A few years ago, Bill Kristol rocked the political world by speculating that Colin Powell would likely endorse then-Senator Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention. Powell didn't, of course — but Kristol still got the Drudge link and dominated the news cycle for a few days (in fairness, Powell did endorse Obama... months later.)
Everyone gets it wrong sometimes, and in this regard, Kristol is hardly alone. But there seems to be no disincentive for doing so. As James Surowiecki writes in the The New Yorker (regarding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370), "There are forecasting professions where this happens: stock analysts who err are more likely to get fired. But in the media mistaken conjectures tend to be quickly forgotten, so there's little downside to being bold and wrong." (Sometimes, of course, bad predictions do haunt the predictor. But that is rare — and essentially requires someone to almost intentionally tempt fate.)
For those hoping to solve this problem, groups like PunditFact have sprung up to fact-check pundits' claims. This sounds like a positive development, but the utopian notion that innovations will solve our problems usually ignores the fact that they also create them.
At the risk of injecting a horrible idea into the bloodstream, let me tell you where treating commentators like candidates likely leads. How long before outside groups start "scoring" conservative and liberal pundits? Here's what we can expect in to hear in the future: "Matt Lewis was invited on TV to debate a liberal? Did you know he only has a 76 percent rating from the Conservative Senate Action Fund Project?!?"
Welcome to the brave new world of punditry. Matt K. Lewis
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced executive orders Saturday intended to ban LGBT conversion therapy in the state, BuzzFeed News reports.
Both public and private insurers are banned from reimbursing the therapy, which aims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, for minors. And facilities funded, licensed, or operated by New York will not be allowed to offer conversion therapy to minors.
"We will not allow the misguided and the intolerant to punish LGBT young people for simply being who they are," Cuomo said in a statement.
Don't panic, but Twitter might shake up your reverse chronological feed as soon as next week, BuzzFeed News reported Friday. They're already testing a new feature — an algorithm designed to put tweets you want to see near the top of your feed — with a small number of users.
There's reason to believe the switch, which would look a lot like your Facebook feed's out-of-order posts, will be optional:
Sources at Twitter tell me algorithms are strictly opt in.
— Josh Sternberg (@joshsternberg) February 6, 2016
Twitter declined to comment on feed changes. Julie Kliegman
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is in the middle of dealing with a crisis in Flint, where lead pipes have contaminated the drinking water. While addressing a grave concern in an impoverished city, Snyder celebrated his wife's birthday with quite an upscale-looking cake from an Ann Arbor bakery, MLive reports:
— Liz Day (@LizDDay) February 6, 2016
Interesting choice of optics. Julie Kliegman
MSNBC pundit Melissa Harris-Perry called out the Democratic Party on Saturday for a lack of diversity in an "anemic" candidate pool.
"I would argue that for me, Thursday night, watching Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — we are in New Hampshire — and our party is so anemic. We are down to two candidates, right?" Harris-Perry said. "Say what you want to say about the mad house going on on the Republican side."
For Harris-Perry, the primary field bears some resemblance to a certain other much talked about national event: "It's whiter than the Oscars up in here." Julie Kliegman
You may or may not be excited for football, but chances are you're pretty amped about the food associated with Super Bowl Sunday.
Here are some striking numbers courtesy of ABC News regarding what U.S. viewers are expected to wolf down as the Denver Broncos face the Carolina Panthers:
12 million — Americans watching from restaurants and bars
48 million — takeout and deliver orders
139.4 million — pounds of avocados
1.3 billion — chicken wings, a 3 percent increase over 2015
$15.5 billion — total Super Bowl spending
Happy eating. Julie Kliegman
Saturday would've marked Babe Ruth's 121st birthday. To honor The Great Bambino, relive the glory of his first-ever New York Times profile. It's from way back in 1915, and it has some real gems:
— NYT Archives (@NYTArchives) February 6, 2016
The paper of record described the soon-to-be-record-setting slugger as "peculiar" and "built like a bale of cotton."
"What the Yanks evidently need are some peculiar left-handed pitchers," the profile went on to say, to counter Ruth, who then pitched for the rival Boston Red Sox.
Either that, or perhaps they just needed to make the trade of the century. Julie Kliegman
As the Syrian government works to cut off Aleppo's rebel supply route from Turkey, foreign intervention is not welcome, Foreign Minister Walid-al-Moallem warned Saturday, The Associated Press reports.
"Any ground intervention in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government will be considered an aggression that should be resisted by every Syrian citizen," he said. "I regret to say that they will return home in wooden coffins."
Saudi Arabia recently said it would send troops as part of a U.S.-led coalition to fight Islamic State extremists, who control parts of Syria. The United Nations suspended peace talks Wednesday as conflict near Aleppo ramped up. Julie Kliegman