David Brooks: Hoisted from the Archives from Nine Years Ago

Ben: Unfogged: "Since people are talking about David Brooks...

...and his obsession with 'values' and 'meaning' and whatnot, let's all pause to recall that he's a shameless liar and fantasist who doesn't even have the grace to acknowledge it when he's caught. (I mean, in addition to the fact that he has the intelligence of a sea slug and the moral sophistication of a stoat.)

Sasha Issenberg: [Boo-Boos in Paradise(http://www.phillymag.com/articles/booboos-in-paradise/): "I called Brooks to see if I was misreading his work...

...I told him about my trip to Franklin County, and the ease with which I was able to spend $20 on a meal. He laughed. 'I didn't see it when I was there, but it's true, you can get a nice meal at the Mercersburg Inn,' he said. I said it was just as easy at Red Lobster. 'That was partially to make a point that if Red Lobster is your upper end ... ' he replied, his voice trailing away. 'That was partially tongue-in-cheek, but I did have several mini-dinners there, and I never topped $20.'

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.

Satire has its purpose, but assuming it's on the mark, Brooks should be able to adduce real-world examples that are true. I asked him how I was supposed to tell what was comedy and what was sociology. 'Generally, I rely on intelligent readers to know -- and I think that at the Atlantic Monthly, every intelligent reader can tell what the difference is,' he replied. 'I tried to describe the mainstream of Montgomery County and the mainstream of Franklin County. They're both diverse places, and any generalization is going to have exceptions. But I was trying to capture the difference between the two places,' he said. 'You've obviously come at this from a perspective. I don't think if you went to the two places you wouldn't detect a cultural difference.'

I asked him about Blue America as a bastion of illegal immigrants. 'This is dishonest research. You're not approaching the piece in the spirit of an honest reporter,' he said. 'Is this how you're going to start your career? I mean, really, doing this sort of piece? I used to do 'em, I know 'em, how one starts, but it's just something you'll mature beyond.'

This came out in 2006, and somehow did not lead to Brooks' firing.