Friday, February 01, 2008

Wikipedia Continues To Sanitize Bush Content

By MARC MCDONALD

Wikipedia, the massively popular online encyclopedia, claims that its "content must be written from a neutral point of view."

But after comparing Wikipedia's main articles on Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, you could have fooled us. These days, some of Wikipedia's content looks like it was written by Fox News.

For example, Wikipedia's main Bill Clinton article manages to mention every single fringe right-wing nutcase allegation ever made against the 42nd president.

By contrast, the main Wikipedia article on George W. Bush has been carefully sanitized. It clearly aims to present Bush in the most favorable light possible. Frankly, the Bush article looks like a love letter from Karl Rove.

(Note that we're talking about the main, high-profile Wikipedia Clinton and Bush articles---so this is indeed an apples-to-apples comparison).

I realize that Wikipedia offers fluid, dynamic content and is technically open to edits by anyone and everyone. Right-wing bias in articles is open to correction by progressive contributors (and vice-versa).

But it's clear that in the battle to edit the main Clinton and Bush pages, the right-wing contributors are winning (and have been winning for a long time).

For example, the main Wikipedia article on Clinton includes a massive, seven-part "Controversies" section.

By contrast, no "Controversies" section exists in the Bush article (although there is a two-part "Criticism and public perception" section).

One thing that recently caught my eye in the Clinton "Controversies" section was the "Sexual Misconduct Allegations" headline. The section discusses claims of sexual misconduct made by Kathleen Willey and Juanita Broaddrick. The section also includes links to other Wiki articles that discuss the allegations in great detail.

If Wikipedia was free of bias, one might think that the main Bush article would include at least a mention of the Margie Schoedinger sexual assault allegation against Bush.

And just who is Margie Schoedinger?

She was a 38-year-old Texas woman who filed a sexual assault lawsuit against George W. Bush in December 2002.

Oh, and there's one other interesting detail: the next year, Schoedinger was found dead of a gunshot wound.

Let's imagine for one moment if a woman had filed a sexual assault lawsuit against Clinton---and let's say that woman was found shot to death a year later.

Do you think the mainstream media would ignore such a story?

I think we all know goddamn well the answer to that. The fact is, the media would give such a story around-the-clock, saturation coverage that would make the Monica Lewinsky media frenzy look tame by comparison.

But instead, the Schoedinger case was completely ignored by the U.S. media, with the sole exception of the small local Texas newspaper (The Fort Bend Star) that originally reported the story. Her case remains extremely obscure. To this day, very few people have ever heard of her.

Wikipedia gives coverage to unproven sexual allegations in its main Clinton article. But in the main Wikipedia article on Bush, there is zero mention of the Schoedinger case.

I recently got a taste of just how protective Wikipedia is of Bush, when I tried to raise this issue on the site. (Note that I wasn't even trying to edit the main Wikipedia Bush article--I was merely raising the issue in the "Discussion" forum).

I typed a brief post in the forum, raising this issue.

Within 30 seconds, my text was removed from the discussion forum. I then re-entered the post and it was promptly deleted again.

Bear in mind, all I was asking for was equal treatment in Wikipedia's coverage of Bush and Clinton. I certainly wasn't asking for any special treatment, or even (gasp!) a mention of, say, the Valerie Plame case or the Downing Street memo.

Neither issue, of course, gets the slightest mention in the main Bush article. As I mentioned previously, since Wikipedia's content is fluid and dynamic, the situation may have changed by the time you read this. But if that's the case, you can be assured that such content won't survive long on the Wiki articles before it is deleted by Bush supporters.

I can't say that I'm really surprised by Wikipedia's kid-glove, Fox News-like treatment of Bush. It's clear that the Bush worshiping cultists will do anything to protect the image of their hero. Clearly, these people will stop at nothing to sanitize Wikipedia's content on Bush.

In the aftermath of this episode, I guess the only thing that baffles me is how Wikipedia can continue to claim with a straight face to be a reference resource with a "neutral point of view."

14 comments:

Cranky Daze said...

That's a pretty upsetting article about Ms. Schoedinger, Marc. This is the first I've heard about it, and it's kind of scary to think that as huge as the main stream media is, only one obscure newspaper has even mentioned the lawsuit. Makes me wonder if they're trying to protect Bush, or if they're afraid?

I get a catalog a couple of times a month from an online bookstore where I buy books, and I've seen books advertised that appear to suggest that the Bush family has been involved in some pretty unsavory activities over the years, but I've never ordered one of them. I guess I feel like I know as much about George Bush as I need to know, which is that he is a very bad president, and I'm just anxious for him to finish his term and then go away.

I haven't spent much time on Wikipedia, but is it possible that your remarks on their forum were deleted by someone other than the webmaster or owners of the site? I've read that people can edit things that other people write, but I don't know if the general public can delete things or not. But it's odd that they'd delete things in a forum...and so quickly. I'm guessing, though, that the neocons would delete most of what the liberals write online if they could.

Parrotlover77 said...

It sounds to me like here's a perfect case to put together a group to counteract the Bush zealots. It's easy to rollback edits and rollback rollbacks. The dicussion page is the perfect place to do it. At some point the childish behavior of the Bush zealots can be exposed and Wikipedia has many mechanisms to protect neutrality of articles when a dispute occurs. Let's work within the system instead of just labelling Wikipedia in bed with Fox News. Wikipedia wants to be neutral and this is a valid case where neutrality is not occurring. Bush's article SHOULD contain controversies and allegations, just like Clinton's. More information is better than less information.

Anonymous said...

I would have expected this from "Conservapedia".I just can't figure out how Bush manages time and time again to avoid the criticism he so richly deserves.I hadn't even heard of this Texas women found shot to death.Gee,"move along,nothing to see here".

Orangutan. said...

I think a mention of Jeff Gannon/Guckert would be appropriate under a "controversies" section of the G.W. Bush page.

I'm assuming the controversy section of the Clinton page can't be removed, I'm not sure how wikipedia works but maybe you can add things but you can't take things away from pages??

Anyway. I really appreciate this type of post because we have to understand clearly what we are up against. I hope we prevail.

Anonymous said...

This isn't my comment (I found it over at International Web Developers Network's forum), but I thought it was interesting, particularly what it says about Plame and Wiki's bots:
......................
Maybe it's time for Wikipedia to acknowledge what it is, instead of sticking with the "neutral point-of-view" mantra:
http://www.beggarscanbechoosers.com/2008/02/wikipedia-continues-to-sanitize-bush.html

Clearly, those two pages are edited with the completely biased POV shared by the community of those whose lives consist of nothing more than scrubbing open-edit websites to reflect their views on the topic-at-hand.

It is odd, is it not, that not only is no mention made of the Valerie Plame issue on the George W. Bush page but that no discussion of the issue (or the editorial reasoning for its exclusion) exists, in the discussion thread for that page? (Hint: any mention of that name is considered 'vandalism' -- even for the discussion page -- and auto-reverted by the bots...)

Perhaps Wikipedia should describe itself accurately as what it has become, rather than continue to mislead people by describing itself inaccurately as what it aspires to be, but has no mechanism to ensure...

Michael said...

I set up a wiki page at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_Continues_To_Sanitize_Bush_Content
to check this out and with the help of your readership... we can go from there. I need some help.

Michael said...

I started a page on wiki to see what comes of it. I need some help...
But they deleted it already.
http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Cabellero&diff=cur

pessimist said...

Far be it for me to be fair to that bastard Bush, but Wikipedia isn't ignoring Margie Schoedinger:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margie_Schoedinger
Margie Schoedinger
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Margie Schoedinger (1965?-2003) was an American woman who filed a civil suit against former Texas governor and current U.S. President George W. Bush in 2002, alleging that Bush had sexually assaulted her.

In December of 2002, Schoedinger appeared before the Fort Bend County Court in Texas. She charged Bush with "individual sex crimes" against both Schoedinger and her husband. The suit sought several million dollars in damages.

On September 22nd, 2003, Schoedinger died. The Harris County, Texas Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death a suicide by self-inflicted gunshot wound.

References

Plaintiff's Original Petition. http://ccweb.co.fort-bend.tx.us/imgcache/civil1986144-1-7.pdf

John Ashtead, "Dead Woman Who Accused Bush of Rape." Pravda. 12 November 2003. http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/368/11257_scandal.html

Brian Carnell, "The Bush Rape Non-Story." LeftWatch.com. 28 August 2003. http://www.leftwatch.com/archives/years/2003/000038.html

Jackson Thoreau, "Did George Bush Rape a Black Woman?" BlackInTheCity.net. 2 May 2007. http://www.blackinthecity.net/blog/society/did-george-bush-rape-a-black-woman.html

Your point about them not linking to this information on the Bush page is, however, very valid.

paganbaby said...

Wikipedia has shown their true colors to me. There is an entry for POLITICAL SYSTEMS SPECTRUM in Wiki. Some time ago, I tried inserting an entry for an ECONOMIC SYSTEMS SPECTRUM in the Wiki operation. The idea was attacked by those who monitor Wiki as being an improper entry. The entry was removed. If you type in ECONOMIC SYSTEMS SPECTRUM into the Wiki search today, you will be sent to an entry about SOCIAL CLASS. Why is this? Conservatives seem to be unwilling to make a distinction between political and economic systems. To them, there is no difference between the two. They do not accept the idea that there is an economic spectrum running from a market system on one end to a centrally planned system on the opposite end. They do not accept the idea that it is possible to have a democratic political system and a centrally planned economic system or a totalitarian political system and a market economic system. To them, democracy=capitalism and socialism =totalitarianism, even though these are incorrect equations because they are mixing political and economic systems spectrums. Therefore, they aren't going to allow an entry for an ECONOMIC SYSTEM SPECTRUM in their conservative pedia. Politcally, and economically, Wikipedia seems to be more of a propaganda effort that needs to be exposed for what it is.

Distributorcap said...

it is obvious there are guardians of the legend of Bush ---- while wikipedia is being scrubbed by the hour (or more) at least there are plenty of other places to get the lowdown on the piece of shit in the white house

i constantly tell my niece and nephews what a fool and jerk the president is --- and it is sinking in

as for the Schoedinger case -- until i read this I NEVER HEARD OF IT

i think that deserves some viral internet travelling

TCSJ said...

Anyone can post to Wikipedia. You and I can add whatever information we want. What's happening here is that Bush/Rove has a very motivated folks who are taking care of Bush's entries, while Bill's entries are not being "handled" as adeptly. If you want to see some truth on Bush's entry, go ahead and add some content. It's fun and easy and as long as it's truthful and unabusive, the content should remain.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Wikipedia is that it is dominated by stupid, ignorant fools.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Cranky Daze, thanks for stopping by.

re:
>>but is it possible that your
>>remarks on their forum were
>>deleted by someone other than
>>the webmaster or owners of the
>>site?

As it turns out, it looks like my original comments were automatically deleted by "bot" scripts that the Wiki page administrators use to block "vandalism."
That is understandable to a certain degree...but when they use these "bots" to block specific topics from being raised in the forums (like Valerie Plame), then this is censorship.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Parrotlover77:
re:
>>Let's work within the system
>>instead of just labelling
>>Wikipedia in bed with Fox News.

I didn't say they were in bed with Fox News---but some of their article contributors seem to be. And with the use of automated "bot" scripts, they routinely have blocked contributors from adding info on topics that they'd rather ignore (like the PlameGate case).
I'm pleased to report that, in the aftermath of this article, that PlameGate finally made an appearance on the main Wiki/Bush page. Hopefully, this won't be just temporary---before some Bush supporter deletes it.