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US Congress Rewites History

Written by Kelsey Sigurdur Tuesday, 31 January 2006

An article published in the Lowell Sun (MA) broke the news that staffers for US Representative Marty Meehan (D-MA) had removed references to Meehans broken campaign promises and massive war chest from Wikipedia, the popular open encyclopedia site.

According to the report, Meehan's chief of staff, Matt Vogel, authorized an intern to replace existing content with a staff written biography in July of 2005.

The change deleted a reference to Meehan's campaign promise to surrender his seat after serving eight years, a pledge Meehan later eschewed. It also deleted a reference to the size of Meehan's campaign account, the largest of any House member at $4.8 million, according to the latest data available from the Federal Election Commission.

Vogel defended the edits, referring to the the pre-edited content as "sloppy" and "incorrect".

Spurred by the Lowell Sun's report, Wikipedia members undertook an investigation of their own and turned up over a thousand similar edits emanating from the Capitol.

The editors from these IP ranges have been rude, abrasive, immature, and show disregard for Wikipedia policy. The editors have frequently tried to censor the history of elected officials, often replacing community articles with censored biographies despite other users' attempts to dispute these violations.

Among the edits traced to the House was a charming description of Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor; "he also smells of cow dung more often than not.", the removal of negative comments from Senators Conrad Burns, Norm Coleman, and Tom Harkins entries, and the removal of significant criticism from Senator Joe Biden's entry.

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