by

Jacob Bacharach, “Nate Silver Is Making This Up as He Goes”:

But even as Silver continues to present himself as an analytically rigorous alternative to the entrails-reading punditry of the “Morning Joe” variety, he also has shown an increasing affinity for precisely that brand of unquantifiable storytelling and third-scotch-at-the-hotel-bar pontificating for which his original project was supposed to be a remedy. During a recent round of the never-ending free speech debates, he opined that “false statements of fact” aren’t protected by the First Amendment, eliciting howling derision from the lawyers in the cloud. Just this week, he logged on to complain, after Trump was—entirely predictably, and without polling!—booed by a crowd at a Washington National’s baseball game on the same day he’d announced that the U.S. had supposedly killed the alleged leader of Islamic State, that “many Libs can’t even permit Trump to have one good day … after US forces kill perhaps the world’s most wanted terrorist.” (He has since issued a tweet suggesting, unconvincingly, that he was trolling.) It’s a curious stance from a man who claims, among other self-imposed limits and constraints, that his empirical models deliberately seek to ignore those major public events that move—usually briefly—opinions about politics and events. To use Silver’s preferred turn of phrase, isn’t one good day just more “noise”?