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Nate Silver, the shutdown, and calling out the media’s coverage

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Oct. 8, 2013: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington.AP

Bret Baier said Monday that we may not dodge the bullet after all.

“For all of the people who think there is just going to be some solution automatically,” he said on “Fox & Friends,” “there are more people in the camp of ‘Wow, this may actually happen.’”

He’s right. There’s a natural human tendency to believe that, well, of course, at the last minute the warring politicians will come to their senses and not drive the country off the fiscal cliff. There was the same sense of hope in the run up to the government shutdown, which, as you may have noticed, is now in its 15thday.

Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid seem to be moving toward a short-term deal, which is why a White House session got canceled Monday, but that would still have to be sold to the House.

By focusing on each little twist and turn, such as “Obama and Boehner had a phone call” or “the Senate is coalescing around the Susan Collins plan,” the media may be giving the impression of actual movement when the reality is actually chaos.

The biggest problem now is the ticking clock. Even if the Senate, say, agrees on a short-term deal that avoids a government default, it still has to get through the House, and the creaky machinery of Capitol Hill just doesn’t move that quickly.

My view, in this space yesterday, that the MSM are overstating the long-term damage to the GOP got a boost of sorts from Nate Silver.

You remember Silver, the data analyst who attracted enormous attention as a New York Times blogger, then quit after the 2012 election to join ESPN. While his main focus will be sports, Silver weighs in on the Beltway drama with a piece on Grantland that says much of the media coverage has been BS.

“The folks you see on TV are much too sure of themselves,” Silver says. “They've been making too much of thin slices of polling and thinner historical precedents that might not apply this time around.”

Silver points out, as I did, that media controversies that seem huge in the moment have a way of fading.

“Remember Syria? The fiscal cliff? Benghazi? The IRS scandal? The collapse of immigration reform? All of these were hyped as game-changing political moments by the news media, just as so many stories were during the election last year,” he writes. “In each case, the public's interest quickly waned once the news cycle turned over to another story. Most political stories have a fairly short half-life and won't turn out to be as consequential as they seem at the time.

“Or consider the other story from President Obama's tenure in office that has the most parallels to the shutdown: the tense negotiations, in 2011, over the federal debt ceiling. The resolution to that crisis, which left voters across the political spectrum dissatisfied, did have some medium-term political impact: Obama's approval ratings declined to the low 40s from the high 40s, crossing a threshold that historically marks the difference between a reelected president and a one-termer, and congressional approval ratings plunged to record lows.”

But, of course, Obama recovered and handily won reelection.

I believe that memories of the shutdown and possible default will linger. The GOP can’t easily shake off an approval rating of now 24 percent in the Wall Street Journal/NBC poll. But it’s also true that in the heat of the moment the media tend to exaggerate the long-term impact.

Ed Henry Explains

Here’s why the Fox News White House correspondent left a White House briefing early after Jay Carney didn’t call on him.

Donald Trump for Governor?

Not holding my breath. Even he doesn’t seem to want to run. But the New York Post says it could happen.

“Increasingly desperate New York Republicans, seeking the political equivalent of a Hail Mary pass, are trying to get Donald Trump to run against Gov. Cuomo next year, The Post has learned,” the story reads.

But unlike his presidential flirtation last time, The Donald has a hard time pretending he wants to spend time in Albany.

“Asked for comment by The Post, Trump left open the possibility of entering the race and blasted Cuomo, and even Cuomo’s dad, ex-Gov. Mario Cuomo, for their records in office,” the report says. “He initially said he was ‘very flattered’ that top Republicans were promoting his potential candidacy for governor but noted that running for the office was ‘not something that I’ve ever even thought about.’”

But Trump obviously doesn’t mind having his name out there.

Luke Russert on Faith

On his CBN show, David Brody spoke with MSNBC’s Luke Russert about the media and religion.

“Does the media have some sort of bias against whether it be a strong conservative evangelical or maybe a strong Catholic, people of faith?” Brody asked. “It seems if you wear it on your sleeve too much you can get bit to a degree.” 

Russert’s response is worth noting.

“I think that’s absolutely accurate and I think the current world in which we live in, specifically with the American media ‘snark’ is valued,” Russert said. “And it’s very easy to come after people of faith no matter what they’re religion is…You’re sort of tagged with this label of being puritanical and not understanding of others and different viewpoints and I think that’s kind of lazy number one and I think it’s just something that just feeds the snickering masses in that regard.”

Yahoo Fail

I couldn’t agree more:

“Funny thing: It turns out that if Yahoo Mail users had wanted their email to look like Gmail, they would have just used Gmail,” Slate says.

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Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.