Editing Wikipedia to Make Palin Right About Paul Revere

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
June 6 2011 8:25 AM

Editing Wikipedia to Make Palin Right About Paul Revere

This is a hell of a get by Charles Johnson. Starting on Sunday, as Sarah Palin kept explaining that her version of the Paul Revere "Midnight Ride" was historically accurate, Palin fans emerged on Wikipedia to "fix " the Revere biography. Palin's taking heat for saying Revere "warned the British"? No problem: Just add the line in italics.

Revere did not shout the phrase later attributed to him ("The British are coming!"), largely because the mission depended on secrecy and the countryside was filled with British army patrols; also, most colonial residents at the time considered themselves British as they were all legally British subjects.

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That revision is deleted with the explanation "content not backed by a reliable sources (it was sarah palin interview videos)." The people who keep cleaning this up are getting sort of bored now.

- I would strongly suggest locking this page until the Palin controversy blows over and her supporters lose interest in trying to rewrite the page to conform with her erroneous version of Revere's ride.

- Wiki rules apply to Palin fans the same as anyone else; they are free to add material to the page as long as it is reliably sourced. IIRC, it does look like Palin's supporters have a published source that partially agrees with her version of events, although the concept of relating Revere's ride to gun control or 2nd Amendment rights is nonsense. However in her defense, I think Palin herself was using that as a metaphor - not a literal interpretation of this event. In any case, Palin doesn't claim to be a professional historian so her words don't belong on this page.

- If you mention Sarah Palin you're doing it wrong. This article is about Paul Revere, a historical figure who died nearly two centuries before Sarah Palin came to prominence. She has absolutely nothing to do with the article. I would expect to see contemporary sources and theories proposed by modern historians, but Sarah Palin is neither here nor there.

- Sarah Palin is intent on destroying wikipedia, isn't she? First we had huge wars over the blood libel article, now this. But Obama's supporters do not support claim that there are 57 states! Amazing!

The original video, from Channel 7, really makes it look like Palin got a historical question she wasn't expecting, and then flubbed it. The way she grits her teeth on the phrase "riding HIS HORSE THROUGH TOWN!" is agonizing, for all involved. And look, if someone asked me, on the spot, to explain exactly what happened during Paul Revere's ride, I'd struggle a bit to access my elementary school memory banks. The twist, with Palin, is that she has a bona fide army of supporters who will sic themselves on anyone and anything that threatens to damage her image. One example: Last week I looked at the new CNN poll and made a mundane point about Herman Cain's poll surge being more compelling than Palin's narrow lead. This was interpreted in the Palinverse as "Exhibit A in the Stop Palin campaign."

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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