Silver: Pundits Are ‘Fundamentally Useless’

-By Warner Todd Huston

Nate Silver, who shot to political media stardom for successfully parsing the election polls, has been on a bit of a tour of various media outlets since his successful prediction of November’s election results. One of his recurring themes is that “journalism” is important but “punditry is fundamentally useless.”

Silver’s latest appearance was at the Wednesday, December 12 D.C. Talks event sponsored by Google where he discussed media and media bias.

Silver told the crowd that he felt that the term “momentum” in reporting electoral politics was necessarily a biased term because it was essentially meaningless. When reporters use the word, Silver said, they aren’t really describing anything real. “They’re talking about some tangible concept to assert that more is happening than really is happening,” he said.

Oddly, Silver seemed to imagine that reporters, such as those at The New York Times over compensate away from liberalism because they are “terrified of being perceived as liberal.”

As stated above, he also felt that “punditry” was completely useless.

I don’t want to totally lump reporters and pundits in together, right? It’s kind of venial sins versus cardinal sins basically — right? — where reporting is very, very important and journalism is very, very important, and there are some things about campaign coverage that I might critique. Whereas punditry is fundamentally useless.

Silver also made some of these same comments in a recent interview with Conan O’Brien.

Nate Silver writes for the FiveThirtyEight blog at The New York Times.
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

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