If you happen to be following the 2012 Republican presidential nomination and you are familiar with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, wiki manipulation may come to mind. For the insiders and team supporting Newt Gingrich, wiki changes have taken place over 60 times to the biography of the Former Speaker and at least 23 times to his wife, Callista Gingrich. Joe DeSanti, communications director for Newt Gingrich, made the changes to their biographies. Wikipedia editors have blasted DeSanti for the move. Identifying and correcting factual errors is one thing, but providing your own opinion and spin is entirely different. Wikipedia has warned against "conflicts of interest" on their site. For Newt Gingrich, wiki alteration is a serious issue in that it calls into question his integrity. He does not have a very respectable past as is when it comes to integrity.
In 1997, Gingrich became the first Speaker of the House in American history to be fined for ethics violations in which he was fined $300,000 . During that year, the House ethics committee published a highly anticipated report of allegations against Gingrich. This ousted Gingrich from the House and he had to give up his position as Speaker of the House just four years after leading a dramatic "Republican Revolution," which gave Republicans a majority of seats in the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years. He presented a Contract With America in 1994, written by Larry Hunter. The Contract With America had contributions from Robert Walker, Richard Armey, Bill Paxon, Tom DeLay, John Boehner and Jim Nussle. It also was inspired by former President Ronald Reagan's 1985 State of the Union Address. The Contract highlighted the importance of smaller government, lower taxes, fewer regulations, welfare reform and tort reform, all of which are very traditional themes in conservatism. As a result of the success of the Republican Revolution, Gingrich was named TIME Person of the year in 1995. However, despite all his successes, Gingrich is widely viewed as having injected tremendous negativity into the political process throughout the 1990's. The Newt Gingrich wiki controversy in 2012 seems to mimic the Gingrich of the 1990's.
Credit: Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia CommonsCredit: Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons
So what changes were made in the Newt Gingrich Wiki Scandal?
The alterations made in the Newt Gingrich Wiki issue ranged from very minor to somewhat more compelling ones. Callista Gingrich's photo was changed which may not be such a big deal . However, some controversial baggage was removed from the biographies of both Newt and Callista. The fact that they had an affair together while Newt was involved in the Clinton impeachment, for example, was removed. The issue also involved removal or edits regarding his large line of credit at Tiffany & Co., information on the House investigation into his ethics violations and removal of his positions on water boarding and climate change . It really does not seem appropriate for members of the Gingrich team to make such changes to a page that is really geared for the public and written to educate the public. All candidates should expect their pasts to be thoroughly scrutinized.
In the world of politics and elections, it is possible to get a taste of how a candidate will govern based on how the candidate governs. The Newt Gingrich wiki alteration would seem to suggest that the candidate will surround himself with a manipulative team. Even though he may not be directly involved in the wiki changes, it was someone on the Gingrich team who made the changes. At a time in which American cynicism toward the political process and government is at an all time high, such blunders as the Newt Gingrich wiki changes will not be greeted very kindly by the American electorate.