Conservatives have long been blowing the whistle on Wikipedia’s leftist bias. The site’s co-founder Larry Sanger apparently agrees with them.
In a blog post last week, Sanger argued that Wikipedia has abandoned all neutrality in the name of avoiding what activist journalists call the “false balance” – the idea that not all opposing views of an argument should be given equal time. He goes through several pages to support his thesis, noting the rather charged language often employed.
When comparing the pages for former President Barack Obama and the current President Donald Trump, the differences are night and day, with the former receiving overwhelmingly positive treatment while the latter is frequently portrayed negatively.
“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,” argued Sanger.
“A fair article about a major political figure certainly must include the bad with the good,” he continued. “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.”
Though some might claim the information is “objectively correct,” Sanger asserted that nobody can claim they are objectively neutral. In contrast to Barack Obama’s glowing treatment, Donald Trump is treated as if he does only wrong.
“The idea that the Donald Trump article is neutral is a joke,” he wrote. “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,” he continued. “You might approve of Wikipedia describing Trump’s incorrect statements as ‘false,’ very well; but then you must admit that you no longer support a policy of neutrality on Wikipedia.”
Wikipedia is badly biased. The original policy long since forgotten, it no longer has an effective neutrality policy. It now touts controversial opinions on politics, religion, and science.
And examples have become embarrassingly easy to find.
My latest: https://t.co/Lis4z93mft
— Larry Sanger (@lsanger) May 14, 2020
After going through several more pages, including some rather biased language in reference to the existence of Jesus Christ and the abortion argument, Sanger concludes by calling on Wikipedia to just come clean and admit it no longer practices fair neutrality.
“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 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,” Sanger wrote. “Of course, Wikipedians are unlikely to concede any such thing; they live in a fantasy world of their own making.”
Sanger has been critical of Wikipedia’s practices since 2002.