The New York Times has labeled Nate Silver as “disruptive” who didn’t “ever really fit into the Times culture and I think he was aware of that.” This from the New York Times public editor who wrote about Silver’s departure from the Times to take a new gig as a sports statistical analyst for ESPN.
Silver was the superstar of the New York Times. His FiveThirtyEight blog reached the status of “must read” for journalists and politicos alike as he revealed his almost psychic-like insight into polling in the 2008 and 2012 presidential election. Of course, we now know he was receiving internal, off-the-record polling from the Obama campaign that greatly helped in that analysis, but at the time he was treated as a superstar by Times management.
The scathing column hammering Silver on his way out the door is a fascinating insight into the jealous, petty world inside a newsroom like the Times and speaks more to the insecure bitchiness of Silver’s former colleagues than it does to Silver’s unique style of analysis.
A number of traditional and well-respected Times journalists disliked his work. The first time I wrote about him I suggested that print readers should have the same access to his writing that online readers were getting. I was surprised to quickly hear by e-mail from three high-profile Times political journalists, criticizing him and his work. They were also tough on me for seeming to endorse what he wrote, since I was suggesting that it get more visibility.