Skip to main content
ABC News
Reads & Reactions

In this edition of Reads & Reactions: Airfare controversies, 2012 disagreements, how-to-rank-reporting disputes and the comment of the half-month from a FiveThirtyEight reader.


Who knew airport pricing was such a contentious subject? At BoardingArea, two bloggers took serious issue with Nate’s rankings of the most over- and under-priced airports: Gary Leff at View From the Wing and Seth at The Wandering Aramean.

Although, a few people seemed to agree with the findings regarding Memphis International Airport.

The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait wasn’t buying Nate’s buy recommendation on Mitt Romney’s electoral prospects. Specifically, Mr. Chait thought Nate underestimated how much of a drag health care reform will be on Mr. Romney. “Romney has caught himself on the wrong side of the emotional hot button issue for the Republican Party,” Mr. Chait wrote.

In Part Two of his three-part look at early polling in presidential primaries, Nate saw a similarity between the Democratic contenders in 1976 and the Republicans looking to run in 2012; the candidates in both fields all seemed flawed in someway. But at A Plain Blog About Politics, Jonathan Bernstein argued against this assessment, writing that in 1976 there were “seven plausible nominees who entered the primaries without, as far as I know, a serious flaw as far as nomination politics are concerned.”

A FiveThirtyEight reader also saw a problem with Part Two: Thomas Mets from New York City, wrote, “There’s a possible flaw when it comes to adjusting name recognition for the poll average. It requires the assumption that the voters who are familiar with a candidate will act the same way in the same proportions as voters who are not familiar with the candidate.” Check out his full comment.

Nick Baumann, at Mother Jones, wrote an interesting critique of FiveThirtyEight’s original reporting rankings. But Mr. Baumann does think that if something like Nate’s rankings caught on, “…it’d be an immense public service, and it could transform the industry if outlets start competing on something other than who can post the most LOLcats, get the most cheap pageviews, or cut costs the fastest.”

And at ZDNet, Tom Foremski pointed to the original reporting article as more proof that it is time “… we retire the term social media? We should call it what it has now become: social distribution of (mass) media.”

In another media-related post, FiveThirtyEight analyzed coverage of potential 2012 Republican candidates, concluding that blogs focused on fringe candidates while traditional news outlets focused more on the candidates likelier to win. This discrepancy led some to lament the state of journalism in the blogosphere. At U.S. News & World Report, Robert Schlesinger wrote, “Even today newspapers fundamentally operate more from a point of view of giving readers [news] they need even if it’s not necessarily news they want,” adding that “Bloggers will tend to go where the page views are.”

P.M. Carpenter (at P.M. Carpenter’s Commentary) was “mostly untroubled by the blogosphere’s obsession with the GOP’s baboons and blatherskites.” He reasons, “Bloggers never promised to uphold the highest aspirations and virtuous integrity of the First Amendment.” Mr. Carpenter was concerned, however, with “cable and network news’ ratings-obsessed overdedication to those who will never advance.”


At The Washington Post, Ezra Klein looks at the Ryan budget and controlling health care costs.

Derek Thompson correlates art auctions and economic collapses at The Atlantic.

And finally, at Freakonomics, Sanjoy Mahajan thinks about how to think better.

Micah Cohen is FiveThirtyEight’s former managing editor.