Wikipedia Whacks the Right
Democrat Christopher Coons raised taxes at least three times as New Castle County’s executive. As a 21-year-old, he penned an article, “The Bearded Marxist,” in which he abandoned the U.S.’s great free-enterprise system. This month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid referred to the Delaware politician, who is running against Republican Christine O’Donnell, as his “pet.”
But check his page in Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia from which reporters and pundits get instant information and put it out in the media stream.
There is no mention of Coons and tax increases, or of him being Reid’s pet. In fact, his Wikipedia entry has no narrative of any controversy during his political career. Concerning his Marxist leanings, Wikipedia mentions the column, but does not reproduce it, nor does it have any criticism of it.
Republicans face a Wiki-gap as the Nov. 2 mid-term elections near. Conservatives have long complained of Wikipedia’s liberal bias that infects voters with unflattering profiles of their candidates. Wikipedia is written by the public, and edited by, among others, founder Jimmy Wales, who touts his creation as the world’s largest encyclopedia.
He told a PBS interviewer, “I would say that the Wikipedia community is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population on average, because we are global and the international community of English speakers is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population.”
Some have warned the Right that it needs to mobilize a counter-wiki to blunt all the negative items on conservatives that end up online. One activist did just that, starting “Conservapedia” to balance Wikipedia’s love of the theory of global warming and other Left causes.
Canadian columnist Lawrence Solomon, a prominent global-warming skeptic, says, “Wikipedia is in the hands of the zealots.”
He wrote in The National Post two years ago that he made entries to correct mistakes on a Wiki page about a leading advocate of warming. Each time, his entry was removed by editors—within minutes. (Wiki entries are written by the public, subject to Wiki editors.)
There is no balance in Wikipedia’s treatment of Coons vs. O’Donnell. While Coons has a near-pristine career, according to Wikipedia, O’Donnell’s page contains one controversy after another.
O’Donnell’s entry appears to be about ten times longer. It is filled with various controversies in her career, but little talk of achievements. It extensively lists her conservative positions on torch-hot issues such as abortion and English-only. The goal is clear: anger the Left and moderates.
Coons’ Wikipedia page contains no list of campaign positions. His political life is free of controversy.
Check out another Tea Party-backed candidate, Republican Joe Miller, a West Point and Harvard Law School graduate who defeated Alaska’s current senator, Lisa Murkowski, in the GOP primary. She is now running as a write-in candidate.
Like O’Donnell’s page, Miller’s contains a long list of virtually all his supposed conservative positions, a Wikipedia tactic meant to shock the electorate and has lots of controversial stuff about the Tea Party.
Now, check out the Wikipedia page for Miller’s Democratic opponent, Scott McAdams. McAdams has been in politics most of this decade as a school board member and mayor of the city of Sitka.
There are three brief paragraphs. No list of campaign positions. No controversies during his run against three other party members. Another pristine Democrat graces a page of Wikipedia.
Because Wikipedia is driven by liberal-leaning contributors, entries for conservatives often come from the mainstream media—New York Times, Washington Post, major networks, et al.
Since these news organizations criticize, investigate and scrutinize conservative Republicans much more often than they do Democrats, the pool of negative, thought not always accurate data is skewed.
A pollster who monitors news coverage nationwide told HUMAN EVENTS he rarely sees a negative story on any Democrat running in a contested race for Congress.
Meanwhile, a Tea Party-backed candidate such as Rand Paul, who is running for the Senate from Kentucky, gets numerous negative stories. One questioned why he was certified by a certain medical group, as opposed to a competing group, in ophthalmology even though he has been practicing medicine for years—and apparently very well. Not much fodder there, yet the no-story was repeated by the national press for days.
In Nevada, Senate Republican candidate Sharron Angle’s Wikipedia page is filled with nearly every controversy cooked up the by media and exploited by her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Many of Angle’s supposed campaign positions are listed in edited, even flip, manner, with little context.
Her Wikipedia photograph is grainy and distorted, as if Reid, who is shown focused and smiling on his page, had chosen it.
Wikipedia’s Reid entry, like his photograph, is generally positive, though it does repeat some negative events in his political life. It ignores the fact he called President George W. Bush a “loser.” He later apologized to Bush, but apparently never apologized for saying it is easier to be a Christian as a Democrat than as a Republican.
By the way, here is how Wikipedia, which bills itself as balanced and fair, describes competitor Conservapedia in its Wiki page:
“Conservapedia is an English-language wiki project written from an American conservative Fundamentalist Christian viewpoint. It uses editorials and a wiki-based system to generate content. It was started in 2006 by homeschool teacher and attorney Andy Schlafly, son of conservative Catholic activist Phyllis Schlafly, to counter what he called the liberal bias of Wikipedia The project has generally received negative reactions from the mainstream media, as well as from various figures from both ends of the political spectrum, including commentators and journalists. It has been criticized for bias and inaccuracies.”
Conservatives might say: We rest our case.