Staffs for US presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama caught making questionable edits to Wikipedia

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

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Wikinews has determined through an investigation that the staffs for 2008 United States presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have been spending some of their time making questionable edits to Wikipedia, the open content online encyclopedia. The investigation also found that Obama's campaign staff seems to be removing questionable edits more often than they are making them. McCain's campaign staff in most cases is removing unflattering information in certain articles.

John McCain.
Image: United States Congress.

While using the online internet tool Wikiscanner, Wikinews was able to determine the Internet Protocol Address range for the campaign headquarters for Obama, Obama For America and McCain, mccain08hq.com. After determining the ranges, Wikinews found the individual IP addresses used to edit Wikipedia and cross referenced them to current edits as early as August of this year for both campaigns.

As early as August 1, a staff member from McCain's campaign using the IP address 12.47.124.18 edited a Wikipedia article titled: Xenophobia, in which the staff member removed a paragraph of information stating that "North America has had a current of xenophobia against black people, especially in the United States." On November 2, 2007, a staff member using the same address removed information that criticized Liberty University. Staff members also performed other edits on articles that favor McCain which can be considered a conflict of interest.

Barack Obama.
Image: United States Congress.

Obama's campaign staff was also participating in editing. One staff member using the IP address 208.116.214.66 apparently did not like Vanilla Ice saying on May 31, 2007, "Most recently, Winkle was the target of an unfortunate assault when, during a concert in Des Moines, Iowa, an Aryan-looking, bi-curious campaign staffer named Tom Vietor hurled an empty bottle at the performer's skull." The edit was immediately removed by the same IP address. Vietor's last registered salary was in April of 2007. On August 6, 2007 another staff member using a different IP address from Obama's campaign, 208.116.214.67, added "Adam Goldfarb is the biggest liar I know" to the Wikipedia article Liar. Goldfarb is listed as being on the New Jersey staff for Obama's campaign. Later more recent edits from 208.116.214.66 appear to remove vandalism from articles on Wikipedia while the other stopped editing thereafter.

These edits come just days after a Wikipedia editor alleged the McCain campaign lifted background information from Wikipedia for an August 11 public speech about the Georgian-Russian crisis. McCain gave a warning to Russia stating, "Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin must understand the severe, long-term negative consequences that their government’s actions will have for Russia’s relationship with the U.S. and Europe."

This discovery occurred at the beginning of the 2008 Democratic National Convention which began on Monday in Denver, Colorado where Obama is accepting his nomination for the presidential bid.

Wikinews has e-mailed both campaigns, but as of publishing this report, there have been no responses.


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This exclusive report features first-hand journalism by one or more Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

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