David Brooks Posts a Burger Picture, Chaos Ensues

Restaurant at Newark Airport pushes back at 'NYT' columnist's suspiciously high tab
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 22, 2023 6:47 AM CDT
Updated Sep 24, 2023 11:15 AM CDT
NYT Columnist Ridiculed for $78 Burger Claim
David Brooks delivers remarks at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California, on Oct. 19, 2018.   (Matt Sayles/AP Images for Conrad N. Hilton Foundation)

David Brooks' op-eds for the New York Times have raised eyebrows before, but it was a tweet about his recent airport meal, and an insinuation about the US economy under President Biden, that put the newspaper columnist on the radar this week. That post has since gone viral, and the New Republic says Brooks is "getting absolutely roasted over" it. More on the commotion surrounding Brooks' burger-based brouhaha:

  • The tweet: The controversy kicked off with a photo Brooks put up on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday, showing his meal at a casual-looking eatery at New Jersey's Newark Liberty International Airport. In the pic: a half-eaten burger (with most of the toppings scraped off onto Brooks' plate), a bunch of crinkle-cut fries next to opened ketchup packets, and a glass holding an amber-colored drink with ice. "This meal just cost me $78 at Newark Airport," Brooks wrote, adding, "This is why Americans think the economy is terrible."
  • Fact-check time: HuffPost notes that reaction to Brooks' super-high-priced meal was swift. X's Community Notes, which allows approved users to add their own explanations or context to tweets, soon identified the restaurant and questioned Brooks' math (though that note has since disappeared): "Based on the similar table, glass, chair, sheet and cut of fries, this is the Smokehouse Restaurant in Newark Airport Terminal A." The note then added that the burger and fries at that joint typically comes to $17—not close to $80.
  • Pushback continues: Others speculated why Brooks' tab came to so much, with many noting that Brooks may have been drinking alcohol, which would've jacked up the tab. "This tweet is a good reminder never to tweet during or after libations," snarked fellow NYT contributor Wajahat Ali. "Just had coffee and bagel for $13.79 (including tip) at Dulles," noted Bulwark contributor Bill Kristol. "Possible that Bulwark per diem not quite as generous as NYTimes?"
  • Famous faces: Even Joyce Carol Oates jumped into the fray, per Slate. "(bar bill: $66. food bill: $12. tip: $0 N Y Times expense account)," the author wrote.

  • Enter the memes: The internet being the internet, Brooks' post inspired an avalanche of humorous jabs, all showing what their own $78 (or more) ostensibly got them.
  • Restaurant reaction: The 1911 Smoke House BBQ soon confirmed that Brooks had eaten at its establishment. "Looks like someone was knocking back some serious drinks," a Thursday Facebook post noted. "Bar tab was almost 80% and he's complaining about the cost of his meal. ... Keep drinking buddy." A separate post from the eatery thanked Brooks for the publicity and "hilarious" online comments that ensued from his tweet.
  • New menu item: The restaurant wasn't done with Brooks yet. "Just added to the Menu," it posted Thursday evening, showing its latest "D Brooks Special," which featured a burger, fries, and double shot of whiskey, all for just $17.78, along with the hashtag #youcantbeatourmeat.
  • Brooks' response? None yet, at least not online as of early Friday.
(More David Brooks stories.)

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