Yes, David Brooks, You Are the "Bad Guys"
But it's not entirely your fault...
Dear Mr. Brooks,
Your column might be the best thing written in the New York Times in the past seven years. You’ve undoubtedly been subjected to a fair amount of abuse for it. You should probably never have written it if the comments are any indication. But those are people in the bubble. They don’t represent either the majority or the future. They think they do, but they don’t.
Your question, “Are we the bad guys”? The answer is yes. You are the bad guys. You have systematically dehumanized half the country because they dared to want to be represented by someone you don’t like. You have gone along with a warped distortion of who Donald Trump actually is, and you have perpetuated that lie to your own detriment.
Oh, it’s much worse than that, Mr. Brooks. Are you sitting down? This is the moment just before the aristocracy you write so eloquently about comes crashing down around you. You might say you have just spotted the iceberg on the horizon. The water is too still. The ship is moving too fast. It can’t be turned around in time. The ship is made of iron, and it will sink.
Like so many times before, an aristocratic minority can only stave off its ultimate collapse at the hands of the discontented majority for so long. Just look around at the abandoned mansions of the Gilded Age, a world that once was. Or take a trip to France and look at the chateaus in the countryside, or you might even look around in the American South at the plantations and high society before it was all Gone with the Wind.
I’m not necessarily saying the red states are going to drag America back in time - that’s your narrative and the false opinion of the ruling class. This is about a new America waiting to be born once the establishment elite gets out of the way.
You do get points for noticing, Mr. Brooks, even if it is too little, too late. You write:
Are Trump supporters right that the indictments are just a political witch hunt? Of course not. As a card-carrying member of my class, I still basically trust the legal system and the neutral arbiters of justice. Trump is a monster in the way we’ve all been saying for years and deserves to go to prison.
Neutral arbiters of justice? Did you really just write that with a straight face, Mr. Brooks? Do you really believe that? Yet here we have proof enough that you can’t be the good guys if you can’t even see that these investigations and indictments are designed only to stop Trump. Biden has said as much.
No news on Joe Biden’s blatant corruption with his son, potentially protecting oligarchs from sanctions, influence peddling? And a DOJ that pivots to another Trump indictment every time there is bad news for Biden? Neutral? I don’t think so.
Surely you’re not suggesting that, because you believe Trump is a “monster” that he deserves to “go to prison” without any trial? Is that what we call innocent until proven guilty, Mr. Brooks? Or is that what we call trial by mob? Tell me, what books have you read that paint yourselves as the good guys? Trump was never revealed to be the “monster” you promised. In fact, quite the opposite.
He could have, as a fascist, shot protesters on the street in the Summer of 2020 oh wait, Biden did that when the Capitol police shot Ashli Babbitt. He could have jailed protesters, throwing them in solitary without a trial, convicting them in the court of public opinion as “white supremacists,” oh wait, Biden did that too.
Censor social media outlets (oh, oops, Biden too), weaponize the DOJ (oh, darn it, Biden again), edge us closer to Nuclear war (D’OH also Biden), and attempt to jail his political opponents to hold onto power for the foreseeable future (YA, that’s actually Biden). Darnit. Will the real fascist please stand up?
Trump might aspire to be an authoritarian but never had the necessary institutional support. He had just the opposite - every institution was at war with Trump every day of his presidency. I expect you’re educated enough to know that fascists require an alignment of power across all corporate, cultural, and political life — kind of like the Democrats, Mr. Brooks. Are you sure you have the right fascist? Or Tyrant or authoritarian or monster?
For those who now say, “he led an armed insurrection to overthrow the US Government and install a white supremacist army to kill all the Black and Brown people,” or anything related to January 6th, I call bullshit. The Trump emergency happened long before 2020, as any honest person knows.
Steve Bannon accurately predicted in 2017 that the Democrats would take the House in 2018 and immediately impeach Trump. It didn’t even matter what it was for. Everything our FBI and the Democrats, along with you Never Trump Republicans, did to reject the duly elected President of the United States was unprecedented and evidence of an elite ruling class that does not want to give up its power to the people.
I could spend a few paragraphs on January 6th, as I bore witness to a fake media narrative blooming out of the events that day, just as I could spend an equal amount of time talking about the violent protests in the Summer of 2020 that the media all but ignored, but instead, let’s stay focused on the task at hand - are you the good guys or are you the bad guys?
I know you are a Never Trumper, who has counted on the ratf*ckers like Rick Wilson and the Lincoln Project, or the high-minded intellectuals at the Bulwark, or the pretentious ramblings of a Joe Scarborough — it feels so good, doesn’t it, to have the affections of high society finally? To be let into the club and on the A-list now? Yeah, I bet it does. To quote Bob Dylan, I used to be among the crowd you’re in with.
I’ve only recently gotten to know the Conservatives such as yourself. I am a lifelong Democrat who voted for every Democrat that ever ran for president starting in the 1980s. I was a prominent Hillary Clinton supporter. I marched, I protested, and I wrote op-eds. I said Me Too. I supported and voted for Joe Biden. And yes, I wrote about race and gender for years on my website. Yeah, I was that guy (girl).
It would take me a while to realize you were all wrong about Trump. First, I had to find out all of these years later that your paper of record was not telling me the truth, which I did in June of 2020 when the New York Times upended itself over the Tom Cotton essay, then threw two of its editors under the bus.
That moment was, for me, like the lantern dropping out of the sky in The Truman Show.
My whole world changed. But it was hard to explain it to my friends and family. I would say things to them like, “I can’t explain it to you because you’re in the bubble.” And they would look at me like I was insane.
All that really meant is that they still trusted the New York Times. They still trusted you, Mr. Brooks. But little by little, people like me are escaping the bubble and discovering a whole wide world of freedom outside of it - freedom of the mind, most especially. Imagine, not having to fret every word that comes out of your mouth. Imagine people seeing each other as people and not as partisans in an imaginary war, not as “white supremacists” or divided by race or gender.
If the Tom Cotton debacle wasn’t bad enough, the Times sunk itself even further into the morass when it demonized and chased out respectable COVID reporter Donald McNeil after some entitled brat tattled on him that he’d used the “n-word” on a field trip. Oh, he must be a RACIST, concluded the gaggle of gossips and pearl-clutching wokesters in the newsroom.
Are you the good guys, or are you the bad guys for allowing lunatics to take over the asylum? For bringing on board uptight thought police to bully your journalists for trying to tell the truth. Most of that is not your fault, but since you stay at the paper and say nothing, you are complicit. You’re building a rat ship, as Al Pacino once opined in Scent of a Woman.
I like to think I would have resigned in protest and in support of James Bennett, Bari Weiss, and Donald McNeil. But I know it’s hard out there for a propaganda pusher, I mean a journalist, so I don’t blame you for keeping your job and staying quiet.
That intense focus on race and racism pushed and adopted by the Times, has had a catastrophic effect on the news business and American culture writ large, but especially so in the Trump era. A revolution of devout woketopians crashing up against Trump, a guy who will say anything he feels like saying, did this to the NY Times:
This is the ticket to ride at the Times now, Mr. Brooks. You are trapped in a hell of your own making by now. Look at the “Reader’s Picks” comments. It is hard to resist a comment that has 7,000 plus upvotes telling you to abandon your humanity and continue the ongoing dehumanization of half the country.
Why can’t they, or you, trust the voters? Why can’t you find better candidates and better policies? Why can’t you allow an outsider to shake things up in a people-run government? Moreover, who gave you permission to claim this country for yourselves and decide for American voters what they should want? That is not how things are supposed to work in this country.
You’ve all been treating Trump like an elusive mob boss who engaged in dirty dealings, drug smuggling, prostitution, bribery, and even murder, which justified taking extraordinary measures against him to put him in prison finally. But the evidence at hand does not bear this out. He’s a rule-breaker by nature, he always has been. He likes to upset people. He likes to antagonize, tease, and sometimes bully, but we can’t even get to Turmp’s real problems because of your tsunami of hyperbole.
The so-called charges against Trump will look ridiculous in time, just like the perjury charge against Bill Clinton does. By now, you all should be sued for wasting our time and money policing a president who had the nerve to win an election and offend the ruling elite. And then had the nerve to protest the most corrupt election in my lifetime. But again, we won’t go into that.
These charges show pencil-pusher detailing that doesn’t amount to anything serious enough to meddle in yet another election, and nothing more serious than what Joe Biden is alleged to have done — no one at your paper would put together the billions being sent to Ukraine with Joe Biden and Hunter Biden’s payoffs, just like you’ll never tell the truth about the FBI’s involvement in January 6th, but sooner or later, someone will.
I know you probably don’t really care what the majority of Republicans think of you. But still, it has to be a bit of a drag that the “paper of record” is now on par with MSNBC in the minds of the public, per this poll:
When I headed over to Trump World and watched his rallies, I did not see a racist or a bigot. I didn’t see a frothing-at-the-mouth Hitler-esque tyrant. And I couldn’t lie about that anymore.
This isn’t about telling you to support Trump or that I will even vote for him. It’s hard to talk about anything else because of YOUR obsession, not ours. He has to dominate the news because it drives traffic on your site and ratings on cable news and because God forbid any of you will actually report on the Biden administration’s obvious failings.
Some people got it long before I ever did, like David Horowitz, a former lefty, who wrote a brilliant book on the 2020 election and January 6th called Final Battle. His introduction goes like this:
“Trump’s final seventeen hours of campaigning had included more than 3,000 miles of flights and motorcades, 367 minutes of rallies, and—in the words of one Wall Street Journal reporter, “five awkward and hilarious stage dances to [the popular song] ‘YMCA.’”A Trump rally was always an entertainment.”
At one point in the evening, the crowd became so ardent—as similar rallies had before—that it began to chant “We love you!” and did so over and over, until Trump responded: “Thank you. Don’t say that. I’ll start to cry and that wouldn’t be good for my image.” It was an uncharacteristically emotional moment, displaying a self-awareness and even self-deprecation, that went generally unacknowledged by Trump’s legion of haters.”
The same rally was referenced by Tucker Carlson, who has now been fired by Fox News to protect the delicate ruling elites from hard truths they studiously avoid. Carlson wrote this before the 2020 election.
And that was really it for me. The journalists, so many people I knew and in the highest reaches of culture and power, had the story completely wrong. They didn’t know Trump at all and had no clue why so many people supported him. All they could do was spin around, wondering how could anyone like and vote for a MONSTER like Trump?
Calling them all racists led to real-world violence, as in this rarely covered event from back in 2015:
But Trump makes them feel seen, in the parlance of the Left. The people most of you through away like human garbage had one guy with balls of steel taking on the entire machine. If you don’t think most people are rooting for Trump to skate these charges, then you aren’t paying attention.
Oh sure, the Beckys and the Karens are waiting for their money shot, but most people can’t help but root for the underdog. Sorry, folks. You’ll have to confront the lies you’ve been selling for years because the people are way ahead of you.
Lastly, you write:
But there’s a larger context here. As the sociologist E. Digby Baltzell wrote decades ago, “History is a graveyard of classes which have preferred caste privileges to leadership.” That is the destiny our class is now flirting with. We can condemn the Trumpian populists until the cows come home, but the real question is: When will we stop behaving in ways that make Trumpism inevitable?
The answer, Mr. Brooks, is never. As with most aristocracies, power must be taken from you. No, not with a violent revolution, but when the American people realize what I finally did — that they can no longer trust the media, and that the media have become the bad guys. When that happens, it’s all over but the shouting.