As Twitchy reported, the media went wild last week when a report from Harvard University estimated that nearly 5,000 people in Puerto Rico had died from Hurricane Maria.
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker blog, though, took a look at how Harvard, whose researchers admitted they conducted “a quick study on a limited budget,” came up with that number and found that the methodology was ridiculously flawed:
In effect, the researchers took one number — 15 deaths identified from a survey of 3,299 households — and extrapolated that to come up with 4,645 deaths across the island. That number came with a very large caveat, clearly identified in the report, but few news media accounts bothered to explain the nuances.
Important: the 4,645 figure, estimated by Harvard University as being the number of people killed by hurricane Maria, has a range of possibility — the actual excess death count could be as low as 793 & as high as 8,498.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) June 2, 2018
The Post’s Glenn Kessler updated his fact-check with new information as it came in: “More recent data released by Puerto Rico after this fact check was published suggests the number is closer to 1,400.”
Apparently, CNN didn’t get a chance to look at that more recent data, because CNN’s Jeremy Diamond is still reporting the number of dead as more than 4,600 … and taking a swipe at President Trump for not mentioning the debunked number in a meeting at FEMA headquarters Wednesday on the government’s preparations for hurricane season.
Still nothing from Trump on the 4,600+ estimated to have died from Hurricane Maria. Even as he visited FEMA for a hurricane briefing today. Instead, praise for officials' handling of the 2017 hurricane season https://t.co/t2TXnJXuiz
— Jeremy Diamond (@JDiamond1) June 6, 2018
CNN still pushing the debunked 4600+ dead narrative. https://t.co/imTPkKsl4Q
— Darin Lloyd (@db_lloyd) June 6, 2018
the 4600+ estimate is based on faulty data.
— Mike Kumar (@mikeinyvr) June 6, 2018
Here's another tweet that really needs to be ratio'd. Estimate was revised down to 1400, and FEMA actually did a kick butt job in 2017 considering the number of major hurricanes. But whatevs, Jeremy. https://t.co/vIospWNoQg
— Pam D (@lifebythecreek) June 6, 2018
Completely debunked by PR's own death records.https://t.co/OZrzhXTAPd
— mallen (@mallen2010) June 6, 2018
Harvard study had an insanely huge margin of error, putting a low estimate of 798 and a high of over 8,000, w/ a horribly unscientific methodology, & then touted the median 4,600 number. Other studies have a final tally much closer to sub-1,000. Want Trump to go in there & count?
— Rick Lazzarini (@RickLazzarini) June 6, 2018
While any and all life is precious, the study has a range of 1000-5000 in estimates. How does one pinpoint 4600?
— Pete Havel (@petehavel) June 6, 2018
Wow @brianstelter why don’t you set the record straight instead of retweeting false info? Wait. Not the correct narrative? When are you headed to PR?
— Robert Shepherd (@Lightwielder70) June 6, 2018
You all are trying to manufacture a Katrina – Bush months after the fact using the shakiest of data that was based on extrapolating a small survey. If you ever wonder why Trump gets to much leeway from his base, it's because you are the proverbial boy who cried wolf.
— IT Guy (@ITGuy1959) June 6, 2018
Even MSNBC’s Chris Hayes made mention of the very dubious Harvard numbers:
— Corrupt 4th Estate (@WFBfan) June 6, 2018
If CNN wanted to project the narrative that President Trump just doesn’t care, well, mission accomplished.
He just doesn't care. That's all I have to say about that.
— Wes Linscott (@mainah50) June 6, 2018
Actual data on deaths in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria debunks Harvard study that media used to bash Trump https://t.co/F41Pywp2Ch
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) June 2, 2018