This coverage is one of the firsts in this week’s edition confidant, the newsletter pulls back the curtain on the media. Subscribe here and send your questions, tips and complaints here.
Famed statistics guru Nate Silver and his website FiveThirtyEight are on the “chopping block,” Confider has learned, as ABC News tries to cut costs.
A decision on the future of the famous politics, economics and sports analysis website will be made by the summer, when Silver’s contract expires, several people with knowledge of the situation told us.
The often combative Silver, who has come under scrutiny again for his site’s polling selections, now faces an uncertain future as news division boss Kim Godwin reviews the publication, which has never turned a profit.
FiveThirtyEight has not filled key positions, including editor-in-chief (Micah Cohen left last year for data site Stacker), political editor (Sarah E. Frostenson defected to The Washington Post), and sports editor (Sara Ziegler was poached by The New York Times).
Insiders complained to Confider that ABC’s lack of enthusiasm in building a subscription business around FiveThirtyEight was a “missed opportunity” that could have turned the site into a moneymaker for Disney.
But instead, ABC can try to relieve the publication.
Do you like what you read? Subscribe to the Confider newsletter here and get great reporting from the Daily Beast media team sent straight to your inbox every Monday night.
This wouldn’t be the first time a FiveThirtyEight acquisition has been discussed: in 2017, Silver held talks with both The Atlantic Ocean and The Athletic about a sale, said two people familiar with the situation.
Questions about FiveThirtyEight’s future come as Silver faces public criticism for his reliance on polls that inaccurately predicted a “red wave” in the midterm elections.
“I have no doubt that FiveThirtyEight was used by partisan sources to create a false impression of the election and that Nate knew this was happening and by not saying anything about it ultimately contributed to misleading the American people about what happened in the United States elections,” Democratic strategist and former ABC News producer Simon Rosenberg told Confider. turn to other sources to get information about polls.”
Silver did not respond to a request for comment, but an ABC News spokesperson texted Confider, “There are no impending decisions regarding our relationship with 538.”
Subscribe to the Confider newsletter here and get great reporting from the Daily Beast media team sent straight to your inbox every Monday night.