"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

How Not to Sanitize Your Image 

Wikipedia is one of my favorite pages on the 'Net, but I do recognize that there are problems with its egalitarian approach. If you let just anybody edit the content, there will inevitably be some mischief done from time to time. For example:
Someone from Sen. Conrad Burns' office apparently edited the senator's entry on the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia in January to remove a controversial remark he had made about Arabs, the Web site reported Tuesday.

A recent investigation by Wikinews -- Wikipedia's fact-checking service -- found that an unknown editor using an Internet protocol address assigned to the Republican senator's office removed references to a comment Burns made in 1999 calling Arabs "ragheads" and his voting record on Native American issues.

The same person then inserted a glowing paragraph describing the senator as a "voice for the farmer."

And how does the Gentleman from Montana respond? By blaming the victim, of course:
Burns' spokesman James Pendleton dismissed Wikinews' findings when asked about it Wednesday, pointing to the site's open-source nature.

"They have exactly zero credibility," he said. "Because there is no fact-checking, anybody can go in and put in whatever they want."

Well, yes, but in this instance it wasn't "anybody" who spoofed the entry, it was someone posting from the Senator's own office. Still, I admire Pendleton's chutzpah, and his creative use of the "Otter defense":
Flounder, you can't spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You fucked up - you trusted us!




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