4:09 pm Nov. 15, 2012
“It’s like we’ve taken a time machine back to 2007,” remarked one guest as he mounted the staircase to the second-floor loft apartment of Nick Denton, lord of the Gawker Media empire.
He was talking about an era when parties at Denton's loft, across the street from Balthazar at the corner of Spring and Crosby Streets in Soho, seemed a little more regular.
“I feel like I’m going to a high school reunion,” said another guest as she climbed the stairs, too.
In fact, Denton has continued to regularly have parties for media types at his apartment; it's just the excitement that felt like a throwback to a time where there was more to get excited about in New York media.*
Because tonight's honoree was Nate Silver, the New York Times blogger and poll-rider, the proprietor of FiveThirtyEight, and the media's' winner of the 2012 election cycle.
Silver, whose predictions for the election results were proven highly accurate by the actual results (after a string of self-serving critics had derided them) could not be riding higher right now in the Manhattan media demimonde. His journalistic victory over Internet trolls, hidebound old-school pollsters and conservative fact-checkers almost seems destined for a chapter in the same book of victories that will chronicle the publishing of the Pentagon Papers.
And what better time could he have chosen for the release of his book, The Signal and the Noise, the ostensive excuse for tonight's celebration, than the Nate Silver Boom week immediately following the election?
Being here meant basking in some of the magic of Nate Silver, the surprisingly young-looking bespectacled guy behind that one page on nytimes.com you had likely been refreshing several times a day leading up to this month's elections.
Inside, it was unclear whether all the guests – a cross-section of New York media as defined by the last five years—had come to pay homage to the newfound power of Nate Silver, or whether a Denton party invite, dispersed on Facebook, was just too good to resist. More than a few attendees in the over-packed room, huddled in years-long established media cliques, could be overheard asking which of the many men in attendance was Nate Silver.
They got their answer when former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller took the stage (or the window seat, as the case may be) to toast Silver’s dominance.
Remarking that it might seem strange to some that he could be found patronizing a Denton party, so at odds does their media worldview seem to be (though not odd enough to keep Keller away from a party celebrating the launch of the Guardian’s New York offices last year), Keller elaborated on the connection:
“Actually, the place where we meet is Nate Silver,” said Keller, “because he drives tons of traffic, which Nick appreciates more than anybody on the planet, and integrity, which I appreciate. “
Keller continued “I strongly suspect the first line of my obit will be ‘Bill Keller, who brought Nate Silver to the New York Times…’”
For his part, Silver appeared to be taking all this heady praise calmly in stride.
“This is all a little bit surreal to me,” he said, joking that he'd have to assess the plausibility that the whole party was a hallucination. He'd gotten into a riff about assigning weight factors.
But most of the Silver admiration had to be done at a distance: The Silver rush aside, he was after all here for a reason—mostly to sign books. Camped out by himself near one of the window streets overlooking a festive, late-autumn-evening tableau on Spring Street, there he sat, signing books in the quiet as the room continued to grow more packed, gawked at from a distance by people in line at Denton's enormous kitchen island where the wine and beer were.
If this party was intended to signal Silver’s rise to the top, then it was sometimes hard to discern through all the noise.
*Adjusted while I work on a correction, which is the editor's fault not the writer's! Will update shortly.
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