The short answer is “of course not.” And you don’t even have to work very hard to debunk it.
After the tragedy in El Paso, the media went absolutely berserk.
“The president cannot be absolved of responsibility for inciting the hatreds that led to El Paso,” read a New York Times piece. Democratic presidential contenders echoed this sentiment, with Beto O’Rourke saying Trump’s rhetoric “has a lot to do with” the shooting and Kamala Harris alleging that Trump was “tweeting out the ammunition” used by the El Paso shooter.
Blaming the words of controversial politicians for the acts of terrorists and lunatics without hard evidence is not new. However, a recent academic paper, reported on by numerous outlets before it went through the peer-review process, suggests that Trump actually is to blame.
What the…? Read on, Macduff:
Studying the effects of Trump’s many campaign rallies on reported hate incidents, three professors at the University of North Texas and Texas A&M—Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton, and Valerie Martinez-Ebers—claim that Trump rallies are associated with a 226 percent increase in such incidents.
Naturally, their study went viral. Vox, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and CNN all published articles reporting that Trump’s words are so bad that exposure to them leads to a wave of hate crimes.
What in the wide, wide, world of sports are those numbskulls saying?
Using the same data and statistical procedures as Feinberg et al., we replicated their study’s headline result. Since we did not have access to the original paper’s data and code, this involved collecting each of the variables mentioned in the original paper, and then independently performing the same analysis. Wherever possible, we copied the decisions that are mentioned in the original paper. Our headline results were very close to those reported in the original paper.
So Trump rallies really do increase “hate crimes”? In the immortal words of Defense Secretary Albert Nimziki from Independence Day, “that’s not entirely accurate”:
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?
As you can see, the left brings Mark Twain’s words to life: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” In this case, you have to ask are the professors that stupid? Or do they think that we are?
Trump makes use of the phrase “fake news” all too often. Many times, what he calls “fake news” is actually accurate reporting of his idiocy and ignorance.
But this is definitely one instance that Trump would be correct in calling out the media for reporting “fake news.” It’s not only “fake,” it’s an outright lie.