Wikipedia Weaponization: A dissection of bias

(Language warning)

The controversy over Wikipedia agenda editing and bias is longstanding, as I have reported for several years.

Well-meaning Wikipedia editors are often outmatched and outgunned by more powerful editors who control pages and topics on behalf of vested special interests, or who are deeply, ideologically entrenched.

My own Wikipedia biography is unimportant– except to the extent to which it makes the point about what’s happening across the platform.

Read about the Wikipedia Correction Project

Those interested can read the commentary Wikipedia editors are engaging in about my Wikipedia biography. The discussion on this “talk” page ranges from the obviously biased to the unhinged. Honest Wikipedia editors attempt to weigh in and point out violations of Wikipedia’s own policies made by some editors but they are often drowned out by the nonsense that has become routine.

Check out the Wikipedia alternative “Everipedia,” a new, more accurate and fair (so far) project of Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger.

One of the most disturbing aspects of Wikipedia’s weaponization is the evidence of agenda editors seeking out the subjects they are editing –to harass and attack them.

As I have sought to point out Wikipedia’s bias and mistakes, several Wikipedia editors have threatened to stop me, have found me on Twitter to attack me and my followers, and have taken other steps to otherwise attempt to harass me outside of the Wikipedia platform.

Who would have dreamed that “volunteer editors” for an online encyclopedia would stalk subjects and harass them under a cloak or anonymity?

Watch: “The Dark Side of Wikipedia”

One such Wikipedia editor who attacked me and my followers on Twitter, “Gamaliel,” was discovered to have posted a great deal of profanity and hate on his Twitter feed about a variety of other subjects. (Language warning)

When these hateful tweets were exposed, “Gamaliel” deleted the tweets, blocked those who’d found them, and returned to editing my biography on Wikipedia where he complained on the “talk” page that my followers had attacked him. (Mind you, nobody knew who he was until he sought me out on Twitter to attack me.)

“Gamaliel” then retreated to Wikipedia where other agenda editors such as the conflicted Toa Nidhiki05 sought to soothe his feelings with what amounts to a commendation in the strange underworld of Wikipedia:

Another well known pharmaceutical interest Wikipedia agenda editor, “SkepticalRaptor,” edits my page even though he is also clearly biased. On the “talk” page associated with my Wikipedia biography, for example, he referred to Emmy Awards as “pathetic” and does not recognize that I am, as a matter of indisputable fact, employed as a journalist, as I have been for the past 35 years. “SkepticalRaptor” wrote: “We only provide information that can be sourced and presents a neutral article regarding an anti-science, pseudoscience-pushing right-wing ‘journalist.’ If we’re going to do some fanboi crap here by listing her pathetic list of awards, then that should include adding all of her false anti-vaccine claims over the past few years. That will be fun. SkepticalRaptor (talk) 18:24, 7 June 2019 (UTC)

(Note: I have never expressed anti-vaccine views or reported any false material.)

After simply defending myself in the face of being unable to correct errors and bias on the widely-viewed Wikipedia biography in my name, another editor reacted as though I was the one who started the attacks. He wrote: “On the bright side, knowing from our first hand experience that Attkisson is the sort of person who makes public accusations without evidence does much to help us better understand what our reliable sources are trying to communicate about her. Silver lining and all that. Rklawton (talk) 00:06, 19 June 2019 (UTC)”

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger has separated from Wikipedia due to his objection to the direction it has taken. Read about his Declaration of Digital Independence here.

Once I point out the Wikipedia mistakes, bias and errors; or use Twitter to counter the attacks made by Wikipedia editors; the editors retreat to the “talk” pages of Wikipedia where they complain, oblivious to the notion that they are the ones who prompted the conflict by promulgating false and biased material).

In other words, the Wikipedia editors believe they are free to publish all manners of libel, bias and false information on a subject, but the subject is considered to be out of line if she corrects the record.

Some Wikipedia editors do know better but intentionally resort to attacks and obfuscation as part of a tactic to prevent honest edits from being made to a Wikipedia page. When there is no so-called “consensus” among Wikipedia editors in a dispute, then the status quo– the false and biased information in the case of my biography page– stays put. So an agenda editor need only chew on a dispute over and over, throwing up red herrings and asking for third opinions, until the group declares no consensus can be reached.

Here are a few more of the discussions among some of the Wikipedia editors editing my biographical page, which is supposed to be “neutral” according to Wikipedia policy. You can decide for yourself if these Wikipedia editors sound capable of being neutral.

Fair point, far-right hyper-partisan would be a better description of Sinclair. It’s way to the right of Fox.

Wikipedia editor Guy (Help!) 18:39, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

Sinclair’s political agenda is very noteworthy to an article about Attkisson. She chose to align herself with an aggressively ideological organization.

Wikipedia editor R2 (bleep) 20:04, 28 May 2019 (UTC)

Regarding CNN, NYT, PBS, Washington Post:

None of those organizations are liberal in my view. More importantly, none of them are consistently described as liberal by reliable sources (unlike for example the Huffington Post).

Wikipedia editor Snooganssnoogans (talk) 15:11, 3 June 2019 (UTC)

Attkisson provides no justification for her claims of bias. I can’t help but wonder if her reporting is equally as sloppy.

Wikipedia editor Rklawton (talk) 15:47, 27 May 2019 (UTC)

When another editor noted WIkipedia’s well known problems of bias and inaccuracies:

Please stop using this page as a discussion forum about the failings of Wikipedia. If you continue to do so, I will request that administrators block your IP address.

Wikipedia editor R2 (bleep) 20:31, 8 June 2019 (UTC)

This Wikipedia editor is suspicious after I told them that my birth place on Wikipedia is incorrect:

There’s something odd going on here. In this C-SPAN interview, Brian Lamb said to Attkisson that she was born in Sarasota and she didn’t correct him. There may be more to this than meets the eye. I’m going to keep digging.

Wikipedia editor R2 (bleep) 22:25, 28 May 2019 (UTC)

Sarasota was also listed on old versions of her CBS bio while she worked there. I’m mystified as to why she would now insist she wasn’t born there. And I haven’t managed to find any evidence she or anyone else ever contested these details here.

Wikipedia editor: R2 (bleep) 22:47, 28 May 2019 (UTC)

When a well meaning Wikipedia editor asked for my list of awards after I noted some had been deleted from my biographical page, it elicited this reply:

I’ve removed this entire section as it is completely unsourced, links to unreliable or partisan awards, includes book sales lists, and incorporates non-individual awards. The Emmys might be salvageable but everything here needs sources and including unsourced content at the request of a BLP subject seems incredibly unwise. There is no reason to mention them again in some “awards” section, especially when half of it is just outright bad, other than to provide puffery.

Wikipedia editor ToaNidhiki05 15:24, 9 June 2019 (UTC)

When other well meaning Wikipedia editors balked at “ToaNidhiki05’s” assessment, he retorted:

Also, I don’t appreciate you accusing me of disruptive editing. All I did was remove an unsourced, uanessacry, and puffery-ridden section proposed by the BLP subject. You are accusing me of vandalism, essentially, and that’s unacceptable. I suggest you ether remove/strike your comment or report me to the appropriate noticeboard if you actually think I’m disrupting anything…I have requested a third opinion be offered for this dispute.

Wikipedia editor ToaNidhiki05 20:38, 9 June 2019 (UTC)

And, though I never suggested controlling my Wikipedia biographical article, simply correcting inaccuracies and bias, the pharmaceutical interest agenda editor “SkepticalRaptor” writes:

Subjects of BLPs don’t have a right to edit or control the edits of their article. We only provide information that can be sourced and presents a neutral article regarding an anti-science, pseudoscience-pushing right-wing “journalist.” If we’re going to do some fanboi crap here by listing her pathetic list of awards, then that should include adding all of her false anti-vaccine claims over the past few years. That will be fun.

Wikipedia editor SkepticalRaptor (talk) 18:24, 7 June 2019 (UTC)

There are other sources, so we should be able to document that she’s an antivaxxer. She pretty much follows the Fox News/Trump party line on many of their anti-science issues. —

Wikipedia editor BullRangifer (talk) 15:44, 10 June 2019 (UTC)

A well meaning Wikipedia editor attempted to ask why agenda editor Toa_Nidhiki05 removed the following context from my Wikipedia biography:

“ ‘The fact is, the government has acknowledged there’s a link [between vaccines and autism],’ Attkisson says, citing the recent admission by a senior Central for Disease Control epidemiologist that he and his colleagues improperly omitted from a 2004 study the data that tended to support such a link. ‘They simply say it’s not a causal link’.”

Toa_Nidhiki05 said he removed the quote simply because “it isn’t true.” He went on to falsely state:

Attkisson “falsely makes a contrast between the facts and what she believes, like she has some sort of secret evidence. Her stance on vaccines is already apparent, as is her belief in government conspiracies (mentioned in the January 2019 TV shows). The exact nature of her belief that vaccines cause autism is irrelevant, because it’s flatly false. She believes a casual link exists, and that’s what we note – her misattribution/conspiracy theory about the government isn’t needed. The fact that this has been removed twice now by different editors should give you pause in re-adding it again without consensus. 23:02, 12 June 2019 (UTC)

Wikipedia editor Toa Nidhiki05 23:02, 12 June 2019 (UTC)

Note: I have never expressed any “anti-vaccine” opinions; I have quoted evidence and scientific studies on various sides of vaccine safety issues. Further, I have never reported on any false conspiracies.

The historic use of the phrase “conspiracy theory” as propaganda tool, as used by “Toa_Nidhiki05” in an attempt to controversialize, is well described in my book “The Smear.” Obviously, a rational person knows that many events factually fall under the definition of “conspiracy,” which simply means a plot by more than one person to commit a crime or wrongdoing. There’s nothing controversial about the notion of a “conspiracy” when it is factually true. The mafia is a conspiracy, as were Bonnie and Clyde’s crimes, the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as is most any crime involving more than one criminal. It is not controversial to acknowledge that conspiracies are, in fact, conspiracies. Having said this, my reporting does not involve me alleging “conspiracies,” real or imagined.

Meanwhile, another Wikipedia editor agrees that the government’s acknowledgment of a link between vaccines and autism should not be included, as the Wikipedia editors use my biography to try to (incorrectly) portray the issue as settled science:

“I support exclusion as well. It’s confusing, not obviously relevant, and arguably misleads readers into thinking that fringe views are accurate.

Wikipedia editor R2 (bleep) 23:28, 12 June 2019 (UTC)

So who are these people who make their biased opinions and incorrect conclusions count above all else on Wikipedia?

It’s hard to know, since they edit under a veil of anonymity on Wikipedia. “Toa Nidhiki 05” describes himself as a 24-year old kid from North Carolina; a guy who says he has an alter ego and is really, really into comic books.

If all of that is true, I’ve been investigating vaccine controversies since he was about seven years old. But he appoints himself as Wikipedia’s arbiter of facts and truth on the topic.

This is how Wikipedia works.

Correcting the record

For the few who might be interested, and for the record, the following is a summary of some of the problems that remained on my Wikipedia biography page the last time I checked.

Wikipedia begins by describing me as a “writer.” It is true that I write as part of my job; but I have never described my profession as that of “a writer.” None of my professional contracts describe me as a “writer.” I am an investigative journalist. I have been a journalist for approximately 39 years.

Calling me a “writer” is bit like describing a judge as “a lawyer,” calling a police officer a “a professional driver,” or saying a professor is “a researcher.” These descriptions are all subsets of their occupation, not their occupation itself.

1. Issue: Vaccine issue misrepresentation

A Wikipedia agenda editor recently added this non-cited, unbalanced comment to the top of my biographical page. 

Wikipedia quote:

Attkisson has published stories suggesting a possible link between vaccines and autism, a theory rejected by the scientific community.

First, among my 30+ years of reporting, the vaccine-autism topic is not, likely, even the top 10 topics I reported on most heavily or received the most recognition for. Thus, it is an inappropriate inclusion at the top of the biography. It is only included because certain Wikipedia agenda editors wish to improperly use my biographical page to shape opinion on the vaccine-autism issue, libel me, and falsely portray me as “anti-vaccine.”

Second, the comment is not neutral, is out of context, and is unbalanced since many in the scientific community have not rejected a link between vaccines and autism; and some scientists support the concept of a link. For example, the head of CDC immunization safety has acknowledged that it appears vaccines triggered autism in a child with mitochondrial disorder, as determined in a landmark federal lawsuit that the government sealed so that nobody would know about it. Further, it is libelous and misleading for Wikipedia to imply my reporting has somehow been discredited; though an organized effort has been made by conflicted sources and vested interests to make that appear to be the case.

Third, to the extent Wikipedia editors allow my biographical page to be used to spin on the issue of vaccine safety, it should be balanced with facts such as: 

Many studies and pro-vaccine scientists support the idea of a link between vaccines and autism, including (among many others) former Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Bernadine Healy; the former government medical expert witness in vaccine injury cases, pediatric neurologist Dr. Andrew Zimmerman of Johns Hopkins; Dr. Jon Poling— also a Johns Hopkins trained neurologist; and the current head of immunization safety at CDC Dr. Frank DeStefano. None of these experts was called controversial until they publicly stated that vaccines may– or do– trigger autism in a certain subset of vulnerable children. Only then did they face organized attacks falsely labeling them as “anti-vaccine,” “tin-foil hat” or “discredited.” In fact, by any neutral assessment, they are none of those things.

My reporting on vaccines and autism has been recognized with independent reporting awards and has been cited positively in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.

Watch Sharyl Attkisson’s TedX Talk: “Is Fake News Real?”

2. Issue: Non-sequitur quote from conflicted source/blogger

A Wikipedia agenda editor added this strange non-sequitur to my biography (below) as if to imply that the accuracy of my reporting was challenged or at issue, when it never was.

Wikipedia quote:

Erik Wemple, in his Washington Post blog, said CBS News had greater resources to deal with potential litigation than Attkisson as an individual and commented “if her nearly aired stories are as bulletproof as she suggests, where’s the risk?”[31] He quoted Sonya McNair, a spokesman for CBS News, who had told him the operation “maintains the highest journalistic standards in what it chooses to put on the air. Those standards are applied without fear or favor.”[31]

First, the cited quote is from a blogger, Erik Wemple, who is a well-known supporter of the longstanding propaganda effort by Media Matters and some linked to the Obama administration to attempt to contoversialize my reporting on topics contrary to their interests. Such sources should be considered invalid or, at least, should include the proper context as to their lack of impartiality.

Second, the CBS/Sonya McNair quote is completely out of context and so is presented in a misleading way. The wording included in Wikipedia seems to imply that CBS questioned my reporting. In fact, that was never the case. In fact, all of my investigative reports were approved not only by a series of producers, but I also chose to have them approved by the CBS team of lawyers. I initiated my departure from CBS ahead of my contract expiration because so many of my investigative reports were being spiked for reasons having to do with corporate and political conflicts of interest. The CBS/McNair quote was a defensive response to public reporting about certain CBS personnel inappropriately spiking stories, not because my reporting was questioned. CBS executives worked hard to convince me to remain at CBS, which I agreed to do for a time, and our parting was ultimately amicable.

3. Issue: Media Bias Chart section

Wikipedia agenda editors have improperly slanted my Wikipedia biography by omitting relatively important work, but highlighting relatively unimportant work that they hope can be used to discredit or controversialize me. 

The first inappropriate example they’ve chosen to single out is a “media bias chart” I created. The goal is apparently to falsely portray me as conservative or politically conflicted— a constant theme on my Wikipedia biography.

Wikipedia quote:

In 2017, Attkisson created a media bias chart. According to PolitiFact, this chart “labels anything not overtly conservative as ‘left'”. 

First: A fact error. I did not create the chart in 2017. Wikipedia is apparently relying on false information from a BuzzFeed article.

Second: The media bias chart is hardly one of my more significant projects or writings, so it is strange that it is highlighted among all else in my Wikipedia biography when much more significant work is omitted.

Third: Wikipedia disingenuously fails to note that both PolitiFact and its parent, Poynter, are on the aforementioned media bias chart and therefore should not be cited as if neutral sources. 

Fourth: If Wikipedia wishes to include BuzzFeed’s negative assessment of the “chart” as part of my biography—which seems out-of-place—then it should also include some of the extensive, positive feedback the chart received for its perceived accuracy. As it stands, the section on Wikipedia is one-sided, out of context, and violates Wikipedia policies on neutrality.

Wikipedia quote: 

BuzzFeed News reported in August 2018 that Attkisson indicated on her website that she compiled the “subjective” chart “from various sources and your feedback”.[37]

Again, Wikipedia editors disingenuously fail to note that BuzzFeed also appears on the chart and, so, is not a neutral source on this topic. Further, the BuzzFeed article about the media bias chart contained false and misleading information, which I addressed in this article. (You can read a reprint in full at the end of this post.*) 

Wikipedia quote:

She linked “various sources” to a study from the Pew Research Center, a Washington think tank that BuzzFeed said “measures audience bias, not the alleged bias of an outlet and a college library’s website that cites another college library’s project describing media outlets.” 

Again, Wikipedia quotes BuzzFeed, which is a conflicted source because it is on the chart, and which published false information about it (as detailed in my article). Additionally, the BuzzFeed quote appears to only be included in my Wikipedia biography to falsely imply that my work is misleading or unfair. 

Further, Wikipedia fails to note that I made no grand representations about the media bias chart; quite the contrary. I called my chart “subjective… based on information compiled from various sources and your feedback.” I also noted “…outlets on left and right sometimes publish material that’s on the opposite side of the political spectrum, or that has no political leaning at all. The placement [of a media outlet on the media bias chart] is based on perceived overall tone and audience. Position on the chart doesn’t necessarily imply credibility or lack thereof. Sources on far right and far left have, in many instances, produced excellent, factually correct information at times…Compiling such a chart is obviously difficult for many reasons, some of them having to do with space. The spacing should be considered relative and not an indicator of absolute position.” I also included links to alternate charts, left and right. 

None of this context is included on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia quote:

Attkisson’s chart includes such websites as InfoWars (to which Attkisson is said to link from her own site).[37]

I’m not even sure what the above parenthetical section means, but it appears to be another attempt by a Wikipedia agenda editor to follow BuzzFeed’s lead and controversialize me by trying to associate me with InfoWars. In fact, this Wikipedia passage again lacks context and balance. My blog on the media bias chart included links to several other popular media bias charts so that people can compare and make up their own minds on this subjective issue. The links I used included a widely circulated chart produced by InfoWars; but also charts produced by Pew research center and Media Bias/Fact Check. By Wikipedia cherry picking the mention of one controversial site (InfoWars) and omitting mention of the others I linked to, it shows bias and demonstrates lack of neutrality.

Watch Sharyl Attkisson’s TedX Talk on Astroturf and Media Manipulation

4. Issue: False info in Vaccine Reporting section

The talk page attached to my biography provides the clearest picture of conflicted Wikipedia editors fighting to the mat to include biased, false and libelous information. It makes a prima facie case for why these very editors should be barred from not only editing my page, but also from editing on the issue of vaccine safety. Additionally, it demonstrates their inability to make neutral or fair assessments and decisions. Further, it emphasizes the point that a biographical page is no place to promulgate a one-sided discussion on a contentious issue.

Wikipedia quote: 

Anti-vaccine reporting[edit]

This misleading title, “Anti-vaccine reporting,” forms a false conclusion about my reporting on this topic. There is no fair way that my reporting can be construed as “anti-vaccine.” I have never done a story on anti-vaccine efforts (not that there would be anything wrong with doing a story on the efforts of anti-vaxxers, but it has not been a focus of mine). My reporting on vaccine safety issues is no more “anti-vaccine” than my reporting on Firestone tire safety issues was “anti-tire” or my reporting on Red Cross fraud makes me “anti-charity.” Any implication otherwise is false and libelous.

Wikipedia quote;

Attkisson has published stories linking vaccines with autism; this contradicts the scientific community who reject such a link.[38][39][40] 

It’s irresponsible for Wikipedia agenda editors to attempt to litigate the vaccine-autism issue on my biographical page, and to further do it in such a one-sided fashion. Also, the above passage lacks the context mentioned earlier, that many studies and pro-vaccine scientists have stated there is or might be a link between vaccines and autism. This includes some scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 

Wikipedia passage:

Seth Mnookin, Professor of Science Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, described Attkisson as “one of the least responsible mainstream journalists covering vaccines and autism. Again and again, she’s parroted anti-vaccine rhetoric long past the point that it’s been decisively disproved.”[41]

The above statement is false and libelous. First, my reporting has not parroted anything. Second, my stories have not been “anti-vaccine” in any sense. Third, since many scientists, court cases and published studies have found links between vaccines and autism, it is patently false to call such links “decisively disproved.”

Wikipedia irresponsibly and presents Mnookin as if he is a neutral analyst. However, he is a well known vaccine industry advocate and fanatic who has made numerous false and libelous allegations about me. Additionally, if Wikipedia decides that my biographical page is, indeed, the place to litigate the vaccine-autism issue, then in the interest of neutrality, it should include the fact that Mnookin is himself a controversial and conflicted figure (as demonstrated in many published works); and that many others have recognized my reporting as accurate and fair.

Wikipedia passage:

Anna Kata, an analyst at McMaster University, has accused Attkisson of using problematic rhetorical tactics to “imply that because there is no conclusive answer to certain problems, vaccines remain a plausible culprit.”[42][verification needed] 

Again, Wikipedia cherry picks a vaccine advocate (not a neutral party) and then uses a quote that is unsupported by the footnote referenced: there is nothing at the actual citation that criticizes or even mentions me. Obviously it is a violation of Wikipedia policy to include this passage and quote with an invalid citation… but it’s yet another transparent attempt by an agenda editor to controversialize my reporting.

Wikipedia passage:

In a January 2019 episode of her television show Full Measure, Attkisson mischaracterized statements made in 2007 by a medical expert, Andrew Zimmerman, regarding a hypothetical relationship between vaccines and autism.

This allegation that I mischaracterizaed anything is libelous and false on its face. It is not a matter of opinion, it is provable by examining Dr. Zimmerman’s affidavit (which I posted on my website) and the actual story. It is shocking that Wikipedia would allow this statement to exist on my biography for even a minute.

Further, the article refers to a “hypothetical” relationship between vaccines and autism. This is a mischaracterization since Dr. Zimmerman, the government’s medical expert at the time, concluded there is a relationship between vaccines and autism; nothing hypothetical about it (in his opinion).

Wikipedia passage:

Attkisson falsely said that the Omnibus Autism Proceeding (OAP), which refuted claims of a causal link between vaccines and autism, was based primarily on Zimmerman’s testimony, and that Zimmerman’s nuanced views on the subject were kept hidden from the public by the federal government until 2018; 

This claim is false and libelous on its face. This is a misguided Wikipedia editors attempt to twist my reporting into something it never said. Further, this passage fails to note that the referenced vaccine court agreed that a child’s autism had been cause by her vaccinations. (The case was secretly pulled from the Omnibus proceedings, settled confidentially and sealed so that other parents would not know; but word eventually leaked out). Wikipedia also fails to note that the government has paid many other vaccine brain injury cases that resulted in autism. This context is important or the passage leaves the misimpression that the issue was laid to rest in the negative sense. It was not.

Wikipedia passage:

…the program called [the government’s alleged coverup of the vaccine-autism link, as described by its own medical expert] “one of the most consequential frauds, arguably in human history.”[disputeddiscuss] 

The above passage is the focus of what may be one of the most ridiculous Wikipedia “talk” page discussions among ridiculous discussions. Originally, Wikipedia editors falsely attributed the above quote directly made to me when I never said any such thing.

When I pointed out that I never said the quote, as demonstrated by simply watching the news story referenced, Wikipedia agenda editors then reasoned that it was fair and all-the-same to pretend it was my own quote, anyway, because I “obviously” feel that way.

When some well-meaning Wikipedia editors suggested the quote should actually be attribute to its source (imagine that!), Robert F. Kennedy, Junior, the Wikipedia agenda editors balked and wanted to attribute it to my “program” instead.

I only speculate here, but I assume the agenda editors do not want the quote accurately sourced to Kennedy because the idea that I used him– a far left liberal– in a story, runs counters to Wikipedia’s other major false narrative that I am “conservative.”

Further, the Wikipedia editors falsely claim my vaccine reporting provides no counterpoints and is one-sided. In fact, for every vaccine story I have done, I have sought and represented comments from both sides. Many of my stories, including the one Wikipedia attempts to criticize, begin with me stating that vaccines have saved many lives.

The fact that all of this context is omitted further demonstrates that my Wikipedia biography is not neutral and some of the editors are conflicted.

Wikipedia passage:

…the views that Attkisson said were kept secret had already been made public in 2006 and were noted in the OAP.[44]

The above statement if provably false on its face. The views of the government’s pro-vaccine expert, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman— that the government had covered up and misrepresented his scientific opinion that vaccines cause autism in “exceptional” cases of vulnerable children after all— were not made public in 2006. They were not widely reported until January of 2019 after Dr. Zimmerman signed a sworn affidavit saying so.

Wikipedia passage:

David Gorski was sharply critical of the segment, calling it a “propaganda piece” and a “conspiracy theory”.

Again, Wikipedia cherry picks opinion– this time from Gorski, a well known, conflicted vaccine industry propagandist. Wikipedia omits the many sources who complimented the segment, showing lack of neutrality.

5. Issue: Computer hacking claims section

Once again, Wikipedia editors omit more important and relevant work, but highlight a “computer hacking claims” in a way intended to controversialize me.

Wikipedia passage: 

Computer hacking claims[edit]

The section title is misleading and attempts to controversialize me at the outset. The “computer hacking” is not a “claim,” it is a fact proven though multiple forensics reports and stated publicly by CBS News in a press release.

Wikipedia passage:

…a report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) was released[50] stating that “their investigation was not able to substantiate… allegations that Attkisson’s computers were subject to remote intrusions by the FBI, other government personnel, or otherwise”

This passage is libelous in its implications and apparently based on a propaganda campaign that resulted in widespread misreporting on the topic. The OIG did not examine the primary computer at issue, therefore could not and did not rule out remote intrusions, which have been substantiated by multiple independent examinations. More details regarding the false reporting on this topic are published here.

Wikipedia passage:

…and the deletion seen in Attkisson’s video “appeared to be caused by the backspace key being stuck, rather than a remote intrusion”.

Same issue as above: The implications of the above passage are false and libelous. The OIG did not examine the primary computer at issue, therefore could not and did not rule out remote intrusions, which have been substantiated by multiple independent examinations. More details regarding the false reporting on this topic are published here. Further, the OIG did not examine the separate computer that it claimed had a “stuck backspace key.” (There is no backspace key on that computer, and no key was “stuck.”) More details can be found here.

In conclusion…

Some Wikipedia editors devote a great deal of time on the forum complaining that I am not “going through the proper Wikipedia processes” by publicly discussing their mistakes and bias.

They are apparently unaware of the months of intense efforts I expended years ago “going through the Wikipedia process” with Wikipedia editors, trying to understand the broken system and working within it, only to have well-meaning editors admit to me they were outmatched by agenda editors who are trolling and controlling my page.

Only in the weird world of Wikipedia does this torturous, ineffective system make sense. Only on Wikipedia is it deemed acceptable for libelous and false information to reside on a Wikipedia biography because we are to rest assured — it will eventually be sorted out.

Below is a reprint of my article after BuzzFeed wrote biased and false information in an article about my “Media Bias” chart. That bad information is now quoted on my Wikipedia biography.

*The following is a news analysis

Today I received an inquiry from BuzzFeed reporter Tasneem Nashrulla that appeared so sloppy— even for a writer at a quasi-news site– that it was particularly remarkable.

First, the reporter contacted me only after the article that mentioned me was published. (That’s sort of frowned on in journalism circles.)

Then, when I pointed out the reporter’s errors and misimpressions, and asked for a correction, the reporter and his or her editor declined.

The subject matter was a Media Bias chart I constructed some time ago. (See here.)

See what you think of the BuzzFeed position.

Original email from reporter:

Hello Sharyl,

This is Tasneem Nashrulla, a reporter with BuzzFeed News. I’m writing about President Trump’s claims this morning about Google search results being “rigged” against him to shut out conservative media outlets.

He appears to have seen this on last night’s episode of Lou Dobbs Tonight which cited a PJ Media study that used your Media Bias Chart from 2017 to analyze Google search results on two different computers to test the premise that Google search results had an anti-conservative bias.

I saw that you updated your chart today. Could you tell me what prompted you to update the chart today and what changes did you make to the original chart?

You had earlier included a link to this Lorain County Community College site which contained a list of the political leanings of magazines and newspapers. The link no longer appears in your article. Did you delete the link today and if so, why?

You included a link to a Pew Research Center chart as a source for your media bias chart. The Pew chart says it measures audience bias, not media bias. Can you explain how this study factored into your chart?

Do you believe that your chart is an accurate representation of media bias and if it can be effectively used to analyze Google search results to show that Google has an anti-conservative bias?

We’ve published our story on the study, and will update it with your responses.

Thank you.


My response:

Hi Tanseem!

I did not update chart today. Can you tell me what prompted you to make that allegation?

I did not change the original chart today. Again, please let me know what makes you make that allegation?

If I do update the chart in the future it will be to add new items or change items based on feedback.

I didn’t delete any links or make changes to the article.

Yes I think it’s a pretty accurate representation obviously because I wouldn’t aim to create a chart with an inaccurate representation, but since much rests on matters of opinion, that’s up to the beholder.

Please read the article for caveats and notes such as: Compiling such a chart is obviously difficult for many reasons, some of them having to do with space. The spacing should be considered relative and not an indicator of absolute position. A number of the information sources technically belong on top of one another.

As I stated in my article, there are many views and alternates such as the ones I linked to in the article:

My chart adds to the charts that are out there and can be considered alongside them or as people choose.

I then read the BuzzFeed article that had already been published and followed up with this:

Tasneem, I just looked at your article. I understand what you are aiming to do. Nonetheless, please correct the following misrepresentations:

“Attkisson said she compiled the chart ‘from various sources and your feedback.’ The link on ‘various sources’ is to a Pew Research Center study that measures audience bias, not the alleged bias of an outlet.”

The above sentence implies that I have misrepresented something. I have not. 

“The ‘media bias chart’ includes sites that are not news outlets but peddlers of outright unproven conspiracy theories — such as Infowars.”

The above sentence also seems to imply something improper. I didn’t title it a “news” chart, it’s appropriately titled a “media” chart and Infowars is a media organization. 

“Attkisson also links to more Infowars content on her website explaining the chart.”

The above statement falsely implies that I used “infowars content” to “explain” my chart (as if for sourcing). That’s untrue. As explained in the article, I included links to alternate/opposing charts and one of them is infowars. The infowars chart is not a source for my information but a competing chart, if you will, with different results. Please make this clear in your correction and let me know when it posts. Thanks.

After checking another of the reporter’s allegations, I followed up with this:


Lastly, I checked and the missing Lorain link you asked about isn’t missing, it’s still there where it alway was on the word “sources” at the beginning of the article.

Check your work.

Here’s the BuzzFeed response:

Sharyl, thanks for getting back. We believe we have represented everything appropriately. I’m happy to add a description of the Lorain link to our story.

I was asking about the date because the dateline on your post that contains the chart shows today’s date.



Attkisson Note: On WordPress, to put an old article on the front page requires putting the current date on the article. This apparently led the BuzzFeed writer to falsely conclude — before asking — that I had mysteriously changed or altered the content of my Media Bias chart. I don’t blame the reporter for not understanding the technology, I’m technically challenged myself, but that’s why it is irresponsible to make assumptions and conclusions before you have full information. We should be wise enough to know when there are things we might not know.

I asked to appeal to a supervisor the BuzzFeed decision not to correct the misimpressions in the article. Tasneem connected me to editor, Tom Namako, who almost immediately stated they weren’t going to change the article and stand by it as written.

I asked Tom Namako about Tasneem’s mistakes. He said it didn’t bother him because they were made in an email to me, not in the story. I suggested this reflected something about the quality of the reporter. He said he has confidence in and stands by his reporter.

I asked that Tom correct the misimpressions given in BuzzFeed article, particularly the false implication that I somehow used InfoWars to explain or develop my chart. I pointed out that the InfoWars link I included was among a selection of links at the bottom of my article pointing to alternate media bias charts that are different than mine– so people can consult different views than mine.

Nonetheless, Tom said he said he wasn’t going to change anything in the article because, “The fact is you linked to a conspiracy theory website.”

And that was that.

(Here’s the uncorrected BuzzFeed article followed by a link to the InfoWars chart and the MediaBias Fact Check chart)

Fight improper government surveillance. Support Attkisson v. DOJ and FBI over the government computer intrusions of Attkisson’s work while she was a CBS News investigative correspondent. Visit the Attkisson Fourth Amendment Litigation Fund. Click here.

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7 thoughts on “Wikipedia Weaponization: A dissection of bias”

  1. I personally have experienced the bias at Wikipedia.

    I tried to annotate the the articles on Karl Marx and Frederick Engels with their calls for the racist genocide of the Serbs in their article “The Magyar Struggle” only to have those notations removed by a gaggle of editors who dismissed those remarks as outlier remarks that don’t reflect the “true” sentiments of Marx and Engels.

    At one time, under the article regarding fascism, the editors maintained that genocide was solely a tenet of right-wing movements. When I attempted the edit the article and point out genocide was employed by the likes of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, I was overwhelmed by a gaggle of liberal editors who would not concede the obvious and refused to let my edits stand.

    When I attempted to include a copy of Ben Rhodes’ talking points memo in the article on Benghazi, I was overruled by a team of editors who reversed my comments who claimed that the memo was not pertinent to any discussion on what happened in Benghazi or in its aftermath.

    It was when I attempted to include actual, documented remarks made by the CEO of Planned Parent Hood during a Congressional hearing that I was banned as an editor. I was essentially told I “don’t play well with others” because I insisted on documenting the revelation that PPH was a commercial for-profit enterprise — supplemented by taxpayer dollars — that garnered most of its profits from performing abortions.

    I edited other less controversial articles (Beirut 1983 & Alexander Long) wherein I contributed a major part of the information without incident, although the Beirut 1983 article continues to suffer from on going vandalism, and subsequent editors (not adversarial so much as ignorant) have changed what I wrote because the did not recognize my original intent and purpose to the article. One topic, “Mission Creep”, has been changed so much that it no longer explains what happened. I don’t believe that the editor who completely revamped that subsection even understands the meaning of “Mission Creep”.

    Enough time has now passed, that I can make changes as long as I don’t identify myself by my email handle. The changes I make to Wiki articles now are minor. I don’t have the time or the patience to deal with these left-wing editors camped out on these different topics. There’s a group that protects the PPH article. There’s another group that protects the articles on Hitler and fascism. And there is another group that protects Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Protecting their biases at Wikipedia is what they live for.

  2. Dear Sharyl,

    You’ve really spent a ton of time on this well done article, yet do you truly believe this is going to change a a thing regarding this bias; on Wiki, Twitter, Google, FB or the others? How could your voice, as solid as you are, as factual as you have always been, cause these who are so lost, to actually take note, look into the matters for themselves, and change?

    It isn’t going to happen, and struggling against the tsunami of this now-out-in-the-open-and-blatant bias is really a waste of your talent and certainly your precious time.

    You know how to think. They do not. We learned and developed that “skill” during a time when reasonableness was still in the air, and those times are past and “critical times” are now upon us.

    If you haven’t been there in a while, how fitting is this for TODAY? “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having an appearance of godliness but proving false to its power; and from these turn away. From among these arise men who slyly work their way into households and captivate weak women loaded down with sins, led by various desires, always learning and yet never able to come to an accurate knowledge of truth.”

    Does that not read like every headline we see nowadays?

    I’m on your subscriber list, but I don’t read every note that comes out. This one, however, caught my eye and emphatically substantiates what a total distraction being involved with any of those “authoritative” sites is. Just look back at all the energy and time you spent on this one paper, and the trail of research you had to follow to display the facts, and I’m hoping you will agree.

    So let them go; let them all go, in the continued negative, lying, misleading direction in which they are headed. The bad guys are going to continue to get worse, and they will suck the life right out of you. Like a friend that never gives back; you finally realize it’s best to let them go.

    I appreciate your work, Sharyl. Seldom do I post any of my thoughts, and I Thank You sincerely for your diligence…


  3. Good analysis on how Wikipedia works for you. If this is how it works for you then all Wikipedia content could be tainted. I will still use Wikipedia from time to time, but with a more critical view. Alternatives to Wikipedia are coming along and I will be using them as they mature.

  4. Great article…
    Sharyl, I think they (Wikipedia moderators, special interests) took your reporting on vaccines to the top because this is one of the most “at stake” issues of the day. At stake are many things: the profits, future autism litigation, exposing some of the most corrupted and “trusted” government agencies, and future issues of infectious disease and epidemics in general. And this is a world issue, involving the multi-national corporations, all countries and international organizations (the WHO.) I did research on CODEX before. It is insane how much special interests control.
    I would say, you are the most prominent investigative journalist on the issue of vaccines (at least this is how I have found your website.) I think that a parent’s “informed consent” is not really “informed” until they have have the information you uncovered. “Informed” also meaning being informed about the special interests behind the products required to be given to most children (in the world.)
    I believe this issue is not going away any time soon. The wiping out of religious exemptions in states are prompting more and more people to research this subject, as they have nowhere to turn. Autism rate is 1 in 59, and 1 in 6 children have developmental delays (CDC, )
    And once people do the research on vaccines, your name and your excellent work uncovering the unbiased truth about government lies comes up. Hence, special interests are scared of you and attack you. You are bad for their business.
    It is horrible that wikipedia is doing this, but your website is yours. I, unlike Alan above, am hopeful that reasonableness is still in the air. Information is costly and time consuming, but it is worth it.
    Thank you for exposing Wikipedia, and other special interests.

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