Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger published a blog post last week analyzing the site’s left-wing bias. Examining articles about Donald Trump’s impeachments, the Black Lives Matter protests and riots, Joe Biden’s scandals, and the 2020 election, Sanger argued Wikipedia’s coverage is so extremely left-wing that it constitutes propaganda. He partly blamed an ongoing purge of conservative news sources on Wikipedia which includes Breitbart News. Sanger warned these developments made Wikipedia “a kind of thought police” and “an opponent of vigorous democracy.”
Much of Sanger’s Wikipedia criticism corroborates the reporting of Breitbart news. Previously, Sanger has claimed the site’s “neutrality” policy is dead and its commitment to it “long gone” due to left-wing bias.
In his June 30 post, Sanger declared, “Wikipedia Is More One-Sided Than Ever” and reiterated his past statements about the original intent of the site’s neutrality policy. Sanger stated that the policy meant “you will find competing sides represented carefully and respectfully” rather than one side being excluded because it was deemed “wrong” by other editors. He backs this up by citing the page for the neutrality policy itself, which states: “Wikipedia aims to describe disputes, but not engage in them.” Sanger further explaines the reasoning behind the policy as “no one has a right to make up your mind for you, especially in an open, global project.”
To determine whether Wikipedia met this original standard of neutrality, Sanger analyzed how Wikipedia addressed several sensitive political topics from the past few years: Trump’s impeachments, Biden scandals, the Antifa and Black Lives Matter protests and riots, and alleged election irregularities. His analysis of these topics on Wikipedia aimed to “briefly summarize the warring views on them, and then look and see whether these views are presented neutrally, in a way that allows the reader to make up his own mind.”
On Trump’s impeachment proceedings, Sanger examined whether Wikipedia’s pages on the proceedings properly depicted the opposing views of Republicans and Democrats regarding the underlying allegations. He cited Trump’s own article as only presenting the Democrat perspective on the first impeachment, where Democrats claimed Trump abusively pressured Ukraine into investigating Biden concerning his and his son’s actions in the country. The Republican view that Trump’s actions were proper due to genuine concerns about criminal activity was absent. Regarding the trial, Sanger noted Trump’s article omitted that his lawyers denied any abuse of power, but instead only stated they “did not deny the facts as presented” in the charges.
Previous reporting by Breitbart News noted such issues with Wikipedia essentially repeating the Democratic Party’s spin on the Ukraine controversy and consequent impeachment, particularly by giving greater prominence to his mention of Biden when his primary focus was discerning the role of Ukrainian officials in the phony Russia collusion hoax as well as dismissing Republican concerns about Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. Editors went further by censoring the alleged name of the “whistleblower” behind the impeachment narrative who reportedly worked closely with Biden during the Obama Administration and was suspected of political bias against Trump.
Wikipedia’s page on Trump, Sanger noted, did not include any details on arguments regarding Trump’s second impeachment over claims he incited the storming of the Capitol on January 6. However, he noted the article on the impeachment itself stuck to presenting just the Democrat side of the issue in the background section without presenting Trump’s response. An opposition section in the article only showed opposition from Senate Republicans, completely ignoring House opposition. Sanger commented regarding Wikipedia coverage of Trump’s impeachments that “Wikipedia took the Democrats’ side against Trump, period. The articles are so biased, in fact, that it is fair to call them ‘propaganda.’”
Examining Wikipedia coverage of Biden scandals, specifically concerning his son Hunter Biden’s allegedly corrupt business dealings, Sanger argued a neutral approach would present each side’s evidence and arguments without declaring guilt or innocence. However, he noted Wikipedia’s article on Biden presents a version of events favoring the family’s innocence on allegations related to Ukraine and not clearly describing what wrongdoing was alleged. Major evidence, such as Biden’s son’s alleged laptop containing details about the family’s business dealings, goes unmentioned. Sanger notes an article exists on the allegations, but it labels them a “conspiracy theory” and “false” before becoming what Sanger calls a “hit piece” on Biden’s critics.
Allegations regarding the Biden family’s business dealings in China are almost completely absent from Wikipedia. Sanger attributes this to the fact many sources covering the allegations were conservative media outlets, which are mostly banned from use as sources for factual claims with Fox News specifically barred from use on contentious political topics. The New York Post, the outlet that broke several stories on the Biden scandals, was declared “unreliable” on Wikipedia just a month prior to the election, meaning the stories could not be cited on Wikipedia. Breitbart reported on many of the same issues with Wikipedia’s handling of the Biden family scandals and a general pattern of editors supporting the Biden 2020 Presidential campaign.
Coverage of last year’s Black Lives Matter and Antifa protests and riots were noted by Sanger to be somewhat better in the early parts of the main article by giving significant mention to violence. However, Sanger stated the article gradually became more biased by failing to note declining support for Black Lives Matter in the article introduction after mentioning an initial uptick, avoiding black crime statistics when discussing how a greater percentage of police incidents involved black people, and avoiding criticism of the movement itself.
Last year, Breitbart noted many other ways editors have been advancing the agenda of the Black Lives Matter movement such as downplaying violence and censoring criticism of figures treated as victims of police misconduct by the movement. Editors even established a Black Lives Matter group on Wikipedia that got items pushing the movement agenda on the site’s front page. The Wikimedia Foundation itself, which owns Wikipedia, endorsed the movement. Not mentioned by Sanger was how articles about Antifa have been repeatedly slanted in favor of the violent far left movement by its supporters, including censoring mention of an Antifa member murdering a Trump supporter.
Regarding allegations of misconduct and fraud in the 2020 Presidential election, Sanger notes that articles on the topic treat such allegations as false and frame them as part of an “attempted coup” by Trump. He notes the article on the storming of the Capitol by protestors wanting the allegations investigated paints it as spurred on by Trump’s rhetoric, while ignoring questions about far-left agitators being involved. At least one leader of an Antifa group has been charged for encouraging violence at the Capitol. On Wikipedia’s election coverage, Sanger concluded: “Wikipedia is firmly aligned with one political party, and its articles on the 2020 election read like party propaganda.”
As Breitbart reported, Wikipedia editors in several cases misrepresented evidence of fraud or other misconduct during the election to discredit the claims and banned critics of Wikipedia’s slant on the matter and on the Capitol protests. This bias included making an article on the Nazi “big lie” claim focus heavily on the fraud allegations, simultaneously minimizing the term’s historical use by the Nazis to attack their opponents, and editors even suggesting the GamerGate anti-corruption movement in gaming was responsible for the storming of the Capitol.
Other than the four major politics topics Sanger analyzed, he also identified bias in entries regarding the coronavirus pandemic treating mask-wearing and lockdowns as effective without noting dissenting viewpoints and material treating claims of the virus originating in a Chinese lab as “misinformation” despite growing mainstream acceptance of the claims as a legitimate theory. Sanger also notes bias in Wikipedia’s coverage of Christianity, which focuses on the decline of major denominations rather than the growth of smaller conservative denominations. An article discussing Christian stances on recognizing same-sex marriage, Sanger notes, completely omits theological opposition to such recognition.
Noting these various examples, Sanger concludes his blog post by stating “Wikipedia openly repudiates neutrality” and criticizing the continued touting of its neutrality policy as hypocrisy. He further rejects suggestions that Wikipedia is merely reflecting the mainstream by stating some of the mainstream is conservative, yet these views are not reflected due to the outlets being banned as sources on Wikipedia thus meaning “only globalist, progressive mainstream sources—and sources friendly to globalist progressivism—are permitted.” Rejecting this recent move to purge conservative media, Sanger states editors pushing it “want to set the boundaries of the debate, and they want to tell you how to think about it.”
Discussing the implications of this biased shift on Wikipedia, Sanger argues the site has “made itself into a kind of thought police that has de facto shackled conservative viewpoints with which they disagree.” Going further, in arguing that “Democracy requires that voters be given the full range of views on controversial issues, so that they can make up their minds for themselves” Sanger declares Wikipedia “has become an opponent of vigorous democracy.” Sanger concludes by warning “the wealthy and powerful need only gain control of the few approved organs of acceptable thought” in order “to manipulate and ultimately control all important political dialogue.”
Earlier this year, Sanger issued similar concerns about Wikipedia’s political bias and its adherence to its neutrality policies in an interview with Fox News for an article analyzing how Wikipedia pages on communism and socialism ignored serious repressive atrocities committed by governments espousing those ideologies. A blog post by Sanger last year previously analyzed Wikipedia’s coverage of science issues, as well as its coverage of scandals in the Trump and Obama Administrations. It also cited the site’s article on Jesus Christ as “a ‘liberal’ academic discussion” dwelling “on assorted difficulties and controversies” rather than explaining “traditional or orthodox views of those issues.”
Claims of Wikipedia’s left-wing bias have also been validated by studies and analyses. Such bias has serious implications. On and prior to Election Day last year, Wikipedia page traffic related to Biden and Trump showed significant spikes. While analysis of the impact political bias might have has not been conducted, studies have found Wikipedia shapes scientific literature and economic decision-making. Earlier this year, a chemistry textbook was retracted due to allegedly plagiarizing Wikipedia and media have also extensively copied the site. Big Tech increasingly relies on Wikipedia against “fake news” online, despite spreading hoaxes itself. This influence further validates Sanger’s concerns about Wikipedia’s potentially harmful impact on society.
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.