"They’re [Politico] trying to cover [politics] like sports, but not in an intelligent way at all," math genie/political wizard Nate Silver said a new interview released today. "In politics, you can have a month where nothing of import whatsoever happens. But you still have to have Politico produce a paper seven times a week and that's when they're trying to start trouble." Doing the simple math, seven times, carry the — Nate Silver is not fond of Politico. And that's news because Silver is such a big player in the political field and so is Politico, and well, for political wonks, this little catfight is delicious.
Silver was saying all of this in a podcast with with ESPN's Bill Simmons's "The BS Report," but it wasn't like Silver was actually saying all these things out of the blue. There's a point in the podcast where Simmons asks Silver about Politico's Dylan Byers quasi-hitpiece which asked in its headline: "Nate Silver: One-term celebrity?" In that piece, Byers included lines like this one: "For all the confidence Silver puts in his predictions, he often gives the impression of hedging. But this was the the sledgehammer:
What matters for Silver is that the president wins and that he ends up with a total number of electoral votes somewhere in the ballpark of whatever Silver predicts on the afternoon of Nov. 6. And even then, you won't know if he actually had a 50.1 percent chance or a 74.6 percent chance of getting there.
Well, Silver called all 50 states correctly for the second presidential election in a row, which means he gets to have an exchange like this complete with Silver's funny Dylan Byers voice (the exchange happens around 48 minutes into the hour-plus podcast):
Silver: What's remarkable for me is that you had some journalist for Politico who tweeted out "All Nate's doing is averaging polls and counting electoral votes right? That's the secret sauce?." Well, yeah, and the fact that you can't comprehend that very basic thing, that says more about you than it does about me, right?
Simmons: Politico ... It was like passive aggressive coming after you but they couldn't find a good way to do it.
Silver: Politico is a "who won the day" kind of thing, right? They're trying to cover (politics) it like it's sports but not in an intelligent way at all. They want to create noise, basically. Their whole thing is you have to have a lead story about some gaffe that somebody made on the campaign trail ... In politics, you can have a whole month where nothing of any import- whatsoever happens. But you still have to have Politico produce a paper seven times a week—
Simmons: —and that's when they're trying to start trouble.