Nate Silver, famous for his eerily accurate election predictions, is dumping the Gray Lady for the network of Keith Olbermann. The math wizard is taking his FiveThirtyEight blog — which was a must-read during the 2012 presidential election — and jumping ship to ESPN, reports his former co-worker Brian Stelter in The Times. Silver will now write and crunch numbers for the sports network while also "most likely" contributing to Keith Olbermann's new show, according to the Times report. In what is a classic Times-ian understatement, Stelter writes, "[Silver's] departure will most likely be interpreted as a blow to the company."
To which one might say: ya think?
Rarely does a free agent transaction in media garner this much attention. But we are talking about the University of Chicago-trained number-cruncher who nailed the last two presidential elections (not to mention down-ticket contests). His ability to bring eyeballs to the site was enormous, as TechCrunch reports:
At one point during the fall election news cycle, Silver’s Five Thirty Eight blog accounted for more than 20 percent of all visits to the entire New York Times website and 71 percent of all politics visits to the Times’ site.
Most expected him to stay within the Gray Lady's walls, building a franchise akin to Andrew Ross Sorkin's Dealbook empire. Executive editor Jill Abramson joked that Silver "has his own tower now," at the Times, while speaking at Business Insider's Ignite conference last November, practically issuing him a blank check upon his return.