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In Nate Silver's book he writes that Wasserman of cook political was interviewing Democratic congressman Eric Massa to evaluate Eric's rating by the agency. In the interview, he was looking for red flags and noted that Eric Massa (who would later abruptly resign from Congress after an accusation that he sexually harassed a male staffer) kept asking Wasserman how old he was.

What was the significance of Eric Massa asking for Wasserman's age? Why was this a red flag?

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    What is "cook political"? Is it a proper noun, "Cook Political"? Is it "The Cook Political Report"? – Peter Mortensen May 25 at 16:30
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    Can you add some context, like the actual title of Nate Silver's book? What year was it published? 2020? 2016? This is for an international audience. – Peter Mortensen May 25 at 16:38
  • The signal and the noise, written in 2012. Yes it is the cook political report – Qwertford May 25 at 16:58
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Massa was flirting with Wasserman.

Why is this a red flag? Because this was a interview with a journalist, it is inappropriate to try to come-on to your interviewer. If Massa would flirt with the young reporter, he apparently doesn't understand appropriate social boundaries in the workplace; that's the "red flag".

I'm rather reading between the lines. There are other reasons why someone might ask for the age. One could be implying that the interviewer was too young and naive. But to repeatedly ask for the age is inappropriate, whatever the reason.

In the book stating (I paraphrase) «Massa (who later resigned due to harassment of a young male staffer) repeatedly asked me (a young male reporter) my age» is, I think, a pretty clear implication that that is how the reporter interpreted the situation. Even if it wasn't flirting, The age of the interviewer has no relevance in this situation, so asking about it was inappropriate, whether it was actually flirting or not.

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    Can you elaborate a bit? I might not understand some subtleties of US culture, but how do you jump from asking about age to flirting? Note that I am not familiar with this incident other than whats written in this Q&A. – Polygnome May 25 at 7:12
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    @Polygnome Flirting is never (well, except in the most forward cases) about what has been said, but about how something is said and in what context. – xLeitix May 25 at 8:46
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    I'm rather reading between the lines. There are other reasons why someone might ask for the age. One could be implying that the interviewer was too young an naive. But to repeatedly ask for the age is an inappropriate whatever the reason. In the book stating <Massa (who later resigned due to harassment of a young male staffer) repeatedly asked me (a young male reporter) my age> is, I think, a pretty clear implication. Even if it wasn't flirting, it was inappropriate, and demonstrated that Massa doesn't understand social boundaries in the workplace. – James K May 25 at 9:22
  • @Polygnome The age of the interviewer has no relevance in this situation, so asking about it was inappropriate, whether it was actually flirting or not. – user985366 May 25 at 10:02
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    @user985366 Unless Massa was astoundingly bad at the bullying or flirting, it should have been clear to Wasserman at the time which it was, no hindsight necessary. The text quoted here (I don’t have the book) seems to imply that it was reported as flirting prior to the scandal. As very data-driven reporters/commentators, I’d expect both Silver and Wasserman to be very wary of hindsight and describe their reactions differently if it only became clear that it was flirting after they learned of the scandal. – KRyan May 25 at 13:28
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Most likely it has to do with the scandal that forced Massa to resign (emphasis mine)

[On] March 4, 2010, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer confirmed that the House Ethics Committee was investigating allegations against Massa of sexual misconduct as the result of a complaint that a senior member of Massa's staff had filed with the committee on February 8, 2010. The investigation was said to involve alleged sexual advances and harassment toward a younger male member of Massa's staff.

The details are even worse

Former Rep. Eric Massa has been under investigation for allegations that he groped multiple male staffers working in his office, according to three sources familiar with the probe.

The allegations surrounding the New York Democrat date back at least a year, and involve "a pattern of behavior and physical harassment," according to one source. The new claims of alleged groping contradict statements by Massa, who resigned his office on Monday after it became public that he was the subject of a House ethics committee investigation for possible harassment.

David Wasserman is

  1. A man
  2. Not as old as Massa (I can't find an age for Wasserman, but I suspect he's about 25 years younger)

As such, it seems that Massa was attempting to see if he could engage in a sexual relationship with a younger male Wasserman, in the same way he apparently attempted to with his staffers.

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