David Brooks is getting absolutely roasted over a picture of a burger. It all began on Wednesday evening when Brooks, a political columnist for The New York Times, shared a photo of his meal at Newark Airport on X, formerly known as Twitter:
Brooks claimed that the burger, fries, and liquor cost him $78—a clear sign of why “Americans think the economy is terrible.” It didn’t take long, however, for the internet to pounce on Brooks for the sheer impossibility of the price that he’d suggested.
Author and minor Twitter celebrity Joyce Carol Oates was one of many to jump on Brooks’s claim.
Like Oates, users mostly wanted to know what exactly was in Brooks’s glass…
… and how many of those he’d ordered before he decided to begin posting his astute economic analysis.
Soon, the Newark Airport restaurant was identified—and a small disclaimer appeared beneath Brooks’s original post with a link to the menu from the restaurant. The reader context noted: “Based on the similar table, glass, chair, sheet and cut of fries, this is the Smokehouse Restaurant in Newark Airport Terminal A. The burger and fries cost $17.”
(The additional reader context then briefly disappeared, despite being very helpful.)
Even the restaurant responded to Brooks’s post, confirming the insanity of his claim. “Looks like someone was knocking back drinks,” the restaurant posted on Facebook. “Bar tab was almost 80% and he’s complaining about the cost of the meal.”
Americans don’t think the economy is terrible because of inflated prices at the airport. But they might be swayed by commentators like Brooks who alternate between touting how great American capitalism is and cherry-picking details from their own upper-class lifestyle as proof that we’re nearing the end.
Airport food is expensive—but it’s not that expensive. Maybe Brooks could use this opportunity to pivot into speculative fiction, but in the meantime, if he ever wants to comment on economic news, he may want to lay off the whiskey first.