Credibility and the 2012 Election

by Matthew Stollak on Monday, November 26, 2012

Imagine, if you will, your sales and marketing team making broad claims of success for your organization - gaining significant market share, increasing sales volume, what have you.  However, at the end of the year, not only were they wrong, the were widely off the mark.  

What do you do?  Fire them?  Pat them on the back and say better luck next time?  What is their responsibility for their inaccurate claims?  Do they remain credible?

With that in mind, its been interesting to see the fallout from the 2012 election of a similar group of claim makers - the political pundit.  Think about it - their one job during an election year is to analyze the race.  They have the inside connections, the ear to the ground, the background that should be able to make more accurate predictions than simply throwing a dart at a dartboard.

On the one hand, you have Nate Silver, whose blog at the New York Times. Using statistical analyses and poll averaging on a daily basis, he laid out the likelihood of the outcome of the Presidential outcome as well as who would win the electoral votes in each state.  He was pilloried, particularly in the last few weeks of the race.  Joe Scarborough, on the Morning Joe show on MSNBC, took particular offense, stating on October 29, “Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they’re jokes.”

Mr. Silver was more than willing to back up his claims, offering Mr. Scarborough a bet on Twitter of $1000 on the outcome of the race.  

On the other hand, take Peggy Noonan, for example.  In her Wall Street Journal blog on November 5, she wrote:

Who knows what to make of the weighting of the polls and the assumptions as to who will vote? Who knows the depth and breadth of each party’s turnout efforts? Among the wisest words spoken this cycle were by John Dickerson of CBS News and Slate, who said, in a conversation the night before the last presidential debate, that he thought maybe the American people were quietly cooking something up, something we don’t know about.
I think they are and I think it’s this: a Romney win.....All the vibrations are right.....

And, what did these not-so-good vibrations cost Noonan?  Was she taken off the Wall Street Journal beat?  Did she take a two-week humility break to contemplate how she could be so wrong?

No...she was on "Face the Nation" the Sunday immediately following the election.  Yesterday, she was a panel member of This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC.  

In essence, the political and professional price paid was...NONE.

One of the more interesting creations in the aftermath of the elections is this tumblr: Pundit Shaming.

Review the list....speak to me about the importance of credibility in business, and I'll point you to this list, and ask why should I care.

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