Created by Internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales and philosophy PhD Larry Sanger, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that is currently the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet. Its name is a composite of the words “wiki” (a technology for creating collaborative websites, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning “quick”) and “encyclopedia.” As of June 2012, Wikipedia contained 22 million articles in 285 different languages (including more than 3.9 million articles in English alone), and had approximately 100,000 regularly active contributors. The Internet analysis firm Alexa ranks Wikipedia as the sixth most popular website on earth, which means that it stands with Google, Amazon, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook as one of the foundational bases for the organization and distribution of information on the Internet today.
Wikipedia began as a complementary project for Nupedia, a free online English-language encyclopedia whose articles were written by experts and reviewed under a formal process. Founded under the ownership of the web portal company Bomis, Inc. on March 9, 2000, Nupedia’s two major figures were its editor-in-chief, Larry Sanger, and the CEO of Bomis, Jimmy Wales. On January 10, 2001, Sanger proposed to create a wiki as a “feeder” project for Nupedia. Five days later, Wikipedia was formally launched as a single, English-language edition.
Because Wikipedia is largely open—except for particularly sensitive and/or vandalism-prone pages, which are “protected” from editing to some degree—anyone with Internet access can write or edit the text of any entry on the website as they see fit; they can do this anonymously, under a pseudonym, or with their real identity. Different language editions modify this policy; for example, only registered users may create a new article in the English edition.
Though Wikipedia claims that its goal is to present information in a forum whose hallmarks are “verifiability” and a “neutral point of view,” its overall leftist bias is pervasive and demonstrable. Consider, for instance:
- Fully 35.6% of conservative author Ann Coulter’s Wikipedia entry is devoted to “Controversies and Criticism”—in which a series of Coulter quotes are cited with accompanying condemnations, primarily from her opponents on the left. By contrast, a mere 4.5% of leftist filmmaker Michael Moore‘s entry deals with negative or controversial information.
- The same disproportion exists in the Wikipedia entries of the former flagship stars of Fox News and MSNBC, conservative Glenn Beck and leftist Keith Olbermann. Twenty-three percent of Beck’s entry is critical of its subject, versus just 5% of Olbermann’s.
- The leftist icon Noam Chomsky has perhaps the most detailed and respectful Wikipedia entries of any political commentator in the world. Moreover, his page has an unusually high level of protection: a lock logo advising readers that the profile cannot be edited by unregistered or new users.
- The left-wing slant in entries for people who are deceased is less marked and generally more subtle. But even here, strong bias occasionally intrudes. For example, the 12,707-word Wikipedia entry for the late Che Guevara, Fidel Castro‘s bloodthirsty henchman of the 1960s, includes only a single, 235-word paragraph (1.8%) of criticism. Deliberately barred from the entry is any reference to the scholarly work of prominent Guevara-critic Humberto Fontova. Notably, 52% of Fontova’s own Wikipedia entry is of a negative nature.
For additional discussion and examples of Wikipedia’s biases, click here, here, and here.
It should be noted that Wikipedia’s leftward slant did not factor into the website’s founding vision; rather, it developed over time. Jimmy Wales, who would become the project’s “benevolent dictator,” according to Andrew Lih’s The Wikipedia Revolution, is a libertarian and an Ayn Randian Objectivist. A second noteworthy influence that helped give form to Wikipedia was the so-called “hacker ethos,” the culture that has developed amongst computer programmers since the early 1970s and has been shaped by the Left, the counterculture, popular culture, and anarchist thought.
What binds these two ideologies together is a utopian conviction that human beings are more prone to altruism than to self-interest. In Wikipedia Revolution, for example, Wales is quoted as saying: “Generally we find most people out there on the Internet are good…. It’s one of the wonderful humanitarian discoveries in Wikipedia, that most people only want to help us and build this free nonprofit, charitable resource.” Andrew Lih explains how this philosophy is embedded within Wikipedia’s rules:
“A core idea Wikipedia embraced … was to assume good faith when interacting with others. The guideline promoted optimistic production rather than pessimistic nay-saying, and reads, ‘Unless there is strong evidence to the contrary, assume that people who work on the project are trying to help it, not hurt it; avoid accusing others of harmful motives without particularly strong evidence.’”
But over time, Wikipedia in practice strayed from these utopian ideals because of the ease with which political and social bias trumps altruism. After almost a decade of rapid growth and free-wheeling experimentation, by the summer of 2009 Wikipedia was in chaos. Political operatives routinely sabotaged one another during election seasons by vandalizing the pages bearing profiles of their opponents. Malicious misinformation filtered in freely from contributors in the general public as well, with a number of living historical figures accused of involvement in conspiratorial plots.
Ira Matetsky, known by his Wikipedia handle “newyorkbrad,” is a lawyer and veteran Wikipedian—both an administrator on the site and part of its Arbitration Committee, the council of decision-makers who sort out disputes between editors. In a series of articles at the libertarian group blog The Volokh Conspiracy, Matetsky discussed numerous examples of Wikipedia’s misinformation and the profound effects it had on the lives of innocent people:
“…[M]alicious or simply thoughtless content added to Wikipedia [biographies of living persons] can be very damaging. A series of serious and widely reported incidents have brought the problem to public attention. Among these: the [Siegenthaler incident], in which an article was vandalized to accuse a completely innocent person of suspected complicity in an assassination, and no one caught the problem for four months; the incident in 2007 in which a Turkish academic was detained for several hours by immigration officials in Canada, reportedly based on an inaccurate allegation in his Wikipedia article that he was a terrorist; the lawsuit brought by a prominent golfer against the person who added defamatory content to his article; the blatant attack page created against a well-known California attorney, allegedly as part of a negative public-relations campaign launched on behalf of one of the companies he was suing.”
To address such derelictions, Wikipedia designated a contingent of 20,000 volunteer editors who would be given a greater level of authority to alter and control the content of entries on the website. Most notably, it would be their responsibility to act as guards for all articles about living people, reviewing suggested edits before they became visible to the public. The decision to deploy this army of editors was made by the Wikimedia Foundation, the California nonprofit that operates the website, not only to prevent libelous vandalism but also to reduce the threat of lawsuits. Jimmy Wales and Wikimedia chairman Michael Snow both voiced their support for the measure.
By definition, Wikipedia’s 20,000 volunteer editors are people who have significant amounts of free time to devote to an unpaid, utopian endeavor to shape the world’s information into a unified “consensus.” By and large, such individuals are more likely to hold liberal/left political views than members of the general population.
Further, a majority of the 100,000+ contributors who write and edit Wikipedia’s entries are likewise apt to lean leftward politically. According to Wikipedia, the average age of its contributors is 26.1; only one in three have a relationship partner; and just 14.7% have children. It has been well established that young, unmarried, childless adults tend disproportionately to support liberal/left candidates and causes. In 2011, for instance, the Pew Research Center reported that 18- to 30-year-olds had voted more Democratic than older voters in each of the previous four national elections. Fully half of respondents in this age group identified themselves as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents, while just 36% affiliated with or leaned toward the Republican Party. Moreover, 57% of them favored a bigger government, and 61% favored Barack Obama in a prospective presidential matchup against Mitt Romney. Similar pro-Democrat leanings have been reported among unmarried men and women.
Wikipedia and Israel
Arguably the most contentious topic area in Wikipedia is Israel and the ongoing Arab-Israeli dispute. A collection of editors who can be accurately described as anti-Semites, Israel-haters, pro-Palestinians, and BDS supporters have banded together with an array of anarchists, radical leftists, and neo-Nazis to create and edit articles that disparage Jews and Israel. Some Wikipedia administrators, whose duty is to ensure fair play and unbiased editing, often allow their biases to get the better of them, and they become complicit by enforcing the rules against pro-Israel editors while ignoring transgressions committed by the anti-Israel camp.
As a result, Wikipedia contains a long list of articles highly critical of Israel and Jews. Among these are “Israel and the Apartheid Analogy,” “Jewish Religious Terrorism,” and a mammoth piece titled “Criticism of the Israeli Government,” which singles out Israel for special scrutiny and condemnation.
By contrast, reports author Ari Lieberman, “Attempts to highlight genuine apartheid in Arab countries through the creation of meticulously sourced, articulate articles were quashed. Similarly, there are no articles specifically dedicated to criticizing the Syrian, Saudi Arabian, Sudanese, North Korean and Iranian governments or other repressive, fascist regimes.”
The most noteworthy of Wikipedia’s anti-Israel editors is an individual who goes by the pseudonym “Nableezy,” a man with some Egyptian ancestry and a former resident of the Chicago area. Nableezy is a prolific Wikipedia editor who zealously focuses on the Arab-Israeli topic area, cherry-picking his sources to fit his anti-Israel agenda. Often, he rallies other anti-Israeli editors—so-called “meat puppets”—to converge or swarm on specific articles to either insert a particular anti-Israel viewpoint or to maintain an existing anti-Israel narrative.
It is all but certain that Nableezy edits under various IP addresses using different accounts. This practice is referred to as “sock puppetry” and is prohibited under Wikipedia’s rules. When a well-crafted effort based on meticulously documented evidence was brought forward to expose Nableezy’s practice of utilizing meat puppets and sock puppets, it failed due in large part to Nableezy’s ability to gather swarms of allied editors and sympathetic administrators to come to his defense.
In the Arab-Israeli topic area, Wikipedia rules (regarding content and objectivity) that are meant to be applied to both sides are generally enforced only against those thought to be pro-Israel. As a result of multiple enforcement actions, most of which were brought by Nableezy or his cohorts, the number of editors identified as having views sympathetic to Israel have dwindled to a trickle, while the ranks of passionately anti-Israel editors have swelled. Because articles appearing in Wikipedia are heavily influenced by “consensus,” Israeli narratives are generally marginalized while “Palestinian” narratives are overemphasized. A few examples:
- The term “Judea and Samaria” denoting the biblical and historical name for the West Bank may not be used to describe that geographical location. Any attempt to do so will get the offending editor banned.
- Israeli cities, towns and villages across the Green Line must be referenced as “settlements.”
- All articles describing Israeli cities, towns and villages in Judea and Samaria contain the following sentence in the lead paragraph; “The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law.” The sentence is inaccurate ,but efforts to remove this erroneous allegation are instantly met with a torrent of objections and ultimate reversion by Nableezy or one of his acolytes.
- Yasser Arafat was long rumored to have been gay, and there is some credible evidence suggesting that he was also a pedophile who had sexual relations with boys between the ages of 13 and 15. All efforts to insert these well-sourced facts into the Arafat article were rebuffed. Arafat’s sexual orientation is clearly relevant, given the discrimination and outright hostility gay Arabs are forced to endure in Palestinian society. It is also relevant given persistent rumors that Arafat had died of AIDS.
- Arafat’s life was marked by corruption, terrorism and murder, yet the Wikipedia article on Arafat the PLO leader sanitizes his involvement in these activities.
- Credible sources suspected of being pro-Israel are routinely subjected to heightened scrutiny and are often rejected as biased or untrustworthy. Conversely, anti-Israel sources such as the government-controlled Qatari mouthpiece Al-Jazeera and the Palestinian Authority’s Ma’an News (which dabbles in Holocaust denial), are accepted without equivocation. Anti-Israel scholars such as Ilan Pappe and Norman Finkelstein, whose works have been soundly discredited, are often cited as authoritative.
Many of those who edit Wikipedia do so under pseudonyms, while others freely edit under their own names. One individual in the latter category is Roland Rance, a Marxist Jew who chairs an organization called “Jews against Zionism.” Rance and Nableezy, along with a host of assorted anti-Israel, anti-Semitic editors, often employ tag-team tactics to exhaust or overwhelm those who maintain contrary opinions.
To be sure, there are some administrators at Wikipedia who are impartial and take their responsibilities seriously. But when they have challenged misconduct by Nableezy and his allies, they have been subjected to vitriolic abuse and have been forced to back off. This has had a chilling effect on other editors and administrators, who have mostly decided to steer clear of the Arab-Israel topic area, lest they encounter the same treatment.
Co-Founder Larry Sanger Says Wikipedia’s Neutrality Is Long Gone
In a May 2020 blog post titled “Wikipedia Is Badly Biased,” Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger acknowledged that the website’s professed “NPOV” (neutral point of view) no longer existed. Some excerpts from his piece include the following:
- Wikipedia’s “NPOV” is dead. The original policy long since forgotten, Wikipedia no longer has an effective neutrality policy. There is a rewritten policy, but it endorses the utterly bankrupt canard that journalists should avoid what they call “false balance.” The notion that we should avoid “false balance” is directly contradictory to the original neutrality policy. As a result, even as journalists turn to opinion and activism, Wikipedia now touts controversial points of view on politics, religion, and science.
- Examples have become embarrassingly easy to find. The Barack Obama article completely fails to mention many well-known scandals: Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the AP phone records scandal, and Fast and Furious, to say nothing of Solyndra or the Hillary Clinton email server scandal—or, of course, the developing “Obamagate” story in which Obama was personally involved in surveilling Donald Trump. A fair article about a major political figure certainly must include the bad with the good. The only scandals that I could find that were mentioned were a few that the left finds at least a little scandalous, such as Snowden’s revelations about NSA activities under Obama. In short, the article is almost a total whitewash.
- Meanwhile, as you can imagine, the idea that the Donald Trump article is neutral is a joke. Just for example, there are 5,224 none-too-flattering words in the “Presidency” section. By contrast, the following “Public Profile” (which the Obama article entirely lacks), “Investigations,” and “Impeachment” sections are unrelentingly negative, and together add up to some 4,545 words—in other words, the controversy sections are almost as long as the sections about his presidency. Common words in the article are “false” and “falsely” (46 instances): Wikipedia frequently asserts, in its own voice, that many of Trump’s statements are “false.” Well, perhaps they are. But even if they are, it is not exactly neutral for an encyclopedia article to say so, especially without attribution.
- I leave the glowing Hillary Clinton article as an exercise for the reader.
- Wikipedia can be counted on to cover not just political figures, but political issues as well from a liberal-left point of view. No conservative would write, in an abortion article, “When properly done, abortion is one of the safest procedures in medicine,” a claim that is questionable on its face, considering what an invasive, psychologically distressing, and sometimes lengthy procedure it can be even when done according to modern medical practices. More to the point, abortion opponents consider the fetus to be a human being with rights; their view, that it is not safe for the baby, is utterly ignored.
- To pick another, random issue, drug legalization, dubbed drug liberalization by Wikipedia, has only a little information about any potential hazards of drug legalization policies; it mostly serves as a brief for legalization, followed by a catalog of drug policies worldwide.
- Or to take an up-to-the-minute issue, the LGBT adoption article includes several talking points in favor of LGBT adoption rights, but omits any arguments against. On all such issues, the point is that true neutrality, to be carefully distinguished from objectivity, requires that the article be written in a way that makes it impossible to determine the editors’ position on the important controversies the article touches on.
- What about articles on religious topics? The first article I thought to look at had some pretty egregious instances of bias: the Jesus article. It simply asserts, again in its own voice, that “the quest for the historical Jesus has yielded major uncertainty on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the Jesus portrayed in the Bible reflects the historical Jesus.” In another place, the article simply asserts, “the gospels are not independent nor consistent records of Jesus’ life.” A great many Christians would take issue with such statements, which means it is not neutral for that reason.
- This [Jesus] article weirdly claims, or implies, a thing that no serious Biblical scholar of any sort would claim, viz., that Jesus was not given the title “Christ” by the original apostles in the New Testament. These supposed “later Christians” who used “Christ” would have to include the apostles Peter (Jesus’ first apostle), Paul (converted a few years after Jesus’ crucifixion), and Jude (Jesus’ brother), who were the authors of the bulk of the epistles of the New Testament. “Christ” can, of course, be found frequently in the epistles. Of course, those are not exactly “later Christians.” If the claim is simply that the word “Christ” does not appear much in the Gospels, that is true enough (though it can be found four times in the book of John), but it is also a reflection of the fact that the authors of the Gospels instead used “Messiah,” and quite frequently; the word means much the same as “Christ.” For example, he is called “Jesus the Messiah” in the very first verse of the New Testament (Matthew 1:1). Clearly, these claims are tendentious and represent a point of view that many if not most Christians would dispute.
- It may seem more problematic to speak of the bias of scientific articles, because many people do not want to see “unscientific” views covered in encyclopedia articles. If such articles are “biased in favor of science,” some people naturally find that to be a feature, not a bug. The problem, though, is that scientists sometimes do not agree on which theories are and are not scientific. On such issues, the “scientific point of view” and the “objective point of view” according to the Establishment might be very much opposed to neutrality. So when the Establishment seems unified on a certain view of a scientific controversy, then that is the view that is taken for granted, and often aggressively asserted, by Wikipedia. The global warming and MMR vaccine articles are examples; I hardly need to dive into these pages, since it is quite enough to say that they endorse definite positions that scientific minorities reject. Another example is how Wikipedia treats various topics in alternative medicine—often dismissively, and frequently labeled as “pseudoscience” in Wikipedia’s own voice. Indeed, Wikipedia defines the very term as follows: “Alternative medicine describes any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is untested, untestable or proven ineffective.” In all these cases, genuine neutrality requires a different sort of treatment.
- It is time for Wikipedia to come clean and admit that it has abandoned NPOV (i.e., neutrality as a policy). At the very least they should admit that that they have redefined the term in a way that makes it utterly incompatible with its original notion of neutrality, which is the ordinary and common one. It might be better to embrace a “credibility” policy and admit that their notion of what is credible does, in fact, bias them against conservatism, traditional religiosity, and minority perspectives on science and medicine—to say nothing of many other topics on which Wikipedia has biases.
On June 30, 2021, Sanger posted a lengthy piece titled “Wikipedia Is More One-Sided Than Ever” on his blog, LarrySanger.com. Some key excerpts:
- All encyclopedic content on Wikipedia,” declares a policy page, “must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV).” This is essential policy, believe it or not. Maybe that will be hard to believe, if you have read many Wikipedia articles on controversial topics lately. But it is true: neutrality is the second of the “Five Pillars” policies that define Wikipedia’s approach to the craft of encyclopedia-writing. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales made a statement that Wikipedia now regards as definitive. “Doing The Right Thing takes many forms,” he wrote, “but perhaps most central is the preservation of our shared vision for the NPOV and for a culture of thoughtful diplomatic honesty.”
- Wikipedia is supposed to be like Switzerland, proverbially speaking: not casting any side as the enemy, and certainly not taking pot-shots at one side. And this is roughly how Wikipedia still officially characterizes neutrality: “Wikipedia aims to describe disputes, but not engage in them.”
- In other words, the way to keep the peace among a radically diverse set of contributors is not to declare winners and losers. But that is only one reason we adopted the policy. There was another key reason: as I have explained, no one has a right to make up your mind for you, especially in an open, global project. That does violence to our basic autonomy and, if the project ever became very large and important, it would place an enormous amount of power in the hands of a ideological cabal. And on Wikipedia, There is no cabal (ask them; they’ll tell you). Such ideological control would turn Wikipedia into an engine of propaganda. The neutrality policy was supposed to prevent that.
- Democrats and (most) Republicans were sharply divided on the question of whether Trump’s impeachments had any merit. The Democratic view was that Trump abused his office by encouraging the president of Ukraine to investigate his opponent, Biden. Later, he egged on the January 6 invasion of the Capitol building. The Republican view was that Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president was wholly innocent, that he had committed no “high crime or misdemeanor,” and that Biden was in fact guilty of dirty shenanigans in Ukraine. As to the January 6 invasion, his remarks did not cause it. Of course, there is much, much more to be said on all sides. Now, a neutral Wikipedia would not come down clearly on either side, and would fully lay out the Democratic and the Republican cases fairly and fully. Is that what we see on Wikipedia?
- No. As of this writing (and this caveat goes for all of the following), there was a section of the Donald Trump article about the first impeachment (2019-20). That section had absolutely no information about the Republican side in the House impeachment proceedings; only the Democratic side is presented. As to the Senate trial, here is the total extent of Wikipedia’s remarks about the Trump (i.e., majority Republican) position: “Trump’s lawyers did not deny the facts as presented in the charges but said Trump had not broken any laws or obstructed Congress. They argued that the impeachment was ‘constitutionally and legally invalid’ because Trump was not charged with a crime and that abuse of power is not an impeachable offense.” That is all; two transparently biased sentences. Among other things, the article omits the essential point that Trump’s lawyers also denied that there was any abuse of power in the first place.
- As to the second impeachment trial (that of January, 2021), in the Donald Trump article, no information is offered on either side about the arguments for impeachment, either in the House or the Senate proceedings. Certainly there is nothing remotely representing the perspective of Trump and his defenders. Again, there is a much longer article, “Second impeachment of Donald Trump,” with a “Background” section that essentially lays out the Democratic case against Trump. No Trump rebuttal is given at all. The rest of the article is also extremely biased; there is a long section of opinions whether Trump should have been impeached. The “Opposition” section (i.e., listing people opposed to impeachment) skips entirely over all House Republican opposition, and presents only Senate opposition. This is hardly fair, neutral treatment on events that deeply divided the American people. Wikipedia took the Democrats’ side against Trump, period. The articles are so biased, in fact, that it is fair to call them “propaganda.”
The Biden Family Ukraine Scandal
- President Biden faced, and has so far easily escaped, two potentially devastating scandals that were unleashed in the 2020 election. One concerned Ukraine and the other concerned the shady business dealings Hunter and his father allegedly had with a company controlled by the Chinese government. The issue dividing Republicans and Democrats here, obviously, was: Was there any evidence of wrongdoing? Not all national-level Republicans thought the scandals were worth talking about, but some certainly did; and a lot of the rank-and-file did. The Democrats, meanwhile, essentially circled the wagons and refused to report on or discuss the issues involved. When they did, they typically issued blanket denials and dismissals.
- A neutral handling of the many confusing accusations would not imply that Biden was guilty of anything. But it also would not clear him of all charges. Rather, it would present enough detail about the accusations and the purported evidence for them, leaving nothing important out; then it would explain in some detail how Biden was defended by Democrats and his allies. That much is the least that one would expect to find in a neutral treatment of the scandals. Is that what we see in Wikipedia?
- Not at all. We can look at some relevant articles, first about the Ukraine scandal. In the “Campaign” section of the Wikipedia article on Biden, there are two paragraphs explaining the allegations (footnotes and links have been removed from this quotation):
“In September 2019, it was reported that Trump had pressured Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate alleged wrongdoing by Biden and his son Hunter Biden. Despite the allegations, as of September 2019, no evidence has been produced of any wrongdoing by the Bidens. The media widely interpreted this pressure to investigate the Bidens as trying to hurt Biden’s chances of winning the presidency, resulting in a political scandal and Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives.
“Beginning in 2019, Trump and his allies falsely accused Biden of getting the Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin fired because he was supposedly pursuing an investigation into Burisma Holdings, which employed Hunter Biden. Biden was accused of withholding $1 billion in aid from Ukraine in this effort. In 2015, Biden pressured the Ukrainian parliament to remove Shokin because the United States, the European Union and other international organizations considered Shokin corrupt and ineffective, and in particular because Shokin was not assertively investigating Burisma. The withholding of the $1 billion in aid was part of this official policy.”
- This is, of course, an obviously one-sided whitewash which takes Biden’s side throughout. In these dismissive paragraphs, one cannot fully make sense of what the case against Biden was even supposed to be; Biden’s withholding of aid is mentioned, but the context and explanation essential to the case are omitted.
- Anyone passingly familiar with the story knows there is much more to it. There is nothing here about the fact that Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma paid Joe Biden’s son Hunter approximately $600,000 per annum from 2014 to 2019 to serve on the Board of Directors, never mind that he had no industry experience but only a connection to his father, the Vice President of the United States. Wikipedia even has the temerity to make the claim that “Trump and his allies falsely accused Biden of getting the Ukrainian prosecutor general Viktor Shokin fired, because he was supposedly pursuing an investigation into Burisma Holdings, which employed Hunter Biden.” While it was in dispute why Biden sought Shokin’s ouster, it is perfectly true that he did so. The statement, in fact, was one Joe Biden specifically made himself—with braggadocio and to laughter—in an infamous video of an interview before the Council on Foreign Relations. The video, of course, is not so much as mentioned by Wikipedia. Nor is there any discussion of Hunter Biden’s infamous laptop and the damning evidence it contained.
- Wikipedia does have a whole article titled—indeed, its bias showing right in the title—”Biden-Ukraine conspiracy theory.” It begins, “The Biden–Ukraine conspiracy theory [bold in original] is a series of unevidenced claims centered on the false allegation that while Joe Biden was vice president of the United States, he engaged in corrupt activities relating to the employment of his son Hunter Biden by the Ukrainian gas company Burisma.” There are, of course, a great many people who believe the claims are not “false” and no mere “conspiracy theory.” Their point of view is not presented but dismissed out of hand. The article goes downhill from there, serving essentially as a hit piece on Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and the New York Post, with very few actual details about what the allegations even were. More details can be found in a section of the Hunter Biden article—which is something—but even this reads as a blatantly biased brief written by the Biden family’s own lawyers.
The Biden Family Chinese Deals
- At this point, Wikipedia’s defenders might well fall back on their notion that only “reliable sources” are permitted, and, gee, no reliable sources thought much of the above-mentioned video or laptop. “But,” you might well observe, “it was big news for a time. And Wikipedia thought there were no reliable sources at all? Why not?” The reason is that the sources that provide mainstream coverage of conservative points of view, including Fox News, The New York Post, and the (U.K.) Daily Mail—as well as pretty much all of newer conservative news media sources, which are the only outlets doing any reporting on many important stories—have all been added to a list of sources “deprecated” for their coverage of political news. This is not a joke and not an exaggeration. Republican-favoring sources, even quite mainstream ones, simply may not be used on Wikipedia, not even to explain a Republican viewpoint.
- The Biden China scandal is similar and is treated similarly in Wikipedia. Here, Hunter was a director of a joint venture between an American company, Rosemont Seneca, where Hunter was a partner, and Bohai Capital, a Chinese government-controlled investment firm. The joint venture was called BHR. According to the explosive testimony of Tony Bobulinski, the Bidens’ top executive for handling certain deals in China, Hunter arranged for Jonathan Li, CEO of Bohai Capital, to “shake hands” with his father, and Joe Biden was, according to Bobulinski, directly involved in the deals.
- In addition to the Bobulinski interview, a great deal of supporting evidence comes from the same Hunter Biden laptop mentioned above, such as an email indicating that brothers Hunter and Jim Biden, along with “the big guy”—Bobulinski identified him as Joe Biden—would each be assigned equity shares in a business venture with Chinese energy giant CEFC.
- Can any of this information on the China Biden scandal be found—even in a twisted, biased form—in the Wikipedia article on Joe Biden? Nope. As of this writing, that article contains not a single word about the China deals, Rosemont Seneca, Tony Bobulinski, the laptop, or the CEFC. But surely information can be found elsewhere on Wikipedia about these matters? Well, yes, there is a little. Most of it is again in the article on Hunter Biden, written in a way to make Hunter look as good as possible, the hapless victim of Trump’s “false charges” (those precise, dismissive words are actually used).
The Antifa/BLM riots
- Next I propose to look at some articles on the 2020 Antifa and BLM riots. There could not be a starker cultural divide in the American body politic than in the reaction to these riots. The rioting was sparked particularly following the May 26, 2020 death (or, as most people think, killing) of George Floyd. […] A neutral treatment would, of course, give broad factual coverage of such things as where the rioting took place, how many people were arrested, and numbers of injuries and deaths attributable to the rioting. The main Wikipedia article actually seems to do a good job there, as far as I can tell. But in addition, the reaction to the riots on both sides would be fully and fairly canvassed. Varying theories of the causes of the riots would be offered; Democratic theories would dwell, of course, on police brutality and racist attitudes and groups, while Republican theories, acknowledging that to some degree, would also discuss deliberate left-wing organization and dispute the extent of the problems exemplified by the George Floyd case.
- Wikipedia’s coverage is, unsurprisingly, very extensive. There is a long summary article, “George Floyd protests,” as well as a “List of George Floyd protests in the United States,” and a long article titled, “2020-2021 United States racial unrest.” The concern that conservatives have is not with any protest, but with political violence in the form of rioting. So let us focus on the last article.
- As one gets farther into the article, however, the bias becomes much more pronounced. “A wave of monument removals”—an odd way to describe the deliberate, illegal destruction of public sculpture— “and name changes has taken place throughout the world, especially in the United States.” But what about the reaction to the riots? It was a “cultural reckoning,” we are told. “Public opinion of racism and discrimination quickly shifted in the wake of the protests, with significantly increased support of the Black Lives Matter movement and acknowledgement of institutional racism.” It is true that there was an increase of support for BLM early on. But support quickly dropped as the organization became associated with destructive violence in black neighborhoods, agitation against police funding, and radical communist views.
- The rest of the article … looks like a lovingly detailed Establishment brief about the causes and events of the 2020 riots. As to the causes, one key claim is: “Black people, who account for less than 13% of the American population, are killed by police at a disproportionate rate, being killed at more than twice the rate of white people.” While this is no doubt true, a relevant fact, often cited by Republicans, is omitted: black men are much more likely to commit crimes that might bring a call to the police.
- Finally, there is a “Social impact” section. This is focused entirely on broader social and political changes that were supposedly caused by a reaction to the riots (and protests). In this section, and indeed all throughout the article, there is complete silence about the Republican criticism of the riots and of Democratic politicians who supported the violence or pretended that it was not happening; of the conservative backlash against Antifa and BLM; and of resistance to the social fallout such as the “Defund the Police” campaigns and some police “reform” proposals that would make policing much more difficult. There is absolutely no mention of conservative and Republican claims that the riots were deliberately and even centrally organized by left-wing organizations. Criticism of Black Lives Matter cannot be found in the article in any form….
The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election
- Then of course there is the disputed 2020 U.S. presidential election. […] It came down to January 6, when Congress was going to vote on whether to accept the Electoral College vote count. As the Wikipedia article on the “Attempts to overturn the 2020 United States presidential election” has it, some 140 House Republicans and 11 Senate Republicans were prepared to lodge objections. Then, of course, the infamous invasion of the Capitol building happened—just in time to make such objections even more politically costly for representatives holding shaky seats.
- The above-linked article was bound to be another propaganda piece. And so it is—shot through and through with egregious bias. Here is how it begins: “After the 2020 United States presidential election in which Joe Biden prevailed, then-incumbent Donald Trump, as well as his campaign and his proxies, pursued an aggressive and unprecedented effort to deny and overturn the election. The attempts to overturn the election were described as an attempted coup d’état and an implementation of ‘the big lie.’ Trump and his allies promoted numerous false claims that the election was stolen from Trump through an international communist conspiracy, rigged voting machines, and electoral fraud.”
- Further down, we have another gem: “Stop the Steal [bold in original] is a far-right and conservative campaign and protest movement in the United States promoting the conspiracy theory that falsely posits that widespread electoral fraud occurred during the 2020 presidential election to deny incumbent President Donald Trump victory over former vice president Joe Biden.”
- There are actually several articles related to irregularities in the 2020 election and its aftermath. In addition to the one discussed above, there is also Republican reactions to Donald Trump’s claims of 2020 election fraud, which states, “Trump falsely claimed to have won the election, and made many false and unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.” […] In other words, the backlash against the 2020 election was not a broad Republican movement, but only one hated and discredited man’s outrageous and illegal attempt to overturn the election.
- In “2021 United States Capitol Attack,” you will learn that the Capitol “was stormed during a riot and violent attack against the U.S. Congress,” by “a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump” who “attempted to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.” Never mind that several details here are in dispute.
Other Recent Issues in the Culture War
- In science, even more than global warming (or climate change), there has been significant controversy over Covid-19 and the official measures to combat it. You will not be surprised to learn that Wikipedia debunks everything the Establishment debunks, all conveniently collected into a single article on “COVID-19 misinformation.” Alongside silly things almost no one would take seriously, you can learn that it is “misinformation” to suggest a “Wuhan lab origin” of the virus. You will also be relieved to know that “masks do actually work.”
- Another article assures us, “Several researchers, from modelling and demonstrated examples, have concluded that lockdowns are effective at reducing the spread of, and deaths caused by, COVID-19.” Of course, there is no mention of any other research. What about the Covid-19 vaccines: are they effective? Safe? In the COVID-19 vaccine article, the introductory section mentions “demonstrated efficacy as high as 95%,” but nothing about side effects; further down in the article, a very short paragraph in a “Misinformation” section informs us that claims about such side effects are “overblown.” And that is it. You read that right: in an article about the experimental Covid-19 vaccines, the only thing Wikipedia has to say about their side-effects is that concern about them is overblown. Needless to say, you will not find anything in the way of information from the many skeptical physicians and medical researchers, who must not exist.
- Wikipedia does not just mirror the biases found in the mainstream news media, because some of it is conservative or contrarian. A lot of mainstream news stories are broken only in Fox News, the Daily Mail, and the New York Post—all of which are banned from use as sources by Wikipedia. Beyond that, many mainstream sources of conservative, libertarian, or contrarian opinion are banned from Wikipedia as well, including Quillette, The Federalist, and the Daily Caller. Those might be contrarian or conservative, but they are hardly “radical”; they are still mainstream. So, how on earth can such viewpoints ever be given an airing on Wikipedia? Answer: often, they cannot, not if there are no “reliable sources” available to report about them. In short, and with few exceptions, only globalist, progressive mainstream sources—and sources friendly to globalist progressivism—are permitted.
- It is true that Wikipedia permits a few sources, such as Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, and Weekly Standard, which are more often tolerant of conservative viewpoints, but these are (or have become) as often centrist as conservative, and they are generally careful never to leave the current Overton Window of progressive thought. They are the “loyal opposition” of the progressive media hegemony.
- Why has Wikipedia systematically purged conservative mainstream media sources? Is it because such sources have become intolerably irresponsible and partisan? That’s what Wikipedians will tell you. As they put it, it is because they do not want what they dismiss as “misinformation,” “conspiracy theories,” etc., to get any hearing. In saying so, they (and similarly biased institutions) are plainly claiming exclusive control over what is thinkable. They want to set the boundaries of the debate, and they want to tell you how to think about it. A good illustration of just how radical Wikipedia’s source-banning policies have become can be seen in their treatment of Newsweek magazine, which is now marked as “no consensus” (i.e., avoid and use with caution), because ownership passed in 2013 to IBT Media, the publisher of the centrist, sometimes conservative-leaning, International Business Times, which is itself deemed “unreliable.”
- For these reasons, it is not too far to say that Wikipedia, like many other deeply biased institutions of our brave new digital world, has made itself into a kind of thought police that has de facto shackled conservative viewpoints with which they disagree. Democracy cannot thrive under such conditions: I maintain that Wikipedia has become an opponent of vigorous democracy. Democracy requires that voters be given the full range of views on controversial issues, so that they can make up their minds for themselves. If society’s main information sources march in ideological lockstep, they make a mockery of democracy. Then the wealthy and powerful need only gain control of the few approved organs of acceptable thought; then they will be able to manipulate and ultimately control all important political dialogue.
Co-Founder Jimmy Wales Calls Trump a “Lunatic”
On May 26, 2020, the social media platform Twitter attached “fact check” labels to a pair of tweets by Donald Trump in which the president stated that mail-in voting was rife with fraud and could potentially lead to a “rigged election.” The “fact check” label redirected users to news articles disputing the notion that voting-by-mail was in any way related to election fraud. On May 28, President Trump signed an executive order barring such “censorship” by social media companies claiming to be open forums. Among his comments were the following:
“We’re here today to defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers it has faced in American history. A small handful of powerful social media monopolies [have] unchecked power to censure, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences…. This censorship and bias is a threat to freedom itself. Imagine if your phone company silenced or edited your conversation. Social media companies have vastly more power in the United States than newspapers, they’re by far more rich than any other traditional forms of communication…. In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the internet. This practice is fundamentally un-American and anti-democratic. When large, powerful social media companies censor opinions with which they disagree, they exercise a dangerous power. They cease functioning as passive bulletin boards, and ought to be viewed and treated as content creators.”
In response to Trump’s executive order, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales stated in an interview: “If President Trump tweets something that is nonsense, we don’t accept that as a source of information for random things he says on Twitter. We have a group of admins who are very strict and firm on what can be entered.”
Wales also said: “[The] President’s power does not extend to threatening or shutting down social media platforms. But we should fear this in every country. Worst case scenario is that platforms don’t have courage to tell Trump to go away, that they begin to adapt policies to his whims because he is a lunatic.”
Wikipedia Pushes a “Black Lives Matter” Agenda
On June 30, 2020, Breitbart.com reported:
“Following George Floyd’s death in police custody [on May 25, 2020], Wikipedia editors established a ‘Black Lives Matter‘ WikiProject to coordinate activities regarding articles on racism and policing. Many group members have a history of left-wing bias on the site with one administrator, Guy Chapman, declaring: ‘You can be one of three things: ally, enemy, or collaborator.’ Chapman and others have pushed biased changes to articles about protests over Floyd’s death and the violent far-left Antifa group. Wikipedia’s owners, The Wikimedia Foundation, have indulged such behavior by endorsing Black Lives Matter and stating there is ‘no neutral stance’ on racial justice.
“One of the first actions launched by the Black Lives Matter group on Wikipedia was an ‘edit-a-thon‘ covering the entire month of June. Edit-a-thons are events where editors on the site commit to making a large number of contributions regarding a given topic. Many edit-a-thons are specifically geared towards ‘diversity’ initiatives, such as those responding to the alleged gender gap on Wikipedia. The Black Lives Matter edit-a-thon is claimed to be about improving ‘articles on topics relating to racism, racialized violence, and the African diaspora more widely’ so as to ‘counter Wikipedia’s systemic bias.’”
Wikipedia Whitewashed Mahmoud Abbas
The Wikipedia entry on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas mentions the title of Abbas’ doctoral dissertation — The Other Side: The Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism — but otherwise passes over in silence Abbas’ long history of Holocaust denial. The entry mentions the existence of accusations about his corruption, but not the full size — $400 million — of the fortune he has amassed with his two sons, Yasser and Tareq. It quotes all of his conciliatory remarks made for a Western audience, but practically nothing of his much harsher rhetoric, for Arab and Muslim audiences, devoted to denouncing the Jewish state.
Wikipedia’s Entry on Jihad Watch
Headed by Islam scholar Robert Spencer, Jihad Watch is a website that aims to expose the “concerted effort by Islamic jihadists, the motives and goals of whom are largely ignored by the Western media, to destroy their societies and impose Islamic law upon them.” But Wikipedia casts Jihad Watch in a most negative light, writing (as of January 2021):
“Jihad Watch is a blog run by Robert B. Spencer that has been described as an anti-Muslim conspiracy website…. Jihad Watch has widely been described as an anti-Muslim conspiracy blog. Jihad Watch has been criticized for its portrayal of Islam as a totalitarian political doctrine. Jihad Watch has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League as trafficking in Islamophobic conspiracy theories. Guardian writer Brian Whitaker described Jihad Watch as a ‘notoriously Islamophobic website,’ while other critics such as Dinesh D’Souza, Karen Armstrong, and Cathy Young pointed to what they see as ‘deliberate mischaracterizations’ of Islam and Muslims by Spencer as inherently violent and therefore prone to terrorism. Spencer has denied such criticism, and has said that the term ‘Islamophobe’ is ‘a tool used by Islamic apologists to silence criticism.’ The website is labelled ‘unreliable’ by NewsGuard.”
But in fact, Spencer has never described all Muslims as “inherently violent? The texts – Qur’an, Hadith – of Islam certainly attempt to inculcate violence, but many Muslims, Spencer constantly reminds his readers, choose not to follow the command to wage violent Jihad. Nor has Spencer ever called for hatred of Muslims. The Wikipedia claims are simply repetitions of what the Southern Poverty Law Center, Karen Armstrong, and a host of other leftists — without the least evidence – have charged Spencer with.
As for NewsGuard, whose criticism of Jihad Watch his cited by Wikipedia, it is a generally leftwing website that sits in judgment of other sites and invariably disapproves of those who are critical of Islam, no matter how fact-based their criticism may be.
The visitor to Wikipedia would not know that every one of the critics referred to, or quoted, in the entry for Jihad Watch has been the object of previous criticism at Jihad Watch itself. Nor would the visitor know that the calumny heaped upon Jihad Watch by the critics whom Wikipedia cites, is prompted not by carefully considered, disinterested analysis of Robert Spencer’s writings, but by a desire to undermine Jihad Watch as payback.
Meanwhile, Wikipedia has left out all mention of those who have offered praise for Jihad Watch and Spencer, including the world-famous apostates Ibn Warraq and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the pioneering scholar of dhimmitude, Bat Ye’or, the celebrated Italian left-wing journalist Oriana Fallaci, and so many more.
This was as of August 9, 2011.
The information in the “Wikipedia and Israel” section was current as of August 2015.