Vox founder and editor-at-large Ezra Klein capped off his year by spreading misleading information in a viral tweet Tuesday.
Klein tweeted out a nine-month-old Washington Post article stating counties that hosted Trump rallies saw massive spikes in hate crimes compared to counties that didn’t host Trump rallies. Klein’s tweet garnered more than 7,000 retweets and more than 14,000 likes by Wednesday afternoon.
But what Klein didn’t tell his 2.5 million followers was that the article was based on a study that was thoroughly debunked months prior by researchers at Harvard University.
“We found that counties that had hosted a 2016 Trump campaign rally saw a 226 percent increase in reported hate crimes over comparable counties that did not host such a rally.” https://t.co/zy0093lPoH
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) December 31, 2019
“The study is wrong, and yet journalists ran with it anyway,” Harvard researchers Matthew Lilley and Brian Wheaton wrote in a September article published in Reason magazine. (RELATED: Hate Crimes Decreased In President Trump’s Second Year In Office)
When Lilley and Wheaton tried to replicate the original study, they found that “adding a simple statistical control for county population to the original analysis causes the estimated effect of Trump rallies on reported hate incidents to become statistically indistinguishable from zero.”
The criteria relied upon for the first study actually demonstrated that rallies for former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton “contribute to an even greater increase in hate incidents than Trump rallies,” they noted.
“Given how little scrutiny was required to reveal the flaws in the thesis that Trump rallies cause hate incidents, one cannot help but wonder whether its viral status was aided by journalists predisposed to believe its message,” the Harvard researchers added.
Klein has yet to delete his viral-but-misleading tweet, even after others pointed out that he was promoting a debunked study.
This was thoroughly debunked months ago.https://t.co/L19bkel7rY https://t.co/ApGhXgoGGH
— Vince Coglianese (@VinceCoglianese) December 31, 2019
This study has been thoroughly debunked. Controlling for population, hate crimes are higher in Clinton counties than Trump counties. https://t.co/3pXMw5nzZr https://t.co/nYiPhZGBXy
— Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) January 1, 2020
Vox didn’t return a request for comment on whether Klein would correct the misinformation.
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