Last night, while police in Ferguson, Missouri, were indiscriminately firing tear gas and rubber bullets at a mostly peaceful group of protesters and journalists, two of whom were arrested without cause, data whiz Nate Silver thought it would be a good time to tell a silly story about how easy jail can be if you’re white. But instead of an allegory on racial privilege, the Twitter tale — which included being fed a burrito (!) in his cell — came off as especially oblivious while interspersed with video, images, and accounts of what looked like a war zone from others. Silver just kept tweeting about himself.
With journalist-centric Twitter serving as a solemn, angry, virtual community square for those not at the protests, the backlash to the first-person reverie was swift and strong:
But a former staffer from Grantland, which, like Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, is owned by ESPN, really spilled the beans, leaking what appears to be Mr. Burrito’s traffic numbers for the month of August:
Maybe Silver should have just put his arrest story in a blog post with a splashy headline and racked up the hate-clicks, Thought Catalog–style.
Update: Silver apologized.