by Eva Bartlett
from RT Website
(inset) Larry Sanger.
This was not his first time speaking out against Wikipedia.
Personally, I was surprised to
learn that Wikipedia was ever neutral.
In his more recent post, 'Wikipedia is More One-Sided than Ever', Sanger wrote:
I would extend his criticism to note that it is not only conservative views that are censored, but anti-Imperialist views, health care, and, specifically in the case of Syria, voices who have reported extensively from on the ground and contest official narratives about the country.
These include me and British journalist Vanessa Beeley.
Not coincidentally, we have both been subjected to relentless smear pieces from the Western media and the self-proclaimed fact checkers of Snopes, branding us cheerleaders for terrorists in Syria.
Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the wiki-smears on us consists of those character assassination articles.
There are of course many more voices who have reported honestly on Syria but, for some reason, I couldn't find smear entries on them. On the contrary, some have what appear to be glossy PR entries of a more biographical nature, lauding their work.
But for Vanessa Beeley and I, although much biographical information on each of us is widely available online, the Wiki entries remain devoid of the usual bios and instead are just designed to discredit us.
Sanger noted that,
He went on to detail what this "neutrality" means or should mean.
He went on to give numerous examples of Wikipedia's stark lack of neutrality on critical issues. For the sake of brevity, I would encourage readers to check out on Sanger's article for the full list.
However, let's look at the entries on myself and Vanessa Beeley.
Mine refers to me as,
Relegating me to a "blogger" was clearly intended to dispute my credentials as a journalist.
Credentials which the Mexican Journalists' Press Club deemed journalistically credible enough to award. Likewise, award-winning journalist and filmmaker John Pilger more recently deemed my latest article on the Douma chemical hoax an "outstanding report."
The Wiki smear also states that I "write op-eds for the television network RT." For a while, that line read, "She blogs for the Russian-controlled outlet RT", a bogus claim that many journalists (including the fact checkers of Channel 4) have copy-paste repeated without bothering to see that, like tens of other journalists, what I write is actually for the op-edge section of RT's website.
The entry goes on to cite from the litany of smear articles against me since 2016, smears which I have refuted, and which always read the same: copy-paste character assassinations that whitewash terrorism in Syria.
Then, there is the clear instance of libel:
In fact, my August 2017 trip to the DPRK was not paid for by any government, but by myself, with some support from a colleague who knew I lived on a shoestring.
This lie was most recently regurgitated by British journalist (and I use that term generously) Brian Whitaker.
Any defamation lawyers out there?
Similarly, the Wiki smear entry on Vanessa Beeley relegates her to mere "blogger" status (although John Pilger thinks highly enough of her, and myself, to have highlighted our "substantiated investigative work") and in 2018 she was included on a list of the most respected journalists in the UK.
It includes the same "conspiracy theories and disinformation" line that mine does, as well as the usual, predictable anti-Russia rhetoric.
But even I was shocked to see Wikipedia's claim that Beeley has,
When I asked her about this, she replied:
So there we have it. Not only are the entries not even close to neutral, each contains outright fabrication in addition to the character assassinations.
At some point in 2018, I shared an email I had received from a Wikipedia editor, which noted:
And indeed, supporters told me they had contacted Wikipedia to challenge the smear entry on me and were successful in making changes to read more fairly. Yet, in short time, the entry returned to nearly exactly as it had originally been.
The Wikitalk portion of the smear entry on me points out:
But no, that hasn't happened in my entry.
On the same page, supporters called Wikipedia out:
Another critic of the entry pointed out the sources used were "questionable", including noting that one source, Al Jazeera, is,
In his June post on Wikipedia, Larry Sanger wrote:
Similarly, Vanessa Beeley had this to say on the matter:
Unfortunately, many will first come across the wiki entries on myself and colleagues, and many will stop there. But, after all the smears, my skin has grown thick and I'm at peace with the fact that I know I've reported honestly.
I highly doubt the editors behind such Wiki smears can say the same of their edits.