running the risk of an embarrassing illness.

  50. 50

    Deleted wrong thread.

  51. 51

    @Linda: I am sure most hookers are more principled than Bobo.

  52. 52
    General Stuck says:

    Fascinating study on genetic markers for mental illness.

  53. 53
    russell says:

    And I don’t know what happens to national politics when the feeder system is covered mainly by right- and left-wing bloggers.

    Income aside, can someone explain to me how Brooks is anything other than a right-wing blogger?

    What’s the difference between the NYT op-ed page and a Huffington Post column?

  54. 54
    geg6 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Definitely. So are most drug dealers.

  55. 55
    Pluky says:

    @WereBear: Friedman is the one married to a real estate heiress.

  56. 56
    NotMax says:


    Being pissed off about it is perfectly righteous.

    My attempted point is that using it as a cudgel of denigration strikes this codger as both trivial and sophomoric. Especially when there exist such lush pickings from the acres and acres of swill he produces expels.

    Is the abode perhaps hypocritical when weighed against his writings? Probably, but so what? Ostensibly he writes a column espousing opinion (wrong-headed, simplistic and trite as it may be), not philosophy. If he signed over the property to a worthy charitable cause tomorrow and moved into a cold-water flat, it wouldn’t change the all too valid criticism of his viewpoint and output a bit.

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