Wikipedia Redefines ‘President-Elect,’ Previous Versions Go Down the Memory Hole

December 16, 2020 Updated: December 21, 2020

News Analysis

There’s no more timely example of how special interests are controlling our information online than the example of the definition of “president-elect” as provided by the controversial online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Ever since the day after the election, people in the media have been arguing over when it would be appropriate to use the term “president-elect” to refer to Joe Biden, particularly with the election being disputed by President Donald Trump.

Most of the media quickly took sides against Trump, adopting the term “president-elect” for Biden, pointing to various definitions that they felt weighed in their favor.

And the internet encyclopedia Wikipedia clearly says they are correct.

But wait until you see how Wikipedia’s definition of “president-elect” has conveniently “evolved.”

By way of background: In the presidential election of 2000, Republican George W. Bush clinched the win, only to have his challenger, Democrat Al Gore, pursue a recount in the critical state of Florida, where Bush’s margin of victory was razor-thin.

But the news media didn’t appear to be in a rush to declare Bush the “president-elect” as they did with Biden.

A full three weeks after the election, the left-leaning Salon website just called the candidates “Bush” and “Gore.” Same with The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, which referred to them simply as “Mr. Gore” and “Mr. Bush.”

Of course, there was as of yet no “Wikipedia” and its agenda editors to shape the public and news narrative.

By the time there was a Wikipedia, on March 26, 2009, the definition of president-elect was less definitive than Wikipedia says it is today. Here’s what Wikipedia said then:

“The title is used for the apparent winner and is finalized when the Electoral College votes in December and when their ballots are counted by a joint session of Congress in January.”

Wikipedia further acknowledged there is a legitimate dispute on the question.

“Some commentators doubt whether an official President- and Vice President-elect exist prior to the electoral votes being counted and announced by Congress on January 6.”

Then, three days after the 2020 election, Wikipedia first told us that in a disputed election, it wasn’t appropriate to use the title president-elect:

“If the result of an election is unclear or disputed, no person is normally referred to as president-elect until the dispute is resolved.”

But not long afterward, even as legal challenges were underway, Wikipedia agenda editors took sides and went to town. Biden’s picture was authoritatively pasted on the page defining “president-elect” with the statement:

“Joe Biden is the president-elect of the United States, having defeated incumbent Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.”

Wikipedia further told us it was perfectly correct to use the phrase for Biden right after the Nov. 3 election because:

“As an unofficial term, president-elect has been used by the media for decades. Politicians have applied the term to the declared winner, even soon after election night.”

Of course, this new information replaced and canceled the information that (just days before) told us the title would not normally be used while the election was disputed.

In George Orwell’s novel “1984,” the hapless protagonist Winston Smith rewrote history in real time depending on what powerful interests needed it to say. Prior versions were deposited down the memory hole as if they never existed.

In countless ways, many of which are invisible to ordinary observers, our information is being shaped, pulled, and manipulated by special interests. If we aren’t diligent, it may soon become impossible to get any information except that which the most influential interests wish for us to see.

Sharyl Attkisson is The New York Times bestselling author of the upcoming book “Slanted,” a five-time Emmy Award winner, and the host of Sinclair’s national investigative television program “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” She is a recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting and has reported nationally for CBS News, PBS, and CNN.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.