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Kamala Harris' Wikipedia Under Scrutiny After Numerous Edits

kamala harris rests her left wrist on her chin during senate hearing testimony
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

By    |   Monday, 06 July 2020 06:22 PM

The Wikipedia entry of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., a reported front runner as a potential vice presidential pick of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, has seen numerous edits the past two months, most of them by one editor, The Intercept is reporting.

The page has seen more than 500 revisions since May 9, which The Intercept characterized as "scrubbing controversial aspects" that "could prove unflattering to Harris." It also reported the editing has "elicited strong pushback" from the online encyclopedia's cadre of volunteer editors.

All of the activity and commentary has led Wikipedia to place the page under "discretionary sanctions," which include allowing one "revert" in a 24-hour period.

The practice apparently is not unprecedented. Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine's selection by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as her vice presidential choice in 2016 was preceded by a flurry of edits on his Wikipedia page in the weeks prior, more than any other potential candidate, according to The Atlantic.

Likewise, Sarah Palin's selection as the vice presidential nominee of Republican nominee Sen. John McCain in 2008 saw 65 edits to her page in the hours before she was announced, The Washington Post reported.

The trend of Harris supposedly came to light in June when a Reddit user last month conducted some research to see whose Wikipedia page among Biden’s reported vice presidential contenders was getting the most revisions. Harris' page had been changed 408 times. The next closest was Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer: 57.

Reddit and The Intercept did not identify the editor by name, only by his or her username bnguyen1114, who had done 90% of the alterations.

The changes to Harris' page, according to The Intercept, have mostly been to soften her "tough-on-crime" image when she was district attorney of San Francisco and attorney general of California.

Among the deletions to her page was a quote attributed to her where she said: "It is not progressive to be soft on crime."

Early in her presidential bid against Biden and others, political commentators suggested her tough on crime campaigns and stances would be a liability with a Democratic electorate. The Intercept and other reports suggested it was even more of a problem in the wake of protests and riots over the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

All the editing drew criticism on Wikipedia's Kamala Harris Talk page, where editors share comments about an entry.

Bnguyen1114 was criticized for going "through a database of press releases from Harris'  office, cataloging every single one and adding it to the article." Among the responses to some of the criticisms were that they were done for length.

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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., was once "tough on crime," but that fact is among the items being systematically wiped from her Wikipedia entry as she is being groomed as a potential running mate for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, according to The Intercept.
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2020-22-06
Monday, 06 July 2020 06:22 PM
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