Vox editor rings in 2020 by spreading ‘thoroughly debunked’ story in viral tweet

Peter Hasson, DCNF 

(Photo by Jim Bennett/WireImage)

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.

“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.

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.

Vox didn’t return a request for comment on whether Klein would correct the misinformation.

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