Popular YouTuber Matt Christiansen decided to test how much scrutiny journalists apply to reports of hate crimes after he saw a tweet by a Mic.com writer requesting stories of Trump-inspired attacks on people of color, Muslims or LGBTQ people.
The writer, Sarah Harvard, Tweeted: “If you’re a person of color, Muslim, and/or LGBTQ, and have been attacked by a Trump supporter. DM/email me.”
“Safe space,” she added.
Christiansen, who is a conservative/libertarian YouTuber known for criticizing PC culture on his channel, then asked a friend to write a fictitious story about a white man who threatened a Native American woman after mistaking her for a Mexican.
I feel like I look like a white person today!!!! pic.twitter.com/dz79PVqcj1
— Sarah A. Harvard ✨ (@amyharvard_) November 22, 2016
In the story, the man then justified his aggressiveness by saying “white is right.” They emailed the story to Harvard, using a fake name and email with the subject line “aggressive Trump supporter.”
The full email to Mic journalist Sarah Harvard read:
I was leaving Starbucks when i got bumped at the door by a trump supporter. I ended spilling latte on myself but he gave me the glare like I did wrong. I said “you can at least say sorry” and he replied “just walk away and be lucky that coffee is the only thing of yours that spills. you shouldn’t even be in this country, and you wont be for long”. He must have thought I was Mexican because I am dark, but I am Native American. I told him so and that we were actually here first. His reply was “doesn’t matter. white is right” and pushed by me.
Within hours of this email, Harvard posted the story on her Twitter account, without asking any additional questions about the story to verify its authenticity.
After Harvard tweeted out the hoax story, the pranksters contacted her again to point out that she has no idea whether the man in the fake story is actually a Trump supporter. The email reads:
I was talking to a friend about this incident and she brought up a good point. I don’t have any way to confirm that the guy in my story was a Trump supporter. I assume he was because he was a rude white male, but there is no way to know who he really voted for.
Despite that, and even after Christiansen himself told the journalist he faked the incident and described in detail in his podcast how he did it, Harvard still let the story and her Tweet stand without admitting any mistakes.
Heat Street has approached Harvard for a comment.