Wikipedia Disallows Any Mention of Alleged John Edwards Scandal
Wikipedia, which allowed verb tenses for their Tim Russert entry to be changed from present to past tense about a half hour before the official announcement of his death, is suddenly going ultra legal in its refusal to allow their John Edwards entry to be updated with mention of the alleged scandal which was reported in the National Enquirer with many of the details confirmed by Fox News. Suddenly Wikipedia has become a stickler for confirmation detail before the Edwards entry can be updated. To get an idea of how much Wikipedia is twisting itself into a pretzel to justify their refusal to update their John Edwards entry, one needs only to look at their pained, but comedically entertaining, discussions of this matter in their "Tabloid scandal accusations" section:
As many are aware, Edwards has been accused of scandalous actions by a supermarket tabloid. As per Wikipedia's policy regarding biographies of living persons, including information about the tabloids claims is inappropriate at this time because the tabloid does not qualify as a reliable source and current reports in more reputable news sources do not confirm the claims, only reporting the fact the tabloid has published claims about Edward's actions. The same policy that prevents inclusion of the accusations within the article also prevent details from being included on this talk page.
So who was the "reliable source" who updated the Tim Russert entry to reflect his death before it was officially announced? It turned out to be a junior level employee of NBC. A case is then made for confirmation by the mainstream media:
If the mainstream media picks up the story and verifies the claims of the story, not just reporting that the tabloid has made certain claims, then inclusion of this accusations will be appropriate.
Actually, Wikipedia, there was confirmation by Fox News. They did something relatively rare for the MSM by doing some footwork and interviewing the security guard at the Beverly Hilton hotel who confirmed many details of the story reported in the National Enquirer. Someone then asked if there is a list of reliable MSM sources:
Is there a list on Wikipedia of which mainstream media outlets are considered 'reliable' and which media outlets are considered 'tabloid', or is it up to individual users interpretations? Is USA Today 'tabloid'? Is the Drudge Report 'reliable' or 'tabloid' in its individual articles? Is Wikipedai 'tabloid' or 'reliable'?
It turns out that there is no such list of reliable sources upon which Wikipedia depends for confirmation of a story but that everyone should hold off on trying to post anything about it despite the scandal being discussed all over the web:
There is no list of good (nor bad?) sources. However, while the Enquirer's use of anonymous, and paid sources diminishes their wiki-reliability, we should take into account that there is actual first hand reporting on this story. The Enquirer may be "tabloid trash" but they are not always wrong - sometimes they have broken real news stories. On the other hand it is wikipedia policy that exceptional claims require exceptional sources, in particular there should be more than one primary source. So everyone that is trying to add this material should hold off for a while: this "breaking story" is not fully "broken", and as such doesn't belong in an encyclopedia (yet).
Wikipedia then gets on their high horse about a "tabloid source":
Considering that these accusations: (1a) are from a tabloid source that (1b) pays it sources and (1c) often makes false claims; (2) are extraordinary in nature; (3) do not list the accuser; and (4) most definitely does irreparable harm to a politician's career, they are absolutely inappropriate for Wikipedia anywhere... talk pages, articles, or anywhere else. I'm not usually a fan of trimming information via WP:BLP, but this is exactly the type of situation WP:BLP guarantees protection against.
This is followed by a commenter who knocks this claim down a few pegs with inconvenient facts:
In response to point (2): The claim is not "extaordinary. It is the kind of claim made often, and often proven true. In response to points (1b) and (3): there is no "accuser," but there are named witnesses; the only "paid" sources used by the National Enquiere in this case are the paper's own reporters; there are no anonymous sources.
Furthermore, as of tonight, the story is being carried by the Los Angeles Times, Independent (UK), Times (of London, UK), Hartford (CT) Courant, FOXNEws, Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Magazine, etc. Here is an important point about the story, from the Hartford Courant coverage:
"Edwards later issued a brief statement criticizing the tabloids. He didn't address the love child story, though it was the right time to deny it if it isn't true. Whether it's true or not, his behavior was bizarre for a potential attorney general."
Now, is THAT notable? I think so. But if not, at what point -- after how many "reliable" papers take up the story? -- will Wikipedia deem it notable?
The liberal bias of Wikipedia is later exposed when one of their editors, Blaxthos, accuses Fox News of bias as justification as to why it can't be considered a reliable source:
Indeed, we have a notoriously unreliable source making an extraordinary claim. The one security guard who "confirms" the story admits he did not recognize the Senator until later, coupled with the National Enquirer's reputation for paying for stories, is questionable. The Slate.com story, as others note, points out that this is not reliably sourced. FoxNews.com, bias in hand, has only pointed out the claim made by the Enquirer. As Kelly says, this needs some excellent sourcing and stability before we can consider adding it to a BLP.
So Fox News has "bias in hand" according to this editor. This sparks a great response:
Blaxthos, You're an extremely choosy editor. You assume Fox News bias and make a call based on that. What about NY Times bias? The NY Times has been cited to consistently despite the FACT that it IS, in fact, liberally biased. What I'm going to enjoy about this controversy is seeing irrefutable proof presented to the likes of you, Gameamial, and Will BeBack and watching the three of you egomaniacs attempt to weasel your way out of being forced to include it in this Wikipedia entry. And I WILL enjoy watching it because it's only a matter of time before the infallible truth is made public and you three will have to eat crow.
Yes, we are all already enjoying the spectacle of Wikipedia comedically twisting itself into knots to justify the exclusion of any mention of the alleged John Edwards scandal. Something we don't think would have happened had Edwards had the "odious" (R) after his name.
This was only a small excerpt of the entertaining Wikipedia discussion of this topic. I recommend everyone read it for themselves since it continues to be updated and serves as a great example of liberal bias in action on the part of Wikipedia.
H/T: Rush Fan