The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

06 December 2005

Internet Accuracy Disputed


Former Kennedy Aide Furious, Conservatives Also Get Hit

When researching Internet information, does anyone really expect one hundred percent accurate results? Don't most people realize it's often full of unintentional, or even malicious statements about others?

Particularly for those in the public eye, I'm amazed at the shock expressed over misleading and false characterizations. Are they new to the 'Net? That's why John Seigenthaler's intense public outrage over his inaccurate Wikipedia entry is especially bizarre:

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia to which anyone can contribute, is tightening submission rules after a prominent journalist complained that an article falsely implicated him in the Kennedy assassinations.

Wikipedia will now require users to register before they can create articles, Jimmy Wales, founder of the St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Web site, said Monday. People who modify existing articles will still be able to do so without registering.

The change comes less than a week after John Seigenthaler, a one-time administrative assistant to Robert Kennedy, complained in an op-ed published in USA Today that a biography of him on Wikipedia claimed he had been suspected in the assassinations of the former attorney general and his brother, President John F. Kennedy.

Wikipedia, often cited as a prime example of the type of collective knowledge-pooling that the Internet enables, has some 850,000 articles in English as well as entries in at least eight other languages, including Italian, French, German and Portuguese.

Since it's launch in 2001, it has grown into a storehouse of information on topics ranging from medieval art to nanotechnology.

The volume is possible because the site relies on volunteers, including many experts in their fields, who submit entries and edit previously submitted articles.

Wales said he hopes the registration requirement will limit the number of articles being created. (Seattle Times/ AP)

If he really wants a proper perspective on malicious statements, Mr. Seigenthaler might care to check out some of the sleazy message board chatter aimed at yours truly. Almost entirely inaccurate, I have little recourse, except to continue the Air America investigation that clearly drives them nuts.

While Wikipedia can be useful as a research starting point, it shouldn't be taken as gospel. Wouldn't Siegenthaler's best course of action, however, have been to first ask for entry corrections?

Wikipedia biographical articles seem to be created either by an individual's biggest fans, or most bitter enemies. In addition, despite being open to input from anyone, there have been allegations of an overall liberal bias in the resulting stories.

Used by mean-spirited critics to launch personal attacks, Michelle Malkin's entry provides one of the all-time best examples. In addition, Malkin's enemies work to downplay her accomplishments by removing passages related to career highlights. Sometimes they are later restored, such as the paragraph related to our Air America Radio investigation.

Most Wikipedia entries have discussion pages, that's where Malkin's detractors really become "unhinged".

Another notorious Wikipedia article is Bill O'Reilly's, a lengthy, mostly negative hit piece on the FOX News Channel host. Also not to be missed is one for Rush Limbaugh.

My piece is here, somehow I've now become an "American conspiracy theorist". The Wikipedia term for this is "vandalism".

Some major bloggers don't yet have personal entries, including "Captain" Ed Morrissey of Captain's Quarters. Powerline's Scott Johnson is found here, and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit here.

In the Air America scandal entry, Michelle and I have been completely stripped away, as though we had no role in breaking this story. After months of very hard work, I think we have the right to object to this rewrite of history.

In fact, Air America fans actually petitioned to have the entire piece removed, hoping the truth could be surpressed, but this was recently rejected by Wikipedia.

On the flip side, liberals closely guard articles about Al Franken, Air America Radio, Janeane Garofalo and others, keeping to a minimum any recognition of their detractors, especially in Franken's case.

What we can do is monitor these stories and edit out false information. Would you be willing to help? All of these entries are overdue for significant scrutiny. Please be sure to back any additions with links to sources and keep personal opinions out of the entries.

Keep me posted on your participation and the responses it generates. Warning: to take on some of these slithering creatures, you'll quickly need to develop a strong skin.

UPDATE: BBC coverage of Wikipedia flap

Welcome Instapundit readers

Reference to myself as "American conspiracy theorist" just removed by Wikipedia.

UPDATE: Blogger La Shawn Barber's had a similar Wikipedia experience:

"When I found out, I asked them to remove the entry unless they deleted a link to what I considered a libelous "anti-La Shawn" blog. They refused. There was a big controversy over the entry, and a swarm of voting to delete ensued," Barber says.

"Unfortunately the 'Keep' side won. I asked them again to remove the entry or the link once again. They refused. They even quote one of my blog posts on Islamic terrorism in their 'Islamophobia' entry!

"Their reference entries for things like the Star Wars movies and the Harry Potter series are great; their entries on political subjects are atrocious."

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Image: Wikipedia


  • Gar-awful-low is both hard on the ears and hard on the eyes. Wikipedia is merely a graffiti wall when it comes to biographies and historical events.

    By Blogger twin_daddy, at 06 December, 2005 15:09  

  • I'm not sure that having more pov warriors is the best way to fix wikipedia

    By Blogger Windie, at 06 December, 2005 17:05  

  • the above is vague.

    To be more precise, people coming in to 'fix' wikipedia with no interest beyond their small political interest are generally really disruptive, and, to be honest, poor contributers.

    They're coming in with a chip on their shoulder, looking for trouble, and its just ugly

    By Blogger Windie, at 06 December, 2005 17:06  

  • "In the Air America scandal entry, Michelle and I have been completely stripped away, as though we had no role in breaking this story. After months of very hard work, I think we have the right to object to this rewrite of history."

    Wrong. A local Bronx newspaper broke the Evan Cohen story. It was picked up by the NY Sun, and you and unhinged pretend you did some real investigative work on this nonstory.

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 06 December, 2005 20:08  

  • But Dick, don't you remember all those blog reports? BLOG REPORTS! hahaha

    Posting poorly made graphics and quoting the NY Sun, NY Post, and Washington Times does not make you a journalist of any kind.

    By Blogger Mr. Kite, at 06 December, 2005 20:20  

  • Go find a bunch of home-schoolers to guard over your Wikipedia entry. They are cheap and they usually need some daily homework to keep themselves busy and perpetually indoctrinated.

    By Blogger WHT, at 06 December, 2005 21:00  

  • Based on one of the revisions in the Maloney page, someone has some serious problems.

    WP definitely needs people with a POV, just as long as they back it up with facts. NPOV means that all sides should be represented, not just the usual case where it's mostly "liberal".

    By Blogger LonewackoDotCom, at 06 December, 2005 23:00  

  • Dick and Mr. Kite are rewriting history, for some reason liberals don't want Michelle and I to get credit for our work.

    For the record, this is the timeline:

    -- Bronx News piece in early July with preliminary details of Gloria Wise scandal. Ignored by everybody, not picked up by newspapers or blogs

    -- one sentence at the bottom of a story in the NY Daily News indicating Air America's role, in late July, also ignored by nearly everyone. NY Daily News never wrote another word about the scandal, that I'm aware of.

    -- combining those two reports with an insider tip, I wrote the blogosphere's first story on July 26th. Michelle joined the effort the next day.

    -- NY Sun stories came later. On several instances, our stories were published before the Sun's on the same topics.

    By Blogger Brian Maloney, at 07 December, 2005 02:04  

  • You can argue about who said what first about Air America. But the fact is that Wikipedia is being cited more and more often as a definitive source, esp. by the left, when it is not.

    So, you get the equivalent of someone arguing that Malkin hates the fact that she is Asian or hates herself because of her race, and, see, look at this Wikipedia entry to prove the point.

    What everyone has to keep in mind is that Wikipedia is a good starting place on a lot of subjects. But you often need to go to the underlying material - and you often need Google for that because when Wikipedia is slanted, a lot of the relevant links are also missing.

    In the end, what matters for controversial subjects on Wikipedia is how hard one side tries to make its views known. And that is why it will never be a reputable source for such.

    By Blogger Bruce Hayden, at 07 December, 2005 04:15  

  • Let me rephrase that last line - I meant "definitive" and not "reputable". The later is somewhat problematic. I think the former is more accurate.

    By Blogger Bruce Hayden, at 07 December, 2005 04:18  

  • Wikipedia is in much more trouble. A few days ago Adam Curry, the Podfather was caught anonymously changing the entry for Podcasting to edit out others and to boost his own role in the creation of podcasting. You can read the whole story here: There was a huge outcry, still going on. Adam Curry was the second most searched for word on Technorati the past few days.

    By Blogger Frank, at 07 December, 2005 05:05  

  • "Dick and Mr. Kite are rewriting history, for some reason liberals don't want Michelle and I to get credit for our work."

    What work? What independent investigation did you do? All you did was quote other peoples' work, and spin it.

    By Blogger Dick Tuck, at 07 December, 2005 08:36  

  • Some thoughts regarding online malice in reader comments threads can be found here:
    Unreliability in the blogosphere may be common, but should it be the norm?

    By Blogger ex-democrat, at 07 December, 2005 10:35  

  • seriously, I don't know how much time you folks spend on wikipedia, but this 'blog-controversy' on it is really old news, altho' its interesting to see them picking up something for people to be mad at.

    Thats what this screams to me, especially with conservative blogs suddenly becoming 'aware of the problem' all over the place.

    Just another manufactured outrage.

    By Blogger Windie, at 07 December, 2005 17:17  

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