In a social media post that would prove (ironically) costly, the conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks complained about the price of food at Newark airport in New Jersey.
“This meal just cost me $78,” Brooks wrote, adding: “This is why Americans think the economy is terrible.”
Large percentages of Americans do think the economy is terrible. Unfortunately for Brooks, a conservative whose books include The Road to Character and The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, large numbers of his followers on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, decided to look into his complaint.
More unfortunately still, among those followers lurked plenty of journalists, some of them investigative reporters. Many noted the presence in Brooks’s post, alongside burger, fries, salad and sachets of ketchup, of a glass (or two) of whiskey – a drink ever likely to push up a tab.
Kurt Eichenwald, senior investigative reporter for the Conversation, wrote: “That same meal at Newark airport cost me just over $17 (Smokehouse Restaurant, right?).
Jacob Bacharach, a novelist and critic, wrote: “A typical airport burger and fries is in the $18 range; a typical double … whiskey rocks is in the $20 range. Solve for x: 18+20x=78.”
Even the restaurant commented.
“Looks like someone was knocking back some serious drinks,” 1911 Smoke House Barbeque wrote on Facebook. “Bar tab was almost 80% and he’s complaining about the cost of his meal.”
With a distinctly Jersey touch, it added: “Keep drinking, buddy – we get paid off everything.”
Comedians joined in the roast. Jay Black said: “Just *imagine* what David Brooks’ phone is gonna do when his plane lands and he turns it back on.”
Brooks posted his complaint on Wednesday. As of Friday morning, he had not posted again.
Polling shows most Americans do not think the economy is in good shape. Last week, reporting an exclusive Harris poll, the Guardian said: “The US has roared back from the Covid recession by official measures.
“But two-thirds of Americans are unhappy about the economy despite consistent reports that inflation is easing and unemployment is close to a 50-year low. And the poll suggests many are unaware of or don’t believe the positive economic news the government has reported.”
Regardless, investigation of Brooks’s claim turned to delighted satire.
Bacharach wrote Brooks a sonnet: “[E]ven in New Jersey, one must scrounge / and scrape a scotch while waiting for a status bump / to first-select. This is what got us Trump.”
Black said: “It’s true, you guys. My family has had to cut back to only eating at airport restaurants four nights a week. THANKS JOE BIDEN!”