Citations Needed

Citations Needed is a podcast about the intersection of media, PR, and power, hosted by Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson.

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Episode 87: Nate Silver and the Crisis of Pundit Brain


Nate Silver tell us Joe Biden’s inconsistent political beliefs are, in fact, a benefit. They’re “his calling card” and evidence he “reads the room pretty well”. Venality, we are told, is “a normal and often successful [mode] for a politician.” Insurgent progressive groups like Justice Democrats shouldn’t call Biden out of touch with the base because, Silver tell us, “only 26 of the 79 candidates it endorsed last year won their primaries, and only 7 of those went on to win the general election.” On Twitter and his in columns, high-status pundit Nate Silver, has made a career reporting on the polls and insisting he’s just a dispassionate, non-ideological conduit of Cold Hard Facts, just channeling the holy word of data. Empirical journalism, he calls it. But this schtick, however, is very ideological - a reactionary worldview that prioritizes describing the world, rather than changing it. For Silver - and data-fetishists like him - politics is a sport to be gamed, rather than a mechanism for improving people’s lives. We are joined by Current Affairs editor-in-chief Nathan J. Robinson.


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 2019-09-18  58m