Washington Post blogger and columnist Ezra Klein held an AMA (short for “ask me anything”) thread on Reddit today. His intended subject was a new elections forecasting tool he developed. But of course, many of the more than 440 questions strayed.
They ranged from the wonky (“How does the accuracy [of your model] change as the distance from the election shrinks?”) to the cheeky (“How can you as a pundit/columnist try to stay positive and upbeat? Zoloft?”) to the just plain weird (“If James T. Kirk ran against Jean Luc Picard for the Presidency of the Universe, who would win and would we all have to drink earl grey tea after?”).
“I don’t think of these things as actual scandals. They’re idiot stories that keep the press, the campaigns, and the country busy while we wait for real news.”
On what is “the biggest structural problem facing the U.S. political media”:
“The tendency of partisans — which includes most independents — to self-segregate into forms of media that agree with them.
… I should also add the collapse of the business model based on local monopolies, and the move to a world in which advertisers have a lot more possible outlets to choose from to reach any given audience.”
On the need to develop a new kind of politics:
“I think Washington focuses on the absolute wrong things. in my view, politics is still waiting for its Moneyball revolution.
… I mean a better understanding of what matters and what doesn’t, and more attention to metrics rather than to impressionistic takes on campaign messages, etc.”
On the question of how he or the Post makes money from his wonky statistical campaign models:
I persuade people to come look at them, and then I hope some of those people click on the advertisements, and then I hope the Washington Post notices and gives me a raise.
SO CLICK ON MY ADS JERKBAGS.
Related: NYT columnist Paul Krugman is scheduled to do an AMA on May 1.