Babbling Brooks

The link in a previous post to the Philadelphia Magazine article factchecking David Brooks inspired writer Rick Perlstein (who is an acquaintance of mine) to send the following note to Daniel Okrent at the Times. Since it is unlikely to ever see print there, I thought I’d at least reproduce it here:

Dear Mr. Okrent:

I ask that you read through this entire article, “Boo Boos in
Paradise,” by Sasha Issenberg, in the April issue of Philadelphia
magazine. It’s actually a remarkable piece of journalism criticism:

The mistakes the author reveals in David Brooks’ (non-Times) articles
are bad enough. Worse, though, is Brooks’ reaction when caught. To

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.

Now, to be fair to Brooks, Issenberg doesn’t situate the context for
the “unethical” quote. I think it would be appropriate for you to ask
David Brooks to clarify exactly what this writer did that was
unethical. And, weighing that’ response in the balance with Brooks’
apparent defense of jokes as reportorial method, it would be salutary
if you could work through the puzzle of whether Brooks has a point, or
if he is just thrashing about trying to defend the indefensible.

The integrity of the Times would certainly appear to implicated in the

Yours most truly,

Rick Perlstein