Patterico's Pontifications

2/27/2011

David Brooks: More People Own Ferrets Than Watch Fox News

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:22 am

As we will see, Brooks is wrong. It’s more like: more people own ferrets than read David Brooks.

The takeaway line:

[H]ere’s a fact from Morris Fiorina, Stanford political scientist: More people own ferrets than watch Fox News.

The thing is, he’s wrong. Not only does he feel compelled to use Fox News to make his smart-ass little point, but in the process he shows he can’t read a simple piece. Because that’s not what Morris Fiorina said. Fiorina actually compared ferret ownership to the number of people on Howard Dean’s mailing list:

To leave you with some perspective on activists, there are, in the last election, if you take out the non-citizens and felons and institutionalized people, there were 200 million eligible voters. About 80 million of these people weren’t even interested enough to vote. A survey released in the summer of 2004 caused a lot of flack because it reported that only 17-18 million people saw “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which was a surprise to many in the media. Now, if you assume that every single one of them was an eligible voter, agreed with Michael Moore, and voted for Kerry, that’s about 30% of his vote. If every single one of the people who listen to Rush Limbaugh was an eligible voter who agreed with him and voted for Bush, that’s about a quarter of Bush’s vote. Democrats and liberals are very paranoid about Fox TV. On a good day, Fox News gets about 3.5 million people tuning into the news. If every single one of them is an eligible, conservative voter who voted for Bush, that’s about 5% of his vote.

Finally, there’s the issue of Howard Dean’s vaunted e-mail list. Remember, the internet was going to revolutionize politics. The New York Times had a big article about how Joe Trippi was the guru of the new age of politics. But, in every campaign, there’s some dawn of a new age occurring. There were roughly ½ million people on this e-mail list. Now in absolute numbers, that’s a big number — 560,000 people. That happens to be the same number of Americans who own ferrets. And since ferrets are illegal in California and in New York City that number is clearly an underestimate. So, in other words, if you go out and pick out a random American voter, the odds are higher that that person owns a ferret than that that person was on Howard Dean’s e-mail list.

Now, I’m no math whiz . . . but last time I checked, 3.5 million was more than 560,000. (I’m not going to get into the weeds on ferret ownership; I’m content to go with Fiorina’s numbers. If you wish to dig deeper into the relevant statistics on ferret ownership — and why wouldn’t you?! — they are available here.)

In any event, I think we can all agree on one thing. The real question is: how do ferret ownership numbers compare to the readership of David Brooks?

In October, the New York Times had an average weekday circulation of 877,000. You think all those people read David Brooks? He’s lucky if 10% of them actually read his column. We’ll say 25% if we’re being really generous. That’s fewer than a quarter million people.

Which is less than half the number who own ferrets. Which means Brooks would have been more accurate to say: “twice as many Americans own ferrets as read me.”

Why do I bother writing about this? Because this is the kind of stupid soundbite that liberals will pick up on, and repeat ad nauseum. So it’s fun to have the facts at the ready to slap them down.

By the way, many of the above links were provided by commenters at Hot Air, who did an amazing job slapping around Brooks.

48 Responses to “David Brooks: More People Own Ferrets Than Watch Fox News”

  1. I did of course ignore the astounding number of people who read Brooks’s column online.

    Raise your hand if that astounding number includes any of you.

    I see no hands.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  2. Ya but who owns the Missing 14 Badgers….

    *******

    Actually have a friend in that can tell you all kinds of ways in which the NYT for decades has falsely inflated their circulation numbers.

    Haven’t they actually been taken to court over that?

    Something about defrauding their advertisers…

    Anyways if FOX News =Ferret owners, the NYT=possessors of marmots.

    madawaskan (fd190b)

  3. I read David Brooks’ column on-line… it’s usually the only one on their editorial page that’s half-readable. David Brooks’ columns are literary and political genius compared to the garbage Frank Rich spurts out of his fingertips every week.

    Brooks is just trying to show his liberal buddies how uncomfortable he is with the proles standing up for themselves, they’re supposed to know better and delegate their voice to reasonable people like David Brooks. Yes we do disagree on some things, but I think those unwashed masses stink as much as you do, Arianna!

    deepelemblues (a78b16)

  4. David who?

    either orr (6713b4)

  5. I never thought a lot of Brooks, but I get the feeling that he sold out for nice money for NYT and has now found that no one pays any attention to him.

    And he’s not happy about the trade.

    However, he’s certainly learned to match their standards of accuracy, given Rich, Dowd, Krugman et al.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  6. Fox News is as bad as the civil service employee unions?

    I am always amazed that the media refers to this guy as a conservative. He’s the NY Times version of one that they can live with, to wit, not a conservative.

    Arizona Bob (e8af2b)

  7. ferrets are banned in california like they was happy meals or oil production

    happyfeet (ab5779)

  8. More people have hyenias as pets than read David Brooks. A lot more. And they make more sense, smell better and are not as annoying.

    cedarhill (1e4ecf)

  9. More people have hyenias as pets than read David Brooks. A lot more. And they make more sense, smell better and are not as annoying.

    I don’t know about hyenas, but I bet more people watch videos on Youtube of pet centipedes eating mice in a year than he has gotten readers in a decade. What does that say, David?

    deepelemblues (a78b16)

  10. In the age of the web, why would you use circulation as an indicator of readership?

    According to the WSJ, nytimes.com gets 30 million unique visitors a month. Who knows for sure what portion reads David Brooks, but if 5% of those visitors read Brooks columns, then 1.5 million people read David Brooks at least once a month.

    Foo Bar (c1726e)

  11. “Fewer people watch Chris Matthews than are standing in line at a hot dog stand on 6th Avenue.”

    Mike Huckabee on the Laura Ingraham show 2/24/11.

    daleyrocks (ae76ce)

  12. The Journal’s numbers then would put Brooks in low circulation. Compare the total reach of Beck or Rush, minus radio, just based on web sites and mass linking. Makes a mil and a half kind of paltry.

    Vermont Neighbor (1e48bc)

  13. The people involved with my high school newspaper were smarter and wrote better than the current stable of New York Times op ed columnists. Spit.

    daleyrocks (ae76ce)

  14. ______________________________________

    I notice PJ O’Rourke responded with “isn’t there a lot of overlap?” I would think mixed in with his humor was some resentment at what Brooks was implying. Then again, I don’t know how squishy, or not, he or any number of pundits are.

    However, I do give Brooks points for saying that the Democrat Party is represented by public-employee unions. But his mentioning that far more telling (or actual) fact, particularly in this age of bloated government budgets and the specter of Wisconsin 2011, after making a dig at Fox News shows where his gut biases really lead him.

    Only in the context of the mindless liberalism that dominates the DC-Manhattan circuit could a uber-squish like Brooks be perceived as a conservative.

    Mark (3e3a7c)

  15. If only ferrets actually ran the New York Times, it might be in better shape.

    Craig Mc (74104c)

  16. I am always amazed that the media refers to this guy as a conservative. He’s the NY Times version of one that they can live with, to wit, not a conservative.

    Or as I call them, “Stockholm Conservatives”.

    Craig Mc (74104c)

  17. So Brooks just flat out flubbed it. It must be his habit to skim articles for supportive facts, as so many of us do. One would think though that he would be more careful of something he is going to state so forcefully. In his delivery it was obvious that this was no casual notion but a factoid he was harboring for tactical release. The big question of course is whether and how he might correct himself, hopefully the next time he is on a large venue or writes a column but we will not hold our breath. To his point though, if we are measuring the zeitgeist by media representation there is no one and nothing that compares to Rush Limbaugh. By any fair measure he is the biggest thing in media by far. As a one man show he gets an audience that a multi-million dollar movie would LOVE to make it’s first weekend, never mind opening night. And he commands this audience for fifteen broadcast hours a week. Even before you take into account that Rush does nothing but talk off the cuff it is plain that he has the largest share, especially of committed voters than anything, even say, a hit TV could claim. If you consider the man-hours put into a particular media product the relative size of Limbaugh’s presence increases a hundredfold easily. Brooks is a fraud from top to bottom. He is a fake conservative and fake intellectual. He is a fake commentator, since he is ignorant of those things he comments upon and I suspect he is also a fake nice guy, as he portrays in his appearances, because if he were really a man of good will he would be somewhat fair to his own declared side instead of sucking up to his paymasters, yes-manning their ceremonial post of house conservative. He is a scurrilous fool, in my book. No, I read him not. It is enough to read OF him.

    megapotamus (0cc084)

  18. It’s interesting that a columnist for a major newspaper can get a fact so hilariously wrong. The viewership numbers for Fox News peak in prime time and O’Reilly has higher numbers than those quoted. Unless he has a second job, I suspect those numbers are average or daytime, or something.

    None of this matters all that much, except as a comment on Brooks’ intelligence, but it is a fact that the voting public is figuring out the Democrats’ scam.

    Mike K (8f3f19)

  19. I do wish I could entice a few of those pundits to Lake Arrowhead. I have two feet of snow on my front porch and could use some hot air. A lot of hot air.

    Mike K (8f3f19)

  20. Not likely to be covered by the NYTimes:

    “Judicial Watch Obtains Previously Redacted Material from the FBI File of the Late Senator Ted Kennedy”

    “The documents include a December 28, 1961, State Department memo describing a tour of several Latin American countries taken by then-Assistant District Attorney of Suffolk County Kennedy.”

    “While Kennedy was in Santiago he made arrangements to ‘rent’ a brothel for an entire night. Kennedy allegedly invited one of the Embassy chauffeurs to participate in the night’s activities.”

    Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

    daleyrocks (ae76ce)

  21. daleyrocks, are you comparing an entire family of diseased eastern-aristo whoremongers with David Brooks … or the NYT?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  22. Maybe it was better when the press kept such stories quiet… all we have today is Charlie Sheen going off with one of his ex-wives, his pornstar girlfriend, and his marijuana magazine model girlfriend flying off sans kids to some island somewhere. Really, I’d rather not hear about a famous man’s sexual exploits than have to be bombarded with the skeeziness of the rich and powerful.

    deepelemblues (a78b16)

  23. “daleyrocks, are you comparing an entire family of diseased eastern-aristo whoremongers with David Brooks … or the NYT?”

    SPQR – I was merely scouring the internet so you don’t have to and pointing out a story the libtard hypocrites at the NY Slimes are unlikely to touch with a 10ft. pole.

    Ima giver that way.

    daleyrocks (ae76ce)

  24. David Brooks made a ridiculous comparison for what might not be a completely invalid point. A lot of people do not watch news period. They watch ESPN. That is the comparison to make and I am sure that a lot more people watch American Idol than read the New York Times too.

    But I do think that people are becoming more polarized and I also think there are a lot of people who respond to that atmosphere by just tuning it all out.

    However, that is hard to do if you don’t have a job or can’t afford to buy gas to get to work.

    Terrye (ce0d6f)

  25. Comment by cedarhill — 2/27/2011 @ 12:09 pm

    Ditto!

    AD-RtR/OS! (7c5a79)

  26. 13.The people involved with my high school newspaper were smarter and wrote better than the current stable of New York Times op ed columnists. Spit.
    Comment by daleyrock

    Agreed, and I don’t know anything about your high school.

    I’ve always said that few politicians and news commentators would pass my high school sophomore speech class, unless they got a high enough grade on a project to include as many logical fallacies as possible to make up for the rest.

    MD (from UW-Madison) in Philly (3d3f72)

  27. ‘David Brooks is a cancer’ well not really more of
    a pimple of irrelevance, but you know ‘he’s like the Mountain, he’s always there,’ like a chigger

    narciso (bf58f6)

  28. Comment by Mike K — 2/27/2011 @ 1:48 pm

    It is not his demonstrated lapses of intelligence that is so bothersome (as everyone will make a mistake now and then), it is complete lack of ethics.

    AD-RtR/OS! (7c5a79)

  29. Strike “is”, add “are”.
    Sorry.

    AD-RtR/OS! (7c5a79)

  30. “Really, I’d rather not hear about a famous man’s sexual exploits than have to be bombarded with the skeeziness of the rich and powerful.”

    deepelemblues – I would rather just see pictures of the babes for important journalistic purposes. If they happen to be sunbathing nekkid, I will have to force myself to endure.

    Patterico?

    daleyrocks (ae76ce)

  31. David Brooks: the mild-mannered, goofy-grin version of Power-glutes Sullivan. deepelemblues refers to Brooks’s columns as “half-readable”. A more accurate description might be ‘half-truths’ formulated while half his brain was tied behind his back.

    Icy Texan (53dae7)

  32. I would rather just see pictures of the babes for important journalistic purposes. If they happen to be sunbathing nekkid, I will have to force myself to endure.

    But that’s just the point! These girls aren’t attractive – sure, they’re (usually) in shape, but the whole “I stay up until 6 am 5-7 nights a week drinking, doing drugs and having casual sex” look is just not attractive. When you look like you need a good meal, a hot shower and ten hours of sleep and that’s your typical appearance, it’s not sexy.

    deepelemblues (a78b16)

  33. To each his own!

    AD-RtR/OS! (7c5a79)

  34. I’d hit it.

    daleyrocks (ae76ce)

  35. i am always amused at the Left’s inability to make up their minds…

    “Faux News” is stupid, no one listens to it except morons, but we need to take them off the air anyway… because they confuse people and destroy the civil discourse in the country.

    kinda like how President GW Bush was a mouth breathing moron and an evil genius all at the same time.

    fing morons, one and all.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  36. Brooks is playing to an audience. It’s not you or me.

    His audience is influential, but it is not, well, you or me.

    He also is seeing his influence diminish and he has to rage before he sees that no one cares. As if his opinion ever did outside his circle of dinosaurs.

    Ag80 (efea1d)

  37. I bet by the end of the week, Brooks will be forever referred to as David “The Ferret” Brooks by Rush, Hannity, Beck and others.

    Billy Bob (d77f81)

  38. Patterico–Brooks’s column is syndicated nationally–the Miami Herald carries it, for example, and I’d be surprised if your local Dog-trainer doesn’t carry it as well. So the number of people who potentially see it in print is much bigger than the readership of the NYT. What the numbers are, and how many people actually read it, I haven’t any idea. And this is in addition to anyone who reads it online in some form. The numbers are high enough to make it likely that his readers do outnumber ferret owners, but not Fox News viewers.

    kishnevi (b40a74)

  39. Brooks’ point about the political spectrum being a “bell curve” with most people in the center is also crap, by the way. Here’s a quote form Bill Bishop’s book The Big Sort:

    “Plotted on a graph of how they felt about the issues of the day in November 2006, American voters didn’t form a nice, high-peaked bell, with most people clustered toward the happy ideological center. Instead, there was a deep, sharp V, with voters pushed hard left and right. How many voters wavered between the two parties as true independents in 2006? About 10 percent.”

    gwjd (032bef)

  40. David Brooks, ferreting out the truth for all to read and ponder.

    Icy Texan (53dae7)

  41. “Really, I’d rather not hear about a famous man’s sexual exploits than have to be bombarded with the skeeziness of the rich and powerful.”

    deepelemblues – I would rather just see pictures of the babes for important journalistic purposes. If they happen to be sunbathing nekkid, I will have to force myself to endure.

    Patterico?

    Comment by daleyrocks — 2/27/2011 @ 3:22 pm

    daley,

    I have no plans to include said pictures in a post. However, there are 17 or so shots here if you’re interested.

    You’re welcome.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  42. Patterico – The last episode of MASH featured Charles Winchester coaching a group of Nork POWs who were musicians to play a Mozart piece. It was said that more people heard that bit of Mozart during that broadcast than had ever in concert halls to that date.

    May some day the same be true of David Brooks and your website.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  43. Patterico – Thank you for the link and thinking of me.

    daleyrocks (ae76ce)

  44. Brooks’ “Bobo” book was an embarrassment. And anyone who looked at Obama in 2007 and 2008 and thought he was looking at a moderate instead of a unaccomplished Chicago machine hack is a blasted fool.

    Bugg (9e308e)

  45. But David loved the crease in the ferret’s pants. Looks like Dave will have to have Sarah teach him reading comprehension or English as a second language.

    eaglewingz08 (74f660)

  46. If the quotes, didn’t make it clear, the first was
    Brooks speaking of Palin, the second about Obama.

    narciso (bf58f6)

  47. David Brooks is a RINO drag queen with a crumpled horn.

    ropelight (f9eee3)

  48. According to the WSJ, nytimes.com gets 30 million unique visitors a month.

    Which does not mean that there were 30 million different visitors, which you seem to believe. On the web, a unique visitor is someone who hasn’t been on the site in the last hour or so.

    iconoclast (bbd5ee)


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