Remember all those breathless reports about hate crimes increasing in counties that had hosted Trump rallies?

Political science experts’ research found a relationship that they thought was worth sharing with the rest of the class:

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.

Of course, our analysis cannot be certain it was Trump’s campaign rally rhetoric that caused people to commit more hate crimes in the host county. However, suggestions that this effect can be explained through a plethora of faux hate crimes are at best unrealistic. In fact, this charge is frequently used as a political tool to dismiss concerns about hate crimes. Research shows it is far more likely that hate crime statistics are considerably lower because of underreporting.

Additionally, it is hard to discount a “Trump effect” when a considerable number of these reported hate crimes reference Trump. According to the ADL’s 2016 data, these incidents included vandalism, intimidation and assault.

That was back in March … and this is now:

More from Reason:

Using additional data we collected, we also analyzed the effect of Hillary Clinton’s campaign rallies using the identical statistical framework. The ostensible finding: Clinton rallies contribute to an even greater increase in hate incidents than Trump rallies.

This should be enough to give any reader pause. The implied reasoning of those who cited the initial study was that Trump’s caustic and seemingly racist rhetoric contributed to a crueler, more discriminatory climate, ripe for hate crimes. If this interpretation is correct, why did Clinton inspire as many, if not more, hate incidents as Trump did? Did calling millions of Americans “deplorables” promote violence?

Probably not. Both of these results rely on comparing counties with rallies to other counties without them. This produces a glaring problem. Politicians tend to hold political rallies near where large numbers of people live. And in places with more people, the raw number of crimes is generally mechanically higher. Simply put, no one should be surprised that Orange County, California (population 3.19 million) was home to both more reported hate incidents (5) and Trump rallies (2) than Orange County, Indiana (population 19,840, which had zero of each).

Nor is it sensible to interpret that one of these differences (hate crimes) is caused by the other (political rallies). Indeed, 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 study is wrong, and yet journalists ran with it anyway.

Indeed they did.

Reason is certainly no bastion of Trump love, but based on their own analysis, they’ve concluded that the initial “research” was colored by the researchers’ political bias. And that seems like a reasonable assessment.

What remains to be seen now is if all the media outlets and Democratic politicians who used the flawed study to hit Trump on hate crimes will apologize for jumping the gun.

We won’t hold our breath, of course.