Leading up to the 2020 Presidential election, Wikipedia editors worked tirelessly to swing articles towards Democratic nominee Joe Biden. This started with slanting articles on President Donald Trump’s impeachment where allegations against Biden figured strongly. It continued with editors pushing the Black Lives Matter agenda on which Biden sought to capitalize and sanitizing pages of his vice-presidential prospects, including Kamala Harris. Finally, editors sought to suppress revelations about Biden family corruption, aided by well-timed restrictions on conservative media.
Many of these efforts have been implicitly supported by the partisan messaging of the site’s owners, the Wikimedia Foundation, which has exhibited an increasing leftward slant in its activities since Trump’s election based off strategies suggested by a public relations firm run by the head of communications for the Clinton Foundation.
These are five ways Wikipedia editors worked to benefit Biden:
1. Slanting Trump Impeachment Articles
As Democrats moved towards impeaching Trump over his conversation with the Ukrainian President about investigating alleged misconduct by Ukrainian officials, editors on Wikipedia sought to emphasize Biden being a target of the Trump administration due to one investigation involving his son Hunter Biden’s dealings with allegedly corrupt energy firm Burisma where he was a paid board member and Biden getting the prosecutor whose office was investigating the firm fired accusing him of corruption, while ignoring that Trump’s main concern was Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. They also portrayed the allegations against the Biden family as conspiracy theories and censored the alleged name of the whistleblower whose complaint sparked the impeachment and reputedly worked with Biden on Ukraine.
2. Advancing Black Lives Matter Agenda
When Black Lives Matter protests broke out following the police-involved death of George Floyd, Biden sought to capitalize on the movement with its rising popularity corresponding to a temporary decline in Trump’s approval. Meanwhile, editors pushed the movement agenda on Wikipedia by downplaying violence associated with the protests, emphasizing police violence, and censoring information harmful to police violence claims. They got content advancing the movement’s agenda and attacking Trump onto Wikipedia’s front page. Even the Wikimedia Foundation came out and endorsed Black Lives Matter, including making implicit attacks on Trump’s law enforcement response to violent protests.
This extended to long-running efforts by Wikipedia editors to defend and support the violent far-left Antifa group. Mention of Antifa’s involvement in the rioting and looting associated with Black Lives Matter protests was censored by editors, including the murder of a Trump supporter in Portland by a self-proclaimed Antifa member who was actively involved in the Black Lives Matter protests. Editors and even administrators with special privileges on the site attacked the murder victim as a “fascist” in discussion pages of the Antifa article. Editors also pushed smears against teenager Kyle Rittenhouse and distorted events surrounding him shooting activists attacking him in Kenosha.
3. Whitewashing Pages of Vice Presidential Choices
Once Biden became the Democratic Party’s uncontested presidential nominee, speculation on his future Vice Presidential pick focused particularly on House Representative Karen Bass and his ultimate pick, Kamala Harris. As the Intercept reported, an editor began sanitizing the page on Harris of various controversies as speculation surged about her being Biden’s choice. Following Breitbart’s coverage of the editor noting his role as an organizer for the Harris presidential primary campaign and the editor admitting to volunteering for both the Harris and Biden campaigns, the editor was banned by an administrator from articles concerning them citing his conflicts of interest. However, many controversies removed by editors have not been restored.
In the case of Bass, editors repeatedly censored any mention of the Representative previously praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro following his death. Editors defending the removals noted the material was being cited to Fox News and argued it should not be used unless other “reliable” sources covered the story. Wired subsequently praised Wikipedia editors for keeping the criticism out of the page for Bass in one of many instances when the outlet and other establishment media would praise the online encyclopedia over its handling of political topics.
4. Censoring Hunter Biden Revelations
Probably the most blatant acts favoring Biden’s campaign came in the last weeks of the election as editors actively censored New York Post revelations involving e-mails purportedly from Hunter Biden’s laptop detailing how he effectively sold corrupt business partners access to his father, then the Vice President. Articles in Fox News and the Daily Caller confirming several of these e-mails regarding business dealings in China and with Ukraine’s Burisma were rejected and the claims labeled “conspiracy theories” in the opening of articles related to the allegations. Due to sources deemed “reliable” on Wikipedia repeatedly invoking “Russian disinformation” claims, the Post’s reporting was included in a “Russian interference” article despite no evidence supporting Russian involvement.
5. Purging Conservative Media
Crucial in allowing the censoring of the Post revelations were rulings against conservative media outlets in an ongoing purge on Wikipedia. Beginning after Trump’s election, the Daily Mail was the first conservative outlet banned from use as a source for factual claims in 2017. The Foundation deemed the decision proof Wikipedia takes “fake news” seriously, and further bans followed. Breitbart’s 2018 ban accelerated this process leading to Daily Caller’s ban in 2019. Efforts to ban Fox News led to it being discouraged as a source for politically contentious claims this July and an attempt against the Post got it deemed “unreliable” in September, just in time to block its Hunter Biden revelations.
Foundation Bias Aiding Biden
The Wikimedia Foundation, spent the past few years playing into a narrative of the online encyclopedia and its policies on “verifiability” being a solution to “fake news” online, despite “verifiability, not truth” being a favored interpretation of the policy’s meaning among editors. Trump’s critics widely cited “fake news” as a factor in his surprise victory in 2016 with fixing it key to guaranteeing his future opponent’s success and Wikipedia was widely utilized by Big Tech in keeping with the Foundation’s messaging. The Foundation seizing on the “fake news” narrative followed a strategy recommended by Minassian Media, run by Head of Communications for the Clinton Foundation Craig Minassian, citing the 2016 election.
Minassian Media also recommended greater political involvement on the part of the Foundation to improve it and Wikipedia’s reputation, something they demonstrated by joining a lawsuit contesting Trump’s travel ban targeting terrorism hotbeds overseas and their Black Lives Matter endorsement. Such left-wing bias on Wikipedia prompted site co-founder Larry Sanger to declare Wikipedia’s “neutrality” policy dead earlier this year. Analyses corroborate this assessment showing its top news sources are often left-wing, particularly on articles about American politicians, and right-leaning editors being six times more likely to be sanctioned. This evident bias has translated not only into editors aiding Biden’s campaign, but repeatedly smearing President Trump and numerous conservative figures.
T. D. Adler edited Wikipedia as The Devil’s Advocate. He was banned after privately reporting conflict of interest editing by one of the site’s administrators. Due to previous witch-hunts led by mainstream Wikipedians against their critics, Adler writes under an alias.