In October 2018, The Hollywood Reporter published a piece called, “‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ Negative Buzz Amplified by Russian Trolls, Study Finds.'” For some reason, that year-old study (and theory) was picked up on Christmas Eve by Annalee Newitz, who published a piece in the New York Times titled, “‘Star Wars’ Fans Are Angry and Polarized. Like All Americans.”

And so the study claiming that Russian trolls were behind as much as half of the online hate for “The Last Jedi” was pushed into the forefront again. To emphasize her point about America being polarized, Newitz wrote that “… a recent study by Morten Bay, a University of Southern California digital media researcher, revealed that over 50 percent of the venom directed on Twitter at Rian Johnson, director of ‘The Last Jedi,’ came from the same sources as Russian election meddling.”

So the same Russian trolls who meddled in the 2016 election also rage-tweeted at “Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson?

That is insane.

So Russian bots were using the debate over the movie “to propagate political messages supporting extreme right-wing causes and the discrimination of gender, race or sexuality.” What?

The author of the study even popped up Thursday to refute the New York Times’ narrative:

Alex Griswold reports at The Free Beacon:

First, it’s important to note that study didn’t actually study general tweets about Star Wars, given how many thousands of those there are in a given day. Instead Bay chose to study “tweets addressing The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson directly. Using Twitter’s Advanced Search functionality, I retrieved 1273 tweets tweeted directly at the director’s Twitter handle, ‘@rianjohnson’ between December 13, 2017 and July 20, 2018.”

From there, Bay went through each tweet individually and determined whether the tweet is positive, neutral, or negative. He then went through the accounts that sent the negative tweets and categorized them as “Political agenda, Troll/Sock Puppets/bots and Real fantagonists” based on their other Twitter activity.

So it sounds like a rather flimsy study done over a year ago has just been revived and misconstrued by the New York Times to make it sound like Russians were behind the online campaign to trash “The Last Jedi” — which even the author of the study refutes.

And the squabbling over “The Rise of Skywalker” is already in high gear.