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    The inaccurate, incomplete Elizabeth Warren Wikipedia entry and edit war

    The inaccurate, incomplete Elizabeth Warren Wikipedia entry and edit war

    Legal Insurrection is off-limits as “partisan” but The Boston Globe is not?

    For background, see my prior posts:

    Since then, the cleansing of Warren’s entry continues, with people who clearly have an agenda trying to minimize the scope and breadth of what Warren did in falsely claiming she was Native American.  Take a look at the Talk page for some of the back and forth.  There no longer is a separate section for the Native American issue, it’s buried in the election coverage.

    Here is the current entry broken down sentence by sentence, with my notations in brackets and in bold italics.  Since the entry seems to change multiple times per day, who knows what it will look like by the time you see it:

    In April 2012, the Boston Herald drew attention to Warren’s law directory entries from 1986 to 1995, in which she had self-identified as a Native American. Harvard Law School had publicized the entries in the 1990s in response to criticisms about a lack of faculty diversity.[47][48][49]  [No, Harvard never publicized the law directory entries.  Harvard publicized the fact that she allegedly was Native American based on her representations to Harvard in filing forms she will not release.  The law directory entries were discovered by law professor David Bernstein in late April 2012, after the Boston Herald reported on Harvard promoting Warren as Native American.  Warren herself never disclosed the law directory entries, but did admit filling out forms checking the box for Native American after Bernstein found them online.]

    The New England Historical Genealogical Society found no documentary proof of Native American lineage.[50][51] [True, although the mythology that Warren is 1/32 Cherokee lives on in part because the Boston Globe hyped the initial finding but then buried the correction.]

    Warren’s three siblings have backed her claim, stating, “We grew up listening to our mother and grandmother and other relatives talk about our family’s Cherokee and Delaware heritage.”[52] A number of her cousins echo Warren’s assertion, but other cousins say they know nothing of Native American ancestry.[52] [Partially true but incomplete.  The Boston Globe article which is the source actually demonstrated that Warren’s claim about family lore was at best tenuous, and based on a different lineage than she originally claimed.  Warren’s high school debate partner, who said he was “joined at the hip” with her for three years and knew her family, was unaware she claimed to be Native American.  Warren’s own adult nephew, who researched family genealogy, described the Native American stories as rumor in 2002. Moreover, several of her stories — such as her parents’ elopement, have been called into serious doubt.  The documentary evidence is that her family always self-identified as white, and her great grandfather on the side which supposedly was Cherokee was identified in the local newspaper as white and shot an Indian.]

    The Brown campaign, called on her to “come clean about her motivations for making these claims and explain the contradictions between her rhetoric and the record”,[53] and several Cherokee groups came out against her.[54][55] [True]

    Warren maintained that Native American ancestry was a part of her family folklore, and that she had self-identified as a minority in the law directory listing in hopes of meeting people of a similar background.[56][57] [As to family lore, see above.  As to meeting people of similar background, Warren’s story was false.  Warren did not appear in the law faculty directory as “Native American.”  She appeared only as “Minority,” so the directory could not have been used to meet Native Americans, since no one reading it would have known.]

    Warren stated that she has not received any professional advantage or preferential treatment as a result of her claimed ancestry.[53][58] Charles Fried, a Harvard Law professor who was involved in Warren’s hiring, said that her heritage was never mentioned and played no role in the decision.[47] [Incomplete.  It should be noted that Warren and Harvard refuse to release the records which would be the best evidence as to how and when Harvard became aware that Warren was claiming minority and Native American status.  Considering that in 1993, when Warren was a Visting Professor, the Harvard Women’s Law Journal listed Warren as a “Woman of Color in Legal Academia,” it is hard to believe that faculty at Harvard, including those on the hiring committee, were unaware.]

    Readers of Wikipedia would get the full story if Wikipedia editors were willing to link to Legal Insurrection (or Twila Barnes).  But they are not because Legal Insurrection is deemed “partisan.”  In the Talk section for the page, Legal Insurrection is considered off-limits (internal Wikipedia embedded links removed, emphasis added):

    I feel that we may be trying to bend to a partisan website too much. If the info can be added in a neutral way than it should be added, but not at the expense of worsening this article. The website is obviously trying to bully us, and we shouldn’t blindly fall for it. Grammarxxx (What’d I do this time?) 04:29, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

    *  *  *  *

    The website is very obviously partisan. However, it’s doing this the right way, by providing links and evidence for what it’s saying. We clearly won’t be using it directly as a source, but it is pointing out appropriate problems with the article. It has nothing to do with falling for anything, it has to do with making sure the article is neutral. And, as it looks to me now, it seems like this article is being white-washed. SilverserenC 04:33, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

    *  *  *  *

    What can I say? A Wikipedia editor who states he is non-partisan states that Wikipedia, after hundreds of hours of edits by editors of all opinions, has resulted in whitewashing this article. He goes on to show the WP editors the correct path to follow, the one led by a partisan blogger (but don’t look at the responses to the political blogger’s articles and thus get the wrong opinion of his posts!). Disturbing. Gandydancer (talk) 17:48, 12 January 2013 (UTC)

    So Legal Insurrection is not to be used as a Wikipedia source on Warren even though we document everything we say about her (or note when we don’t have documentation)?

    Yet The Boston Globe is deemed non-partisan? The Globe endorsed Warren, created the myth about Warren being 1/32nd Cherokee but buried the correction, ran the article discussed above by a very “partisan” freelance author which tried to make the case supporting Warren’s family lore but which — as I noted at the time — actually ended up showing that much if not most of Warren’s story was suspect, and just days before the election ran a puff piece on Warren contrasting with a hit piece on Scott Brown.  There is almost no one who thinks The Boston Globe was a non-partisan source about Warren … other than Wikipedia.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about Wikipedia editing.  Hopefully some of our readers do.  We want a fair and comprehensive entry on Warren’s Cherokee and Native American problem.

    Update 1-30-2013 — We created our own, Announcing


    Donations tax deductible
    to the full extent allowed by law.


    wikipedia is awesome, I use it a lot.
    its great when I need to find episode lists in broadcast order (like S09E06, etc) for a tv series.
    you’re saying they have other stuff there?
    I’ll pass on that 🙂

    really its kind of a useless pile of crap now and has been for a long time.

    Estragon | January 14, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    Wikipedia is a great first source for information on noncontroversial subjects. Even on those, it is only a first step to actual research in most cases.

    But it is not and has never been reliable about anything remotely controversial or political. The “wiki” aspect always ensured there would be an ongoing “war of the last edit” on any such subject, and their cadre of “official” or “senior” editors is not exactly a judicial or judicious group.

    That it has become among the prime online sources of political information accounts in part for the poor political decision-making on the part of the wiki-informed electorate.

    MrMichael | January 14, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    More information is always better than less… so WikiGods, I propose this:

    Instead of deleting the section of her bio that discusses her ancestry and burying it in the campaign, why not add TWO sections:

    WARREN’S CLAIMS (including variations by era)


    Give it dry… but give it all. If anybody is really interested, they can follow the cited sources. Include all sides, and researchers will actually be an Encyclopedia… that is, a Reference with Encyclopedic information. You know. All of it.

    Socratease | January 14, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Who knew that ethics, honesty, and equal treatment were “partisan”?

    “Whoever controls the present controls the past. Whoever controls the past controls the future.” — 1984

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