Along with the Jets and the Sharks, and the Hatfields and McCoys, and the Giants and Dodgers, we can now add Nate Silver and Paul Krugman to the list of America's bitterest rivals.
The two would seem to have lots in common—nerdy economics types with big public platforms and an almost hypnotic hold on the liberal class—but lately they've been feuding with a gusto that would make a 1920s gangster blush. On Wednesday night, Silver took the battle to a new level.
The fight began when Krugman announced that he just didn't like Silver's website that much. His main beef, he said, was that Silver wasn't providing enough analysis or context along with his data-heavy stories. He repeated this charge multiple times before finally proclaiming that "so far [FiveThirtyEight] looks like something between a disappointment and a disaster."
Silver hit back, telling Talking Points Memo that Krugman seemed to be writing "with his pundit hat on -- it wasn't making an attempt to be fair." (For the uninitiated, Silver has made no secret of his disdain for pundits, so that was the equivalent of a searing critique.) He also said there was plenty of analysis on FiveThirtyEight.
Things seemingly came to a boil on Wednesday, though. Krugman linked to another negative post about Silver's new site, adding that he thought FiveThirtyEight was just a bunch of "sloppy and casual opining with a bit of data used, as the old saying goes, the way a drunkard uses a lamppost —
for support, not illumination."
In response, Silver took to his site with a post called "For Columnist, A Change Of Tone."
"A New York Times columnist has expressed substantially more negative sentiments about FiveThirtyEight since it left The New York Times, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis," the post began. Silver then used—what else?—a chart to show that Krugman was friendlier to his site when it was part of the Times. He also hinted that his antipathy towards pundits was driving Krugman's antipathy towards him.
Silver's attack drew attacks of its own; Slate's Dave Weigel, for instance, called it "awfully ungenerous" and said that "it seems to underscore the problems Krugman and other former (and future, maybe) Silverphiles have with the new site's ethos."
How will it end? Probably the way most media feuds do: with a couple more blog posts.