New York Times blogger and stats geek Nate Silver caused a ruckus today when he offered to bet Joe Scarborough $1,000 that Barack Obama will win the presidential election. The offer came after Scarborough scoffed at Silver’s election model, which showed Barack Obama with a 73% chance of victory and a big margin in the electoral college. Scarborough sees the race as a pure tossup and said, “Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they’re jokes.”
Morning Joe responded to Silver’s petulance with a more graceful statement.
Not satisfied, Silver attempted to up the ante.
At this point, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan felt compelled to step in with a column criticizing Silver’s theatrics.
She seemed rather concerned that Silver would sully the Times’ image with his childish behavior, writing:
When he came to work at The Times, Mr. Silver gained a lot more visibility and the credibility associated with a prominent institution. But he lost something, too: the right to act like a free agent with responsibilities to nobody’s standards but his own.
At the end of it, Scarborough donated money without any bets, so at least some Hurricane victims will be getting help.
We’ve given Scarborough his share of (fully deserved) drubbings, but he did a good thing here by outclassing Silver’s temper tantrum.