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David Brooks, New York Times “conservative” columnist

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Jon Jost


Seoul, Korea


“The system will inflame your weaknesses (Kirk’s mistakes were serious and he has apologized for them).”

No, you will not be admitted into the system unless you have already demonstrated you have those weaknesses. Your list of Kirk’s past achievements is given as if it were a shiny accomplishment: but it is all dull establishment, where kissing ass, being a yes man and agreeing to a thoroughly already corrupted system is an absolute requirement. Nobody who has rebelled against the so-called consensus, say that we need a gigantic bloated military, ever gets in, and we do have a gigantic bloated and corrupt military. It is already clear that those who wrote glowingly of Kirk’s role are themselves the kind who would embellish their records, lie and commit fraud. That’s the rule of the game.

Grow up Mr Brooks, stick your head outside your establishment bubble and see that from outside you all appear to be corrupt. You too. Or maybe even especially.

Yesterday, early in line – comment sent after, to other columnist, was printed number 27 – I responded to the David Brooks item with the above. It wasn’t printed. Mr Brooks, again, brooks no dissent. While I am sure his most high eminance does not himself deign to read these things, it appears his hired underling at the Times is under instructions to not let certain things pass. I guess I crossed the line here. Curious, since others took him to task under similar lines, though none went quite so far as to say Mr Brooks is “corrupt.”

Mr Brooks, by himself and by many of his readers is painted as a wise, articulate, well-read “conservative” who often seems to be drifting towards, oh my god, some kind of “liberal” stances. He however always auto-corrects himself, and returns to his true Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, New Standard roots. A right-wing shill dresses in seeming “reasonableness.”

But it is a charade, and his censoring scissors, used not at all the first time for me, and I am sure for many others, shows his truer self.


  1. The phrase “kissing ass” was enough to disqualify your contribution. The language for the Times needs to be politic and formal, particularly for highly critical views. With a little reformulation, there’s nothing in your comment that wouldn’t be printed. They don’t really don’t give a shit (who the hell reads the stuff anyway–certainly not Brooks), as long as it’s polite.

    Some asshole functionary has been told to strike all profane comments, and will get fired if he or she fails to do so. It’s as simple as that.

    Take more care, and you’ll have a higher average.

  2. Jon,

    I usually concur with your NYT comments when they are published, and I like your blogs, from both citizen and artistic view. My comments, too, sometimes go unpublished by the NYT.

    Still, to play a devil’s advocate: have you never censored comments on your own blogs?

    Andrei Vorobiev

    • No, I never censor except for spam. I’m not a shill for Viagra etc! But if someone sends in something critical, fine, I print it.

      • Well, believe it or not, I once wrote a comment on your blog and got taken aback when it wasn’t actually posted by the moderator… No, it wasn’t on Viagra – my comment was backing you up that you’re not an anti-Semite as some baselessly accused you.

        Btw, good post on British budget woes (after Paul Krugman’s column.)

  3. Hmmm.. I admit I didn’t much follow the comments a while back, not out of laziness but because I didn’t understand how the WordPress system works. I guess that would make it out of stupidity! And sometimes I don’t notice and get back-logged. If you sent a comment maybe it’s still there. I don’t recall the exchange/incident. I’ll go look now if there’s some lingering comments I missed.

  4. I went back in my emails to when I think it was (June, some guy saying I was a Nazi) but I didn’t find a notice from WordPress or anything. Maybe I inadvertently deleted. If you happen to still have the comment sent it to me and post it.

    • Michael from Florida
    • Posted October 23, 2010 at 7:25 am
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    I thought it was just me that was being blackballed from certain columns, even when my contributions were relevant, on point, even erudite and certainly not impolite. Even Gail Collins and Krugman would shut me out. If, as joe doe suggests, the slightest trace of street vernacular can get one blocked, I guess that’s why Mr. Brooks didn’t print my essay on “friends” and the internet. I used the word “hell,” in reference to friends who would stick with you “come hell or high water.” I didn’t realise I was such a bad influence. BTW, nice interweb sites ya got. First time to visit them, even after reading your comments in the NYT for quite a while.

    • I’m not certain just how they “manage” these things, but there is clearly a pattern in some cases. Some people have written to dissuade me from thinking there is a deliberate censoring going on, but I can’t say I’m really fully convinced that’s so. For example, if I write on a Friedman column – a guy I rather loathe – it doesn’t seem to matter if I am, as usually I manage to be, one of the early filers, my item almost always gets shunted to #400 or so, or not printed at all. Same more or less with Brooks (whom I also find really obnoxious), though one is more likely to slip through on his. I do think either the flunky assigned to do the job takes it upon themself, or perhaps has been instructed by their boss – the given columnist – to intervene. However, taking on the Times is maybe a Sisyphean job! I wish I got paid what Brooks and Friedman get paid – I really do think they are both 3rd class “thinkers” and 5th rate moral persons: neither seems capable of owning up to ever being wrong. When they get caught red-handed they just scurry on to the next thing. And they are often very very wrong.

  5. I suspect that there is some simple software which flags certain words and later lets some part-timer to make a judgement as to letting (or not) the comment being posted. My local paper in Lexington, KY has such software which once flagged my expression “I hate to say”. The word “hate” was taboo, although the phrase was as innocuos as could be.

    Overall, while I sometimes get really disappointed when my obviously “brilliant” comments are not posted, this kind of sensorship is nothing compared to the grim sensorship I encountered as a former Soviet journalist. So, I kind of look at what “the Gray Lady” and others do to my creations as child’s play.

    But I might be very wrong.

    • I visited the old USSR, in 1985, and told my rosy-glassed leftist English alleged filmmakers (Sally Potter was there, so at least one actually was in the film world) that the place would fall apart. They all were aghast that I failed to see the worker’s paradise while people on the street literally tried to buy the worn out jacket I had off my back. And my Walkman Pro! I think in a way the censorship of the USSR was preferable by its directness to that which exists in the US, where the “market economy” provides the excuse, and where so much noise drowns out anything not supported on the corporate level. It allows most people to think there is no censorship and that we are “free.” Our alleged freedom is delimited by money – more money = more voice. And individual unattached to a money support is virtually gagged, as effectively as if he were tossed in a prison or sent to internal exile. Also your old censorship made for better artistry – you won’t see Hollywood paying for something like Tarkovsky, who had access to the full capacities of the Soviet Union’s impressive filmmaking industry.

      • I roughly agree. Besides, I, too, watched “Manufacturing Consent.”

        The task is to create something better than the system that sunk the old USSR and the system that sinks the Cold War winners. Or, maybe there is one out there already?

    • Michael from Florida
    • Posted October 23, 2010 at 9:56 pm
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    Dissappointed again today, this time with Bob Herbert who didn’t post this (which is entirely consistent with his own philosophy):

    What these conflicts most remind me of was when Britain was fighting to expand and maintain an empire in previous centuries and the lower classes had so few economic opportunities that they signed up to be cannon fodder for the crown. I know we aren’t maintaining an empire in the classic sense, since we don’t claim sovereignty over those foreign lands. We are more after global influence and leverage, and not merely at the locus of all the battles and bloodshed. It’s more like an attempt to scare the rest of the world into compliance with whatever it is we want–even if that is not clearly defined in all our minds.

    Isn’t that a good example of terrorism? Ah, says the true believer, we are just countering “their” terrorism with our valor. But what was the cause for them to strike out at us in the first place? They are not about to conquer or subjugate us, not even in their dreams. More likely “they” have been driven a bit mad by hundreds of years of Western colonialism, dating back to the Crusades. (Osama described this mindset well enough in his formal statement after the 9/11 attacks. His purposes did not include conquering the West, an impossible scenario.) Oh, but our own zealots counter, all that merely represented “our” taking back what was really ours after “they” went renegade. Starting from what historical baseline? How far back must we take this East-West conflict in order to continue justifying it? Back to ages even BEFORE Christianity or Islam existed as dominant religions and came to serve as the justifying fault line? Back to when the Greeks fought the Persians? Or the Egyptians fought the Hyksos? Or the Hebrews conquered the Philistines? It seems that this unending grudge has been used to justify the relatively recent (by historical standards) carnage in Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya, and, of course, the perennial conflict between Israel and all its neighbors. To my extraterrestrial mentality, this seems like one long uninterrupted line of historical cause and effect used to justify a continuing grab for land, wealth and power.

    Just pull our troops out, and let those people half way round the world resume living life their own way, no matter how alien or backwards it seems to us. Then our young men and women can have their lives back, and, more importantly, keep them. Too crazy simple to be realistic, right?

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