By now you know that Nate Silver is leaving The New York Times for ESPN. And you’ve probably read 73 articles about why he left. Well, courtesy of Margaret Sullivan, the Times public editor, we have more information on his departure. Apparently, quite a few people at the Times didn’t like ol’ Nate.
In a column, Sullivan writes that Silver’s method of covering politics — an emphasis on numbers, not blabbering — rubbed some staffers the wrong way:
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.
Not only that, but when Silver’s status began to rise, several Times staffers became jealous teens:
The Times tried very hard to give him a lot of editorial help and a great platform. It bent over backward to do so, and this, too, disturbed some staff members.
This is all understandable. Old people don’t like change, and writers have egos. And maybe Silver acted a bit too above everyone else and that earned him some pages in the Times’ burn book.
Now that Silver is gone, no one has to worry about any of this. But when you consider the axiom of probability and ratio of the crosstab, while (of course) allowing for continuity correction, you’ll see that this story is likely to linger. The variable being everyone likes reading trash talk and gossip. Duh.