You have to give credit where credit is due: In a world where there are few consequences for appallingly bad pundit predictions, Fox News — not The New York Times, not ABC News, not CNN — is taking the lead in pundit accountability. As we we learned Tuesday evening, Fox bosses are suddenly requiring their producers to get permission for booking Karl Rove and Dick Morris after the extremely wrong election performances of their chief talking heads. Now Fox can be fun to poke at, and its backdoor politics are under the microscope once again, but the network should be applauded for doing what so many frustrated pundit-haters have wanted for so long: making the punditocracy a little more like a meritocracy.
"According to multiple Fox sources, [Fox chief Roger] Ailes has issued a new directive to his staff: He wants the faces associated with the election off the air — for now," New York's Gabriel Sherman reports. That's Rove and Morris, who frequently predicted a Romney landslide. Other pundits have faced no such consequences. (See our pundit scorecard for the full record.) Yes, The New York Times has rewarded Nate Silver for accurately calling the election. But the Times has not punished David Brooks, who mocked Silver's forecast to Politico, calling him a "wizard." In fact, Times public editor Margaret Sullivan scolded Silver for making a bet that showed he actually believed his own forecast, but did not scold Brooks for trashing his own colleague for using math. (Brooks is best known for analyzing the electorate through imaginary people with names like Patio Man. He continues this work on his regular schedule.) At ABC News' This Week, George Will, also a Washington Post columnist, made the ridiculous prediction that Romney would win Minnesota because of gay marriage. Will was back on the show November 18. Peggy Noonan, of The Wall Street Journal and many a Sunday show, predicted a Romney victory and then kept right on punditing, showing up on This Week on November 25. CNN's Alex Castellanos predicted a Romney victory, then returned to the network the next week to talk about what went wrong.
Rove's battle with the Decision Desk over Ohio was amazing television, but it was also one of the greatest nerd victory in the history of Nerds vs. Bullies. When confronted live by Megyn Kelly with Rove's protestations, the nerds did not back down, but said they were 99.95 percent sure of their analysis. Ohio stayed called for Obama. Fox's decision to limit Rove's screen time makes it a double victory. Nerds win.