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Posts Tagged ‘David Hill’

What You Should Think, Nate Silver Edition

We’ve read a bunch of opinion pieces on Nate Silver this week, mostly so you don’t have to—because we know how much some of you hate him. The highlights:

You’re Fired!

NYT‘s Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan, wrote in a recent column that after praising Nate Silver, she was contacted by three “high-profile” political reporters at the paper “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.” She thinks this is because Silver’s style of data-based journalism threatened the more… traditional way they covered politics. In other words, he made them feel irrelevant and they lashed out at Sullivan. Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum thinks this is a firing offense. “Even for those of us who are pretty cynical about political reporting, this is astonishing. If I were editor of the Times, I’d do whatever it took to find out who those three are, and then fire them instantly,” he says. Let’s see… fire a reporter who reacts badly out of an inflated sense of self-importance and ego. If that’s the standard, journalism could be in more trouble than we thought.

The Guy Who Doesn’t Get It, But Thinks He Does

David Hill‘s columns at The Hill are normally confounding, and this week’s on Silver is no exception. He spends a lot of time explaining how Silver will fail in his switch to ESPN for reason’s he can’t quite articulate, other than that “(l)ots of Web clicks, even millions of clicks, for a few months every four years does not qualify as mass media by most standards.” Really? Let’s be clear—Hill has absolutely no idea what Silver’s traffic at the Times is, or when. He’s speculating, and poorly. Scratch that, he’s just making stuff up to prove a point that seems to elude even him, facts or truth be damned. He says there isn’t enough interest out there for Silver to make it beyond his “15 minutes of fame at The New York Times,” (is Hill’s watch that slow?) and then tells us how he had the idea to exactly what Silver does “probably before Silver was born.” The kicker is Hill doesn’t seem to actually totally understand what Silver does—it’s statistics and probabilities and data modeling and that’s… science. So why would Hill, a Republican, take time to understand it? To top it off, this column follows one a few weeks back in which he calls big-data a “craze”  that threatens polling standards and then excoriates the Obama campaign for perceived ethical lapses in microtargeting voters. Nevermind Karl Rove pioneered microtargeting years earlier for Bush. Facts are not Hill’s strong point. Read more

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What You Should Think, Straight From The Hill

This week, we sat down and read The Hill‘s opinion section, mostly so you don’t have to. Here’s a sampling of what we found:

“Scare Quotes” 

How do you write a nearly-700 word column and say everything, yet nothing all at the same time? Ask The Hill‘s editors, because they published a piece yesterday from Republican “pollster” David Hill that did just that. We put “pollster” in quotes because that’s what Hill (not to be confused with the name of the newspaper) did over and over again—around words like “organized” (in reference to religion) and “rich people” and “average” (in reference to “not rich”) and “global warming” and “climate change” and even “good thing” (in reference to a poll answer). Oddly, he left gay marriage, the one phrase we usually expect a Republican to wrap up in those scary punctuation marks, naked and alone. This belies a bigger issue with the piece, in that Hill doesn’t seem to know exactly what he wants to say. He starts by listing a host of left-wing accomplishments under President Obama and then warns that more! is! coming! but he doesn’t actually know what the more will be. How could he? But he also can’t seem to lay it on the line and make a solid prediction (or, for that matter, let “words” stand on their own without the quotes). Instead, he just throws everything from gun control to what he calls a “newly impassioned green movement” against the wall on the odds that something will stick.

Politicians = Politicians

Mark Mellman, president of the left-leaning Mellman Group, breaks down for us why Republican senators were apt to vote for immigration reform, but why he thinks the House won’t. It comes down pretty simply to demographics. Young and minority voters tend to be packed into cities, so that particular block—in favor of reform—impacts only a few House districts while almost every senator has to deal with it at some point or another. His argument, while it could’ve been laid out a little more clearly, comes to a sobering point: what we saw happen in the Senate with immigration reform doesn’t signal any kind of new era of bipartisan cooperation, nor does it mean Congress will actually start resembling anything like a functioning institution in the near future. It just means they’re politicians. But then, we already knew that.

Pass the Damn Thing!

Ah, but wait. While Mellman thinks the House won’t come together on an immigration bill, we also have a piece from Dick Morris, former adviser to Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and pollster to President Bill Clinton, that says otherwise. Morris thinks Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will pass some kind of reform, because he has to.  Good luck, though, guessing what said law will look like when the process is all said and done. No matter which way Boehner moves his bill, to the right or the left, he’s going to run the risk of alienating crucial votes and riding right of the rails, says Morris. It’s almost like Morris thinks we’ve elected a Congress that’s incapable of… being a Congress. Why would we expect them to ever do something so complicated as pass legislation? Still, the leadership of the national Republican Party has made it clear that it now believes consistently demonizing a huge group of voters—namely Latinos, who, go figure, identify strongly with the immigration issue—isn’t a good thing to do any longer if they want to continue to be a national political party. So Morris puts a pretty fine point on it: “It is important that Boehner remove the issue from the national stage by passing the bill and ending an irritant that keeps Latinos voting Democratic.” Good thing he clarifies this is all about staying in power. We’d have been real confused if a Republican had hinted at having any kind of… we don’t know… social justice or humanitarian reasons for seeing a need to fix the unfair and odious immigration system we have now. Phew! That was a close one.