With still a few hours left of 2019, Vox founder and editor-at-large Ezra Klein has apparently decided to wrap this decade up with a reminder that he’s a flaming hack:
"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
Klein’s own Vox ran with that narrative:
— Peter J. Hasson (@peterjhasson) September 9, 2019
As Twitchy told you back in September, Reason performed their own analysis of the available data and found that the study upon which the claims that Trump rallies led to an increase in hate crimes was highly flawed:
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.
And journalists like Ezra Klein are still running with it.
— Vince Coglianese (@VinceCoglianese) December 31, 2019
— ⛄Katie Yonke⛄ (@JKHomestead) December 31, 2019
What a total lie
— BobAllen (@pckrs1) December 31, 2019
— Ellen (@elliemaygottasa) December 31, 2019
— Ryan B. Leslie (@RyanBLeslie) December 31, 2019
And they found an even bigger increase in counties that hosted a Hillary rally in 2016.
Has nothing to do with either. Rallies are held in more populated areas. These areas are reporting more hate crimes, across the board.
This is why there is no point in debating Ezra. https://t.co/zIWxRBZcT9
— Snow Miser (@NathanWurtzel) December 31, 2019
You know, spouting easily disprovable lies isn't a good look, but I guess you're staying on brand here. https://t.co/ajvOnIALwk
— Physics Geek (@physicsgeek) December 31, 2019
Well, Ezra’s nothing if not consistent.