Editors on Wikipedia have repeatedly added smears about Fox News pundit and journalist Tucker Carlson to the site since his show became a major voice supporting President Donald Trump. This has included attacks over his criticism of the Russiagate collusion narrative, his comments about immigration, his use of “Chinese coronavirus” to refer to the current pandemic, and even trying to minimize a violently threatening Antifa “protest” outside his house where his wife was alone at night.
Some of the editors involved have also been involved in attacking Fox News generally on Wikipedia, including one responsible for much of the negative material on Carlson’s page.
After the recent resignation of the chief writer on Carlson’s show over racially offensive comments he made online, Wikipedia editors began updating the show’s page with the news, sparking battles over what to mention about the controversy and to what extent to cover it with some attempting to add it to the page’s intro. Editors recently added other attacks against Carlson to the show’s page, such as criticism of his comments about Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) support for removing historical monuments in response to protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody. Because of these edits, the page on Tucker Carlson Tonight now consists mostly of negative criticism. Such bias against Carlson has become increasingly common on Wikipedia.
Here are five major cases of Wikipedia editors smearing Tucker Carlson:
While Carlson’s own article previously included mild criticism, it started descending into smears when editor “Snooganssnoogans” began adding negative material, particularly on Carlson’s views about Russia and the anti-Trump “collusion” hoax. This included adding quotes attacking Carlson as an “apologist” on collusion allegations and inflammatory remarks Carlson made about Special Counsel Robert Mueller over the investigation. Another editor, Phillip Cross, added a former Obama Administration official’s quote attacking Carlson as “defending Putin” cited to articles in Salon and the Guardian, the third most-cited news outlet on Wikipedia. Cross is banned from Wikipedia articles about modern British politics for agenda-driven edits smearing anti-war figures, conduct which received international media coverage.
Immigration and South African farm attacks
Snooganssnoogans has been one of the most prolific editors in adding attacks on Carlson’s page with a particular focus on his comments about immigration, having initially added the section for the topic on Carlson’s page with a statement Carlson has been accused of “demonizing” both legal and illegal immigrants. In a pattern demonstrated at many articles on conservatives, Snooganssnoogans extensively documented every controversial or inflammatory statement about immigration on Carlson’s show that has been criticized. Snooganssnoogans has also repeatedly sought to associate Carlson with white supremacists or accuse him of promoting white supremacy and fought vigorously against any attempts to remove such claims.
Other editors helped smear Carlson’s over his views on immigration. One editor added claims Carlson’s commentary advanced a “white genocide conspiracy theory” citing the Anti-Defamation League and Amanda Marcotte at Salon, who quoted the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center. The editor added similar smears about Carlson when putting him on a list of “white genocide conspiracy theory” advocates alongside President Trump and other conservatives. The list defined it as a “Neo-nazi” conspiracy theory. Carlson’s commentary on South African farm attacks was also cited against him by Snooganssnoogans in furthering the “white genocide conspiracy theory” smear and editor “Volunteer Marek” helped fight to keep the smear on Carlson’s page.
“Neo-Nazi slogan” smear
After Carlson did a segment in 2018 criticizing outrage over fliers containing the slogan “It’s OK to be white”, a 4chan meme, Newsweek published an article with the headline “It’s OK to Be White: How Fox News Is Helping to Spread Neo-Nazi Propaganda” and accused Carlson of “pushing forward a meme promoted by white supremacists” in his program. Several months later, Volunteer Marek added a section to Wikipedia’s Fox News page titled “Neo-Nazi propaganda and slogans” citing Newsweek. Marek also cited the Anti-Defamation League claiming “it’s only okay to be white” was the phrase’s subtext. The ADL source didn’t mention Carlson, an apparent violation of Wikipedia’s original research policy.
When an editor removed the section Marek restored it, but then quickly undid his own restoration. His change of heart was due to a restriction on the article requiring consensus on the article’s discussion page before restoring a new edit that has been undone. Marek and other left-wing editors have previously criticized the restriction’s use on political articles. “SPECIFICO”, an occasional collaborator with Marek, tried getting the edit approved, but the discussion saw low participation ending in a stalemate with opponents arguing the section was “undue” as it only cited one source. One editor suggested the article wouldn’t even belong on the page specifically for Fox News controversies.
Downplaying Antifa attack
Editors have also downplayed Antifa targeting Carlson’s home at night. When one editor cited policy on Wikipedia not being biased towards news events to justify removing material Volunteer Marek added to Carlson’s page on a controversy over recently surfaced decade-old offensive comments Carlson made about women on a radio show, Marek responded by repeatedly deleting a section on Antifa’s attack claiming it was the real violation of the policy and sparked a battle over the content. Marek’s position stands in stark contrast to his previous effort to push on the Fox News article for accusing Carlson of promoting a “Neo-nazi slogan” citing a single news article.
Ultimately, a discussion agreed to keep mention of the incident, but stripped out details such as Carlson’s wife being home alone at the time and several violent acts and threatening comments Antifa made then and the next morning. One editor later removed the chant Antifa members recited warning Carlson they “know where you sleep at night.” Presently, the material only mentions a “protest” at Carlson’s home that was dispersed within minutes by police and one instance of vandalism. Material on Antifa’s Wikipedia page similarly omits most of the violently threatening nature of the “protest” by Antifa and the fact Carlson’s wife was the only one at the house.
Following Antifa attacking journalist Andy Ngo and Antifa supporters censoring mention of the attack on the group’s article, an editor suggested a section for Antifa attacks on journalists to include it alongside the attack on Carlson’s house. Multiple editors rejected this suggestion, one claiming neither were journalists. As editors censored Antifa involvement in the Floyd riots from the page, self-described anarchist Davide King tried to add material rationalizing the attack on Carlson’s home by citing the ADL and SPLC’s claims Carlson advances white supremacy. When this was rejected, King mentioned Carlson’s support for Trump to imply this was a rationalization for the attack.
Usage of “Chinese coronavirus” term
On a page specifically for “Fox News controversies,” an editor added a section about the outlet’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and specifically criticized Carlson for using the term “Chinese coronavirus” when discussing the disease. Citing left-wing group Media Matters, the section characterized Carlson’s s use of the term as “Sinophobic” and similarly accused other Fox News pundits of the same. The section further accused Carlson of advancing a “conspiracy theory” by suggesting the possibility the virus originated as part of a lab accident, a theory some in the United States government reportedly view as a likely explanation for the outbreak.
Targeting Fox News
Biased editors such as Volunteer Marek and Snooganssnoogans have long been involved in attacking Fox News and those associated with it, such as pundit Mark Levin and frequent guest Candace Owens. Sections for criticism and controversy on the page for Fox News currently take up over half its article just as criticism of Carlson takes up over half the article on his show. Shortly after Trump took office these sections for Fox News on its Wikipedia page were a quarter of their current size with the prodigious growth due largely to edits by Snooganssnoogans, who is responsible for many of the smears on Carlson’s page.
Treatment of rival outlets such as CNN by Wikipedia editors presents a stark contrast indicative of the site’s left-wing bias, a bias criticized by the site’s own co-founder. For instance, Marek previously helped gut Wikipedia’s article on CNN Controversies following the network’s Redditor blackmail scandal. In a series of edits, nearly a third of the material on the page was removed even when backed by sources considered “reliable” on Wikipedia. CNN’s controversy page then was roughly the same size as the one for Fox News, but these edits promptly reduced it to two-thirds the size. A controversy section on CNN’s main Wikipedia page is just two percent of its content.
Wikipedia’s problems with bias are significant given widespread reliance on the site. Levin and Owens both had Wikipedia attacks on them repeated in media outlets that used Wikipedia’s information, a problem Breitbart previously reported on regarding the site’s biased page on the GamerGate anti-corruption movement in gaming where major outlets and even academic textbooks copied extensively from the page without credit. In addition to news media, scientific literature and Big Tech companies rely heavily on the online encyclopedia.
(Disclosure: The author has been involved in disputes with several of the parties mentioned in the article)
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.