Wikipedia, the online crowdsourced encyclopaedia which have been facing controversy due to its obvious leftist bias in its editorial decisions, have categorised a major American media house, Fox News, as being unreliable. Fox News is considered to be leaning towards right-wing, and is disliked by left-wing intellectuals.
Earlier, Fox News was categorised as a green-level source on the Reliable sources/Perennial sources of Wikipedia, but not it has been downgraded to yellow-level, which means editors are advised to exercise caution while quoting Fox News for articles. A discussion on the reliability of Fox News website is still going on Wikipedia editors and administrators. In the discussion for Fox News, there was no consensus on its reliability, the media house has been still downgraded to yellow level by the administrators saying that there was no consensus.
Administrators overrule editors
The downgrading of the news network followed an intense discussion on Wikipedia. During the discussion, while most contributors said that the talk and opinion shows on the network are biased, the network is pro-Trump, and they have been criticising rioting and violence in the name of the Black Lives Matter protests, the normal reports of the network are reliable. Several editors pointed out that Fox News appreciates fact-checking of its reports and issues corrections whenever errors are pointed out, which proves that the news network is reliable.
It is notable that while the discussion was on reliability of Fox News as a source of Wikipedia articles, almost everyone who opposed it cited the talk and political commentary shows on the network, and not their plain news reports. Such shows generally tend to be biassed towards one narration or the other, and opinion articles and shows are not used as a source for Wikipedia articles. There was no major complaint of regular news reports of the network being biased. Despite the fact that most people agreed that their new reports are not biased, and only their opinion shows are biased, three Wikipedia administrators concluded the discussion saying that “there is no consensus regarding the reliability of Fox News”, and then went on to downgrade it. They have mentioned that for science and political referencing there is no consensus regarding the reliability of Fox News, but for other subjects it is generally considered reliable.
Consensus on Wikipedia
Although all editorial decisions in Wikipedia are supposed to be decided by consensus among editors, the reality is different. Being a crowdsourced platform where any internet user can make contributions, it is virtually impossible to arrive at a consensus on most subjects. The consensus is not at all possible in where there are diverse views, and often, it is select few Wikipedia administrators take a decision after closing the discussions. And they make the decision based on their personal opinion, not based on majority views. There is no voting on Wikipedia, and no matter how strongly one makes a point, it may be overruled by others. In theory, an article should represent all different views on it, but in reality, only one side’s opinion prevails, which often happens to be the left-liberal view.
Perhaps reacting to the Fox News downgrading, The co-founder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, who is no longer involved with Wikipedia, tweeted on Saturday that “consensus” is not possible on Wikipedia. He said that it stopped being something that can be taken seriously in around 2002.
I hate to break it to you #Wikipedia fanbois: “consensus” is not possible on Wikipedia. It stopped being something that can be taken seriously, I’d say, in 2002.— Larry Sanger (@lsanger) July 24, 2020
You really do need to develop a new and better way of deciding disputes; “consensus” is silly propaganda.
Larry also said that when he was associated with Wikipedia, the policy was the presentation of many competing theories on a wide variety of subjects, which suggested that the creators of Wikipedia trust readers’ competence to form their own opinions themselves. But “Wikipedia DESPISES this view today”, he said.
He said that after the last version of “Neutral point of view” policy that he had wrote in 2002, the policy has changed a lot and now it is complete opposite.
Wikipedia vs OpIndia
Wikipedia’s already known left bias was evident in the way OpIndia is represented on it. 3-4 years ago, when a simple neutral article on OpIndia was published on the Wikipedia, it was deleted by leftist editors saying the website is not worthy of a Wiki article. But one year later, the same people who had deleted it created a new page on OpIndia, which is highly negative towards the portal. The senior editor who wrote it made baseless allegations against OpIndia in the article, and anyone who tried to counter that was silenced with threats of ban, and any such edits were removed. With a pronounced Left bias in the platform itself and even in the community-driven editors, the OpIndia page on Wikipedia really did not stand a chance at neutrality.
In another instance, Wikipedia’s left-liberal bias was evident on the page on Delhi riots. While the Wiki page portrayed BJP leader Kapil Mishra as the mastermind behind the riots, the editors had refused to even mention the name of AAP leader Tahir Hussain, after the videos of him leading the riots from his house had went viral on social media. The editor who is also behind the negative article on OpIndia had said that IC official Ankit Sharma, who was stabbed multiple times and was tortured to death, “was not notable enough” to be mentioned in the Wikipedia article.
The co-founder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, who is no longer involved with Wikipedia had gone on the record to talk about the bias of the online encyclopaedia. Sanger had written that it has long forgotten its original policy of aiming to present information from a neutral point of view, and nowadays the crowd-sourced online encyclopaedia “can be counted on” to cover politics with a “liberal point of view”.
The downgrading of Fox News on Wikipedia as a reliable source despite having no consensus on it is the latest example of the attempt of the left-wing to silence right-wing voices.