A recent graphically violent parody video of President Donald Trump shown at a conference for his supporters went viral over the Internet. Scholars, however, have determined even before the video and hate-inciting reports of the fake video vilifying Trump, that big media are often biased and quick to jump to conclusions to report Democratic contenders who believe that Trump’s exaggerated rhetoric is to blame.
The White House Correspondents Association said in a statement that it was “horrified” to see the video.
“The WHCA is horrified by a video reportedly shown over the weekend at a political conference organized by the President’s supporters at the Trump National Doral in Miami,” the statement read. “All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the President’s political opponents.”
The video was played at a three-day conference at the president’s Doral resort in Miami, hosted by the pro-Trump organization American Priority. A campaign spokesman for Trump said that the president had no knowledge about the video. The White House press secretary said in a tweet on Monday that Trump had not seen the video, but “strongly condemns” it based on its description.
The footage of the video in question appears to be a climactic, hyperviolent scene from a 2014 movie, “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” edited with the president’s face superimposed on the protagonist’s in the clip. In the disturbing video, the fake Trump is depicted as a murderer who massacred victims whose faces were replaced by faces of other politicians, journalists, and the logos of media outlets.
Reason’s contributors Matthew Lilley and Brian Wheaton, Economics Ph.D. students at Harvard University, produced a detailed analysis report explaining why Trump rallies are not the cause behind the increase in hate crimes, as opposed to what the big media reports.
The authors pointed out that Democratic contenders are quick to condemn Trump’s rhetoric, and that popular media outlets are often biased in their reports.
According to the authors, three professors at the University of North Texas and Texas A&M – Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton, and Valerie Martinez-Ebers have studied the effects of Trump’s many campaign rallies on reported hate incidents, and came up with a “226 percent increase in such incidents.” This however, was re-analyzed by the authors and found to be false.
Using the same data and statistical procedures as Feinberg et al., the authors replicated the study to analyze the effect of Hillary Clinton’s campaign rallies using the identical statistical framework. “The ostensible finding,” the authors wrote: “Clinton rallies contribute to an even greater increase in hate incidents than Trump rallies.”
“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,” the authors explained. “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 authors analyzed. “The study is wrong, and yet journalists ran with it anyway.”
“In principle, this need not have much impact outside academia. A neutral press, acting as a gatekeeper, need not report unquestioningly about every unpublished study,” Lilley and Wheaton wrote, citing Politico, “However, like academics, journalists as a profession are overwhelmingly liberal, with four times as many reporters identifying as Democrats than as Republicans.”
The authors for Reason also pointed out that, it is difficult for one to find errors in results something that deep down they want to be true, adding that “the ideological imbalance of academia – where liberals outnumber conservatives six to one” can worsen the problem.
“While claims deemed conservative may receive much scrutiny, those that comport with liberal sensibilities are more likely to go unscrutinized,” the authors wrote.
“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.”
“Trump’s critics risk committing the very error they decry,” the authors concluded, suggesting that news organizations shouldn’t blame Trump for his rhetoric but permit themselves to do so.
The New York Times contributor Charlie Warzel dedicated an opinion piece detailing how the violent video about Trump is “dumb” and “far more ridiculous than our imaginations can ever predict.”
Warzel criticized the edited clip for diverting America’s attention from the more important issues at hand, and that the video is irrelevant in this world.
“Given all of today’s high-stakes political issues – an impeachment inquiry, chaos in the Middle East, censorship in China – it seems in some ways that the video belongs in a different universe.”