In society today, there is an embarrassing reality that we must face, in which information is so readily available that entire cottage industries have sprung up around the idea of herding and hoarding such knowledge.
Of course, it all began with the mainstream media; an “infotainment” complex of well-paid and ostensibly attractive people telling you what happened today, in their own words. Where are these exorbitant salaries generated? During the commercial breaks that these television personalities are tasked with leading you in and out of.
So, of course, a grain of salt is necessary when getting any information from these wealthy pundits.
In our modern day, however, there is a new realm in which we can find ourselves bamboozled by “facts” and the gatekeepers that control them. I’m speaking, of course, about the internet – a place whose ideas about free speech certainly don’t line up with the reality on the ground.
While most of the discussion about internet censorship and far-left fascism revolve around entities such as Facebook and Google, a new tidbit of information has Wikipedia coming under fire as well.
A report in Huffington Post recently revealed the case of Wikipedia editor Ed Sussman, who was paid by media clients such as NBC and Axios to help diminish critical material. Paid editors operating in a similar manner to Sussman have worked on behalf of CNN contributor Hilary Rosen and the CEOs of Reddit and Intel, among other clients.
Other conduct by Sussman not covered by the Huffington Post shows him authoring fluff pieces for NBC executives and getting his proposed changes approved by another paid Wikipedia editor.
Just how sleazy are the adjustments?
In one example Feinberg cited, Sussman requested changes to the page of Axios journalist Jonathan Swan regarding a false report he made last September claiming Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was resigning. A line noting the incident in Swan’s article was replaced with a paragraph hyping that Swan was “the first to report” Rosenstein’s offer to resign, despite the offer being refused. Sussman backed this spin with a New York Timesarticle treating the incident as a failure of the Axios reporting model, a fact not mentioned in Sussman’s proposed edit.
Many of Sussman’s approved changes to the pages of his clients engaged in this subtle spin and cherry-picking. Changes to the NBC News page defended the network’s refusal to air Ronan Farrow’s story, subsequently published by The New Yorker, on the sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, despite the very sources citedbeing more critical and Farrow’s own criticism of the network’s refusal to air the story. Feinberg identifies similar spin in Sussman’s portrayal of NBC’s handling of sexual assault allegations against the network’s own Matt Lauer.
In the wake of scandals such as the Russian collusion conspiracy theory, the media has paid a heavy price in both dignity and reputation.
Now, it look as though a reckoning may be coming for the internet’s free-speech Gestapo as well.