Politics

David Brooks: ‘We as a country have become over-addicted to scandal’

Photo of Jeff Poor
Jeff Poor
Media Reporter

In his most recent column, The New York Times’ David Brooks downplayed the scandal over last September’s Benghazi terrorist attack. He declared that the maneuvering from the Obama administration was less a cover-up than an interagency turf war.

During his weekly appearance on PBS’s “NewsHour,” Brooks, a sometime supporter of President Obama and tax increases who holds the Times’ conservative-columnist position, took it a step further and blamed American political culture, which he said was addicted to scandals.

Brooks described  Watergate as the source of his interest in politics.

“I have a perverse relationship to Watergate, because it made me interested in politics,” Brooks said. “It was those hearings, watching those hearings on TV that really lit the fire for me that this was really important, that what happened in Washington was tremendously important, for good and evil, a test of character and a test of virtue. And it should be pointed out that, in Watergate, we saw acts of cowardice. We also saw some incredible acts of courage from some of the people chasing it down and reacting with integrity. To me, the aftershocks have been negative mostly, in part, as Mark [Shields] described, with loss of trust in government, in part the rise of a scandal culture.”

The “scandal culture” as he described it has become a means to achieve an edge on political opponents, he said and it has become an addiction that has hindered the political process.

“Watergate really was a scandal, but we now have a lot of people who try to use scandal to settle policy differences by other means, who take mini-scandals and try to use them to get some policy edge or a political edge,” Brooks said. “And I actually think we as a country have become over-addicted to scandal as a way to destroy other people. And that was in the Supreme Court hearings, and that’s in a lot of the scandals. So, I think it’s bred a politics of cynicism which kind of reverberates, without the actual substance of a major act of corruption.”

Follow Jeff on Twitter