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World Net Daily Cries Foul On Wikipedia

Says editors blocking Obama citizenship entries

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As always, consider the source. In this case, consider the source considering another source. (If you want to be a stickler, you can include me in that consideration, a source considering a source considering another source. Ah, academics.) World Net Daily reports changes made to Wikipedia’s entry on Barack Obama regarding his citizenship issues were deleted within minutes, and users were banned after trying again.

UPDATE: I’ve written a postscript at the bottom of this piece, or you can click here to read.

World Net Daily—bastion of objectivity, fairness, and spinlessness—says Wikipedia’s overseers are blocking attempts to update the President’s profile to include questions about his birth certificate and his relationship to William Ayers and preacher Jeremiah Wright.

“Indeed, multiple times, Wikipedia users who wrote about the eligibility issues had their entries deleted almost immediately and were banned from re-posting any material on the website for three days,” writes Aaron Klein.

The bans were based, they were told, on violating “fringe theory” rules. After all, one can’t have an encyclopedia filled with conspiracy theories that can’t be backed up appropriately. In fairness, Klein does note that Wikipedia accepts fringe theories if widely documented by at least one major publication. In addition to World Net Daily’s own incessant “documentation,” the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other media outlets beat these stories to death during the election season without ever producing evidence or argument achieving purchase with the majority of conscientious observers.

Klein calls the Obama entry “mostly glowing” and compares it to George W. Bush’s “highly critical” entry. Both accounts appear upon examination to be factual; Obama’s suggests he’s a bastard, a former drug user, and a failure at quitting smoking. But if Obama’s entry is glowing and Bush’s paints him as less than perfect, it’s because the facts pretty straightforwardly paint them as such.

In fairness, the birth certificate controversy should be mentioned and debunked. The State of Hawaii confirmed Obama’s birth in the state in 1961, both with an authenticated certificate of live birth (which counts as documentation), and official state government decree. Those challenging the official ruling of an American state always have the burden to prove otherwise, which they have yet to produce—not that official government decrees are always to be trusted. Furthermore, a conservatively stacked US Supreme Court has thrown out challenges. Also in fairness, Wikipedia might mention the controversy in conjunction with John McCain’s birth in Panama, and note nobody seemed to have an issue with that unequivocal fact.

The editors have actually done a commendable job keeping Obama’s entry free from bias or unfounded claims from either side. If it’s glowing, it’s because Obama has led an admirable, exceptional, and intriguing life. The entry does imply Obama’s parents weren’t married when he was conceived: they married in Hawaii in February 1961, and Obama was born later in August.

So, do the math.

Jeremiah Wright is actually mentioned at this time, though spare on controversial details. The Ayers controversy is omitted, and really does deserve a sentence or two about the issue, one of which should end with John McCain’s more intimate (and proudly admitted) relationship with G. Gordon Liddy, who actually served prison time for his own brand of domestic terrorism, and who is not mentioned on John McCain’s Wikipedia entry. Perhaps the two cancel each other out. Ayers, who never went to jail, gets to teach college; Liddy gets his own nationally syndicated radio show. Call it even.

As for Bush’s “highly critical” article, Klein cites mentions of Bush’s admitted and documented alcohol abuse, how Bush suffered increasingly heated criticism after reelection, which is true, especially regarding his handling of Hurricane Katrina, which is true, and how in December 2007 the US entered one of the worst economic catastrophes since after WWII, also true.

It’s not unfair, unfounded, or untrue, and if not any of those things, it’s fact, not criticism.

Objectivity is extraordinarily difficult, and true objectivity verges on mythical status. Maintaining objectivity in user-generated narrative (narrative, I forever maintain, is all there really is) is a monumental task, and it appears the editors in this instance fear the type of subjectivity, bias, and agenda-driven, unsupportable, and unfair commentary routinely emanating from World Net Daily, which probably dislikes its own Wikipedia entry chronicling controversial inaccuracies, outrageous claims and incendiary remarks from the publication. Likely WND wishes it had the credibility Wikipedia has.

Which would you trust more? A publicly edited encyclopedia that is briefly and occasionally wrong but the editors of which aggressively monitor sources of information and cite them diligently at the bottom, or an openly slanted editorial site known for specious claims and vitriolic commentary the kind of which the American people rejected in the last two elections leading to a serious identity crisis within that particular political group?

Well, you choose.  It’s probably unfair to have Daily Kos and the Huffington Post writers in there editing, too. That’s part of the difficulty associated with considering sources.

 

Postscript To World Net Daily/Wikipedia Editorial

Maybe I was a little rough on World Net Daily

I wasn’t as objective as I could have been in this piece, which is an editorial, not, technically, an article. I’ve decided Wikipedia editors probably were too aggressive in blocking edits regarding Barack Obama controversies, but I still hold my other opinions firm. And as always, my views do not always reflect the views of WebProNews or iEntry, Inc. itself.

My personal belief is that objectivity is a lofty, admirable, optimistic, and impossible concept, and that some come closer to achieving it than others—Brian Williams stakes his entire persona on the idea that objectivity is possible, and that’s fine by me.

But I do believe everyone is biased, even when they’re trying not to be. It can’t be helped. No one can really, truly step outside of their own way of seeing the world. I also think that a differing opinion is not tantamount to slant, though many like to point to differences as a way to discredit immediately, and to their own holistic view detriment. I tend to think philosophies are prisons robbing of us any great view of reality. 

That’s a rather erudite point we don’t need to get into here, my bias against true objectivity which underlies my refusal to compromise how I truly feel. While I don’t believe in objectivity, I do believe in honesty, and I do feel I owe my readership honesty at all times. In this case, I told you how I really feel about World Net Daily (yick) and Barack Obama (whom I admire) and threw in some political commentary free of charge. You’re welcome and I’m sorry. For the record, I’m not a liberal; I’m ¾ utilitarianist and ¼ libertarian, which you might think is worse.

The point of this postscript is to acknowledge, in the name of transparency, that I could have been fairer to World Net Daily in examining their call to the carpet of Wikipedia editors. It’s not absurd to imagine that, like is understood about the majority of Digg users or popular California-based companies like Google or Web 2.0 digi-liberal crowd-sourcing true-believers, those dedicated to editing the information on Wikipedia are very interested in protecting the legacy of the sitting President.

In fact, it seems very likely, even outside of any “liberal media” mythologies. The editors in question have tossed out fairly presented, factual information about controversies surrounding Barack Obama. Entries on George W. Bush’s article are not devoid of controversial explorations, and we should call for goose-and-gander type good faith efforts. Mentioning Ayers, Wright, and birth certificate controversies are fair game when chronicling a Presidential legacy.

Instead of the goose-and-gander route, I went the pot-and-kettle route, which was to be appalled that one of the absolute least objective of sources (my opinion) was calling out Wikipedia for being biased. My opinion of the Obama article is that it is fair and incomplete, a viewpoint at odds with WND’s Aaron Klein, who thought it was “glowing” while Bush’s was “highly critical.” Bush’s could be much, much worse (especially if I had written it), and Obama’s could be much worse in either direction. I found Klein’s argument specious and inapt, but he was correct in identifying overly aggressive editing and banning.

It must be difficult to be the official arbiter of supposed objectivity and the guardian of a collective information source. Likely the editor didn’t want any mention of William Ayers because, and rightly so, guilt-by-association spurious, irrelevant claims shouldn’t be entertained in a perfect world, and neither should unsupported claims of improper documentation. But this isn’t an objective, perfect world, and if birth certificates and Ayers and Jeremiah Wright become legitimate enough that a certain amount of people become concerned, then they belong in the historical record, even if never proven. Case closed, a faint stain on an otherwise admirable legacy.

We’ve heard stories of a certain Russian queen and horses, how Mary Magdalene was a whore, and how we never really landed on the moon. That these things were ever seriously considered by a wide range of people justifies at least a mention.

And as for you humble writer, you can always count on him to shoot you straight, even if not to be completely objective, which to him is like asking him to be a tennis shoe or a bottle rocket.

 
 

World Net Daily Cries Foul On Wikipedia
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  • Chris

    Nice try, but why should documented and footnoted facts be purged from a Wikipedia entry? It sure sounds like they are trying to present the best possible spin on Obama’s article, which is not supposed to be their job.

    Certainly the Ayers and Wright stories are worthy of mention as they got mainstream coverage during the campaign. And the birth certificate issue, which is still unresolved, should be mentioned as well.

    I think I will go add those to Wikipedia and see if they get removed. If so, that will prove that WND is correct about this.

  • Guest

    In fact, Wikipedia *does* have a page devoted to the birth certificate and related claims — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_citizenship_conspiracy_theories.

    And one of the things it talks about is how WND published a story saying that its own experts had determined that the birth document that Obama posted on the web was authentic and that the forgery claims were bogus — and then published another one months later denying that they had ever said that.

    Last time I looked, both were still available online. You can compare for yourselves.

  • Robert NYC

    Wikipedia is in the tank for Obama as is this site. Obama has never proved citizenship. In fcat, a scandal arose when he posted a birth certificate online and bloggers immediately tore it apart as having been run off on a word processor – which were not available when he was born.

    What’s more – Obama has never produced college transcripts. Why not? Every other President in history that got elected and went to college – we have seen their transcripts.

    Why is Obama so full of secrets and lawyers to keep these secretes covered up?

    that should be on Wikipedia too. It is factual. Cases are pending in courts about it. If wikipedia does not detail them then they are being biased. period.

    • Jason Lee Miller

      This site is not in the tank for Obama. This writer, at times, is, but has also been critical where he has felt it is warranted (especially in regard to copyright law, FISA, and appointees). The publisher of this site would most certainly disagree about being in that tank, trust me, but he has the wisdom to let his writers write.

      Regardless of tanks, the certificate of live birth has been authenticated by more than one objective source, compared to other certificates, all of which the state of Hawaii has confirmed as legit, and the conservative-leaning Supreme Court has accepted. If someone wants to prove Obama was born in Kenya, let them, because the burden of proof is surely on them, a burden they have yet to convincingly carry. As for a father who was a British citizen disqualifying, then one supposes the first handful of presidents should have also been disqualified, and that Martin Van Buren, whose native language was Dutch, should have been also.

      I never have a problem with arguments or criticism. They just need to make sense and be backed up with fact. You can say Obama’s a Muslim Soviet Kenyan British implant if you like, but the burden of proof’s on you, and and once you’ve carried that burden, likely Wikipedia will publish it.

  • Guest

    LOL, Robert, it wasn’t that it “run off on a word processor” — it was that it was printed on a laser printer, which didn’t exist in 1961.

    That’s because the document was printed in 2007. It’s the same document that any Hawaiian citizen would get upon requesting a Birth Certificate from the Department of Health, and it is legal proof of the information it contains, like date and place of birth.

  • Guest

    Just get off the politics. This “artical”is full of political bias from the author, something that doesn’t have any place on this site.

    And yes, its been proven, the press is very much in Obama’s camp. don’t make it appear otherwise.

    Not that I care either way, I just want to see search and web news here. not politics.

    • Guest

      Sorry, but bias is in the eye of the beholder.

      It seems to me that the article treats fairly the question of how a site like Wikipedia ought to handle fringe theories. Of course the results are likely to displease members of the fringe; and Jason is correct to say that claims need to be weighed on the strength of the evidence backing them up.

      I’m sure there’s no way to handle it that will please 100% of the people. But on the birth certificate question, there’s an overwhelming majority that considers the fringe claims to be — at best — unproved.

    • Guest

      Please show us where it has been proven the press is in Obama’s camp. Is it the News Corp-owned Fox, NY Post, Wall Street Journal, Weekly Standard press? The all conservative all the time talk radio press? The CNBC Obama’s killing the economy press? The CBS where’s Obama’s flagpin press? The predominantly conservative blogosphere press? The I-voted-for-Bush Meet-the-Press-Press? The McCain “the press is my constituency” press? The GE-owned give-our-boys-in-the-Whitehouse a free pass press? The corporate mega-giant conglomerate entertainment press? The Pentagon-supplied expert quoting press? The let’s-not-question-Bush-and-Cheney-too-much-for-a-while press? Or the everybody-who-criticizes-conservatives-is-automatically-liberal press?

      Come on. The American people watched what happened in the election, considered ridiculous arguments coming from every conservative media corner, and backed something else. You lost. Plain and simple.

      Not that the Democrats are any friggin good at all. They were just better than what we had.

      My two cents.

      • Guest

        Watch the news, read the newspapers.

        Your intelligent. Figure it out.

        I’m not here to defend my position. I’m not going to scream and carry on and stomp my feet on the floor trying to convince anyone of the positions I hold. Its a matter of common sense. If you need me to point you to people who will tell you what to think, I wont. Look for yourself.

        Have a nice day.

        • Guest

          Absolutely.

          Trouble is, we’re no more likely to agree on what qualifies as “common sense” as we were on what constitutes “bias.”

          Which is why I once more endorse Jason’s call for evidence.

          • Guest

            Again, I will not point anyone to anything specific.Use your own common sense. Common sense in this case is defined as something blatantly obvious , which should be looked at as it is without any sort of linguistic gymnastics to present it as otherwise.

            Thats is it. A dead horse is dead, no matter how you try to hide that fact.

            As far as those making assumptions on who I voted for, you’d be surprised. As I said I base my convictions on common sence not what the media, good or bad, tries to portray.

            This is not a political debate forum. and this article,as presented even with the thinly veiled apology,does not belong here IN MY OPINION. Which is worth very little in the grand scheme of things I suppose, but it is what it is.

  • http://dofollow001.com/ AndyW

    “The entry does imply Obama

  • Adam C. Sierack

    In the twilight of the Rebublican Presidency, the Bush FCC decided to open up ‘whitespace’ (TV spectrum between analogue stations) to broadband internet use. This was probably more of a poke-in-the-eye to the Democrats’ funding base than any act of altuism. The National Association of Broadcasters, who stand to lose BILLIONS over this decision, had the expected conniption. The Obama Administration has already delayed the changeover to digital TV and I suspect that the Obama FCC will eventually hand the spectrum over to the Democrats’ NAB masters. Remember: the reason that the ‘liberal’ media in the U.S. (and all the entertainment glitterati) are so gushy over Obama is that they FUNDED HIM.

    • Guest

      “Remember: the reason that the ‘liberal’ media in the U.S. (and all the entertainment glitterati) are so gushy over Obama is that they FUNDED HIM.”

      Right, just like the ‘conservative’ media funded McCain.

      The difference is, Obama won.

  • Guest

    I have previously enjoyed your articles on WebProNews. This, as you admit, is an editorial. The site’s “About Us” page states that the site offers “analysis of developments in the online business space, and tutorials and insight into how to build a better online presence.” If those of us in the online business space want to read blatantly biased political postings, we can go to the appropriate sites. And I imagine that there are others who, like me, will now look to other sites for our “analysis of developments in the online business space,” since (in my opinion) this site has shown that this is not the appropriate site for such content.

    • Rich Ord

      Jason noted in his postscript that this story was leaning toward an editorial. I think that was fair to both sides of this story. Personally, I believe that Wikipedia power users tilt liberal and that’s why perceived negative comments are being edited out. Hopefully, we will find out the truth at some point.

      Keep reading and commenting, nothing will be edited here at WebProNews!

      Thanks,

      Rich Ord
      CEO, iEntry, Inc.
      Publisher of WebProNews

  • Wikidemon

    As a regular editor on the Obama article and others I am disappointed but not surprised to see Klein take cheap potshots at Wikipedia to advance his pet conspiracy theory. Like others of his ilk he seems to be in the business of promoting himself by disparaging other media, and it was only a matter of time that he chose Wikipedia as a target.

    A quick look at what actually happened shows that Klein was either very sloppy, deliberately misleading, or worse, in suggesting that “Jerusalem21″ was blocked from editing for trying to tell the truth about Obama.

    Wikipedia is utterly transparent: every single article edit, discussion, policy, editor, etc., is kept forever. Nothing every disappears. Anyone – you, me, Klein, Mr. Miller – can find out exactly what happened. So here’s what happened:

    * Jerusalem21 is among a group of several that accounts have existed on the encyclopedia since mid-2006 to do nothing but make similar edits to the Aaron Klein article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Jerusalem21). Jerusalem21 in fact created the Klein article, in a promotional tone inappropriate for an encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Aaron_Klein&diff=prev&oldid=44070742). These accounts, some known to be operating out of Israel, have long been suspected by some to be Klein himself, editing his own article.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:Jerusalem21)

    This is a pattern experienced editors recognize as a “sock farm” – a series of fake accounts created by a single editor to hoax the encyclopedia. This practice is one of the most destabilizing to the encyclopedia because it permits people with agendas to force bogus material into the encyclopedia by creating a false sense of support, and also “edit warring” – winning disputed edit contests through force of numbers. It is the online equivalent of vote fraud.

    After never editing any article other than Aaron Klein, one day out of the blue Jerusalem21 added three bogus edits in quick succession to the encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Barack_Obama&diff=prev&oldid=273005478, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Barack_Obama&diff=prev&oldid=273007642, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Barack_Obama&diff=prev&oldid=273011023). It is clearly disparaging material of a fringe nature claiming that Obama’s citizenship was in doubt because he may have been born in Kenya, cited to Klein’s publication, World News Daily. The other tried to reinsert some old contentious material about Bill Ayers, the “domestic terrorist” Obama was “palling around with” (per Sarah Palin).

    The Ayers story is its own smear, and a number of respectable Obama opponents believed it – though, through long process the Wikipedia editors decided to relegate it to its own article. The theory about Obama being a non-citizen because he was born in Kenya and has a forged birth certificate, that one convinces only the kooky and the gullible. More saliently it has never convinced any court or “reliable source” (i.e. unbiased, credible, mainstream news source or other reputable publication). Klein further misrepresented that “Jerusalem21″ was resting on the Chicago Tribune – that paper was cited only for the proposition that the courts had dismissed these claims outright.

    When Jerusalem21 pulled that stunt the account was quickly disabled for three days, and some speculated it should be forever because it was likely a fake account. There have been many fake accounts editing the Obama article to insert disparaging nonsense, particularly during the election.

    What we have here is not Wikipedia suppressing the truth, but a responsible project doing exactly what it should do: writing articles based on real sources rather than partisan hacks, and guarding against hacking. It seems that the victim here, if there is any, is Wikipedia, and the truth, not the obviously fake user who got caught in the act.

    We will probably know soon enough whether Jerusalem21 was Klein himself – if so he has disproven his own point that it is easy to spoof the encyclopedia. If it is not him, it is still a severe ethical lapse that he did not disclose his connection to the account, and he has some explaining to do about why he missed the real issue – a fake account who likes to edit his own article getting caught – and tried to pawn this off as a liberal conspiracy.

    What’s most disheartening is the gullibility of some of the public in accepting partisan nonsense when the truth is right in front of their keyboard. Anyone can dig this up. Fox News can dig this up. Jason, if you had tried a little harder you would have found it.

    It isn’t a scoop anymore at this point, though. Wired has already found the hoax. http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/03/wikigate-1.html

  • Jak

    Jason here has proven he’s a left wing fascist, like so many other media goons. This guy has lost all credibilty in the eyes of may WPN readers. I’m going to blog about WPN now and use the exact same phrase Jason Goon Boy used here about WND: “Consider the source”. Now I see that WPN is just as left wing as the rest of the leftist nut cases on the net. No reason to read this guy in the future.

  • Guestwhite tiger

    “… a conservatively stacked US Supreme Court…”?
    That pelosian perspective permeates and poisons the piece.
    When the reprobate in the White house filed for office he asserted, by filing, that he was eligible. When you go to the polls and ask for a ballot you are asserting that you are eligible to vote.
    The burden of proof lies on the asserter.

    The babykiller-perversion promoter in DC has hidden all his records because they will expose him. But over 60,000,000 “americans” made him the most powerful man in the world knowing him to be an amoral, communist, america-hating, racist liar and traitor.

    They deserve the total destruction he will inflict upon them. Unfortunately, those of us who recognized and resisted his evil rise to power will suffer even more. The Republic has been dead for over two months, and the stench is sickening.

  • O.A. Manno

    I am not a political person. I vote for neither Obama or McCain. However, I have been hearing all sorts of propaganda about this man in the white House since he took office. Why? I ask! I believe it’s because he’s half black (considered black()–The man is doing a good job so far. The main criticism is that he’s going to make this country a “socialistic country.” Roosevelt put in social security–there is Govt health care now that senior citizens enjoy without which we’d be more broke than we are. What’s the big beef? There is no sense to these criticisms. They paint the man as Hitler–which he’s not–or a communist–stop it! Enough of your mud-slinging!
    Wake up people and hear the birdie sing. You are being led by the nose as asses are–to quote a well known playwright. I will guarantee you this–that if the health plan gets approved by both houses and the insurance companies are not involved you will thank Obama for getting you coverage that you will have needed. As it is it seems I’m dreaming because I’m told that the insurance companies are going to “rake it in” was the phrase used. Good luck people.

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