Mark Coleman, Telegraph (London), March 10, 2009
An in-depth report by the online publication WorldNetDaily.com alleged that any negativity surrounding Mr Obama has been deliberately deleted by the online encyclopedia.
Topics routinely “scrubbed”, it was claimed, include Mr Obama’s alleged ties with such controversial figures as the so-called Weatherman terrorist, Bill Ayers, as well as the religious leader, Rev Jeremiah Wright, even though users had complied with Wikipedia rules requiring them to link additions to credible reports from news outlets.
“The current paragraph on Obama’s religion contains no mention of Rev Jeremiah Wright, even though Obama’s association with the controversial pastor was one of the most talked about issues during the presidential campaign,” the report said.
In the report, which could provide new ammunition for Mr Obama’s critics, journalist Aaron Klein wrote: “A perusal through Obama’s current Wikipedia entry finds a heavily guarded, mostly glowing biography about the president.
“Some of Obama’s most controversial affiliations are not once mentioned, even though those associations received much news media attention and served as dominant themes during the presidential elections last year.”
It was also claimed that Wikipedia has forcibly prevented any criticism of Mr Obama’s alleged inability to serve as Commander in Chief.
“Multiple times, Wikipedia users who wrote about the eligibility issues had their entries deleted almost immediately and were banned from posting any material on the website for three days,” Mr Klein claimed.
In one example of allegedly biased coverage, a user was said to have attempted to add reports over recent controversies surrounding Mr Obama’s birth certificate.
But the entry was said to have been removed by a Wikipedia staff member on the basis that the website prohibits “fringe” material, according to WorldNetDaily.com.
By contrast, the study found that coverage pertaining to Mr Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush is far from favourable.
For instance, issues such as Mr Bush’s alleged battle with substance abuse, along with criticism of his handling of Hurricane Katrina, were easy to find on his entry.
Angela Starling, a spokesperson for Wikipedia, denied that the US president had received preferential treatment.
Mrs Starling said that administrators “are simply people who are trusted by the other community members to have access to some extra tools that allow them to delete pages and perform other tasks that help the encyclopedia”.