.@joenbc: If you think it’s a toss-up, let’s bet. If Obama wins, you donate $1,000 to the American Red Cross. If Romney wins, I do. Deal? — Nate Silver (@fivethirtyeight) November 1, 2012
NYT public editor Margaret Sullivan tsk tsks Silver for the above tweet:
When he came to work at The Times, Mr. Silver gained a lot more visibility and the credibility associated with a prominent institution. But he lost something, too: the right to act like a free agent with responsibilities to nobody’s standards but his own.
Sullivan’s piece is almost a parody of smug old media. She actually believes that Nate Silver gained “credibility” because of an association with an “institution.” No wonder she’s on the Pulitzer board. She represents all that is brain-dead about the legacy MSM. To their credit, the NYT has moved on, and their reputation has benefited from Nate’s presence there – as, I’m sure, has their traffic. But bow down to smell the jealousy:
Silver is closely associated with The Times and its journalism – in fact, he’s probably (and please know that I use the p-word loosely) its most high-profile writer at this particular moment.
And he came from the blogosphere! The horror! Josh Marshall defends Silver:
Silver is not really reliant on the Times at all. He’s his own brand. In the political realm he built it in the 2008 cycle (he obviously had a baseball sabermetrics rep before that). I don’t think there’s any question the Times gained considerably more than he did in the bargain. That’s why I suspect they’re paying him quite a lot of money and he was able to negotiate a deal in which the entire 538 franchise is still his. He’s just leasing it to them.
Amen. At the Beast, as at every other institution I have blogged at, I insist on total editorial independence in every respect. It’s in my contract. And notice the Sullivan assumption – again – that writers for the NYT cannot have opinions outside the op-ed page. Why not? In some ways, it’s refreshing that Nate told Scarborough to put his money where his mouth is – for charity. Alex argues that “the NYTimes should require that Silver, and other pundits, bet their beliefs”:
Overall, I am for betting because I am against bullshit. Bullshit is polluting our discourse and drowning the facts. A bet costs the bullshitter more than the non-bullshitter so the willingness to bet signals honest belief. A bet is a tax on bullshit; and it is a just tax, tribute paid by the bullshitters to those with genuine knowledge.
Amen. Nate fights back against his critics here. Presumably Ms Sullivan will approve.