To begin my search for a piece to fact-check, I typed ‘recent study’ into the Google search bar. After six pages of news articles, I stumbled upon Washington Post’s article “Counties that Hosted a 2016 Trump Rally Saw a 226 Percent Increase in Hate Crimes.” I picked this article for several reasons. First, it is an interesting and relevant concept. I have always wondered how Trump’s rhetoric has affected US cities and towns. Another reason I chose this article was because of its vague and possibly misleading headline. Without reading the entire article, I could not wrap my head around what exactly this headline means.
Before I read the article, I wanted to briefly read laterally about the Washington Post. Learning about the source that published news is important because it helps the reader judge the accuracy and bias of the information that is presented. First, I went to AllSides to check on the source’s bias. The Washington Post is rated as leaning left and a majority of AllSide’s viewers agree with that rating. Next, to continue reading laterally, I went to the Washington Post’s Wikipedia page found here. After going upstream on some of the links on the Wikipedia page, I found that the Washington Post endorses mostly Democratic candidates although they do occasionally endorse Republicans. For example in this article from 2006, the Washington Post endorses a Republican Virginian Congressman. This article states that the Post has endorsed many Republicans over the years for roles in the House, Senate, or as governor. However, they have only ever endorsed Democrats in presidential elections. As a reader, this shows me that the Post is fair and willing to look at both sides of the argument, although they do lean democratically when looking at the big picture.
With all this information in mind, I went back to the article. In this article, authors Ayal Feinberg and Regina Branton make the argument that Trump’s words and actions may be contributing to a rise in white nationalism in the country. Although Trump has publicly opposed these claims in the past, Feinberg and Branton claim to have research that backs up their idea. In fact, they are presenting their own research which they cite here. I went upstream and clicked the link they provided which took me to Western Political Science Association. Looking further, I found that Feinberg and Branton presented their research at the Western Political Science Association’s panel on Trump and Race which took place on April 18, 2019. However, this link that was meant to cite their research provides no link to an actual paper or transcript of the presentation. What I could find from this link was the name of their paper which is “The Trump Effect? Political Rallies and Hate Crime Contagion.” Despite several Google searches, I could not find a copy of the paper anywhere. This could mean that the paper has not been approved to be published in any well-known online journals yet or they have no intention of doing so. Either way, I felt it was a bit odd to not cite the full paper anywhere in the article.
Since I do not have access to the actual paper, I still want to work with what I do have. I do not want to discredit the fact that they were able to present their research at the Western Political Science Association’s 2019 panel. Given that I do not know anything about that organization, I wanted to read laterally to find out how reputable it was. To do so, I went on their Wikipedia page found here. From reading that page, I found that