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The November 7 episode of The Daily Show focuses on the post-election news coverage and Nate Silver is the guest.
The episode begins with Jon Stewart telling the audience that President Barack Obama’s re-election is official and that this has given Obama new energy. He also announces some other decisions, specifically the some states have legalized gay marriage, marijuana and elected the first openly lesbian senator. He then moves on to Florida, which, Stewart informs the viewer, is still too close to call. The good news, he says, is that, for once, Florida’s huge mess (he uses a less appropriate, but far more entertaining word starting with “cluster”) will have no effect on the election either way.
Stewart then moves on to talking about the media coverage. There were far fewer bad predictions or gimmicks which did not work than in previous years, with the glaring exception of FOX News or, as Stewart calls its, Bull**** Mountain. He uses the mountain metaphor throughout the episode, which is very well done. According to Stewart and the clips he shows, FOX News’ reporters and pundits had trouble accepting Obama’s re-election. They were adamant right up until the end that former Governor Mitt Romney would be elected by a clear majority and once it was clear he would not they started questioning the results and spreading the blame. They try to explain the Republicans loss on a number of things, such as the United States’ declining morality, the liberal media bias (despite polls saying the media was equally hard on both candidates), the demographics (this is basically read as minority groups) and Obama’s smear campaign (which was started by other republicans during the primaries).
This all leads very neatly into the episode’s guest, Nate Silver, who is there to talk about his predictions of the election results and his book, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t. As soon as Silver sits down, Stewart asks if, since the election results are in, he wants to apologize. Silver replies that, yes, he would, they did predict incorrectly with the North Dakota senate race. They then have a really interesting conversation about polls, how they are used and missed used and the predictions people make for elections. Silver even gives his thoughts on the general trend for elections in the future.
The episode overall was one of my favorites in a while. I will admit to always enjoying when FOX News looks foolish and Stewart had some excellent clips of that in this episode. The interview, though, was the best part. Silver and Stewart had a really interesting conversation and I really recommend people watch it.