Update: Writer Used a Researcher to Invent an Obama Wikipedia Scandal

Aaron Klein, the WorldNetDaily writer who invented a scandal about Wikipedia censoring an article about Barack Obama, demanded we retract that claim because, in fact, he had someone else do the work for him.

According to Klein, Jerusalem bureau chief for the extreme-right-wing website, he is not "Jerusalem21," the Wikipedia user whose rejected edits to the Obama article formed the centerpiece of Klein's reporting. Wired and other publications raised questions about Jerusalem21's identity when a blogger noted that Jerusalem21's sole contributions to the free online compendium were edits to the Obama page and Klein's own Wikipedia article.

"I am not 'Jerusalem21,' but I do know the Wikipedia user (he works with me and does research for me), and I worked with him on this story," Klein writes, adding that he "personally" oversaw "Jerusalem21"'s edits. In other words, Klein masterminded the creation of the supposed scandal he wrote about.

Klein doesn't see things quite that way. He claims our article was "defamatory." But the truth cannot defame. Klein himself freely admits that he was intimately involved in the creation of the supposed news event he wrote about. Here's Klein having his say:

Mr. Thomas —

I demand an immediate retraction of your Gawker article today, which is defamatory. (http://gawker.com/5167585/right+wing-writer-invents-his-own-obama-wikipedia-scandal)

Your headline states as fact, "Right-Wing Writer Invents His Own Obama Wikipedia Scandal." You then quote from Wired.com, which, you relate, stated that one Wikipedia user cited in my article is "almost certainly Klein himself." "Almost certainly" is not enough to justify your very certain, defamatory title.

First, I am not "Jerusalem21," but I do know the Wikipedia user (he works with me and does research for me), and I worked with him on this story, which focused on investigating allegations I had received from others of Wikipedia scrubbing Obama's page. I wanted to personally oversee whether indeed criticism of Obama was being deleted. For your information, often investigative journalists engage in exactly this kind of testing – like seeing if they can bypass mandatory disclosures while donating to a candidate (several newspapers did this prior to the November election), or if they can register a dog to vote in Illinois. Thus, even if I had personally edited Obama's page as a test to investigate allegations of scrubbing, this is entirely legitimate journalistic practice.

Second and more importantly, your article is entirely misleading; it paints a picture that my piece from yesterday was reliant simply upon "Jerusalem21" being barred from entering information on Wikipedia that is critical of Obama, suggesting the controversy was both "invented" and based on that one account.

But my article from yesterday notes that "multiple times, Wikipedia users who wrote about the eligibility issues had their entries deleted almost immediately."

The article further notes that WND monitored Obama's Wikipedia page for one month and observed as criticism on all kinds of issues (Ayers, Wright, etc) was scrubbed. This can easily be confirmed independently by simply going through the tens of thousands of attempted edits to Obama's Wikipedia page and seeing how a large number of critical edits are erased, including edits seemingly backed up with third-party media references.

Further, WND published a follow-up today noting many users were still being blocked from attempting to add key issues to Obama's Wikipedia page and other pages, quoting some users. See: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=91257. Indeed, WND has been flooded the past two days with e-mails from readers with their own "Wikipedia stories" of how they were barred from entering what they claim is legitimate, backed-up criticism on Obama's Wikipedia page.

My article from yesterday noted what is clearly a major trend at Wikipedia and is a very legitimate piece. I demand your Gawker article be immediately corrected. The title must be changed, the false accusations about "Jerusalem21" must be updated and the article should note the wider trend on Wikipedia outlined above, instead of wrongly claiming the controversy is limited to one user. Do not simply and misleadingly update your article just by stating that I know "Jerusalem21" and leaving in the defamatory portrayal that I somehow invented a controversy, when indeed there is indisputably a much wider, documented trend.

Sincerely,
Aaron Klein
Jerusalem bureau chief, WorldNetDaily.com