DREAMSTIME

Kuhner's Corner: Wikipedias lies about me

Free online encyclopedia is part of fake news

Jeff Kuhner
June 27, 2017 - 1:29 pm
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My critics hate me. As a conservative radio host, I am used to it. It comes with the territory. What is disturbing, however, are the depths my liberal enemies are willing to go to smear my reputation.

Take Wikipedia, the so-called free online “encyclopedia.” Type in my name and you can read a profile of my life and career. There is only one problem: It is riddled with errors, lies and half-truths. The goal is obvious. To make me come across as some kind of crazed, duplicitous far right-winger. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For example, the entry claims that I was a “regular contributor to the commentary pages of The Washington Times.” That is only half-true. I was a full-time staff columnist for nearly five years—and my columns consistently were some of the most popular on the paper’s commentary pages (a fact that is conveniently ignored).

Wikipedia also editorializes that the think tank, the Edmund Burke Institute, I co-founded and was president of was “dormant.” This is false. The think tank published a monthly magazine, Reflections, in which I contributed numerous articles. I also participated in countless debates and conferences in Washington, D.C. Hence, this begs the question: How can a think tank be “dormant” if it was regularly publishing a magazine and its president engaging in intellectual outreach. EBI’s mission was to promote conservative ideas, especially to minorities—a growing demographic bloc that I believed then (and still do) will be vital to the movement’s ultimate success. My salary as EBI’s president was zero. I did it for the cause, not the money. And I labored away in the policy salt mines for years. But the insinuation is clear: I was somehow an intellectual fraud who established a non-existent, shadowy institute. Wikipedia should be ashamed of itself.

Moreover, I graduated from Concordia University in Montreal—not Queen’s as the online site claims. I received my master’s degree in history from Queen’s. Even a basic Google search would reveal this.

Wikipedia also perpetuates another lie—a libelous smear. It states that I left my teaching position at McGill University (where I taught modern U.S. history from 1998-2000) because I was only offered a one-year contract instead of a two-year deal. This claim is based on a bogus story published in a McGill student newspaper. It is obviously false. I held an adjunct teaching position at McGill. At the time, an adjunct position—by its very definition—was on a yearly basis (sometimes only on a semester-to-semester basis). The university could never have offered me—and I obviously would never have asked for—a two-year contract. It was simply impossible. In fact, a little bit of research would have discovered that I had written an Op-Ed piece, “Crisis at McGill,” in The Montreal Gazette in the spring of 2000, excoriating the university’s dismal teaching standards and lack of commitment to quality higher education. The piece obviously generated substantial debate on campus, as well as intense animosity towards me from many of my former colleagues.

Yet, the fact remains: Why would I ask for a renewal of my contract—never mind allegedly for two years—if I had just publicly eviscerated McGill? The answer is obvious: Because I no longer wanted to stay. I was done with academia and its sterile, stifling politically correct environment. I had made the decision to abandon teaching in favor of journalism. And I have never regretted it. Not once.

The Wikipedia entry also claims that, while being the editor-in-chief of Insight on the News, I once supported or was sympathetic to the candidacy of Barack Obama in 2008. That is a bald-faced lie; it is a gross distortion of Insight’s political coverage. I was against Obama from the beginning. I wrote countless columns decrying him as a radical socialist bent on dismantling traditional America—not in 2010 or 2009, but in 2008 (before and after he defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination).

The supposed evidence for the bogus assertion that I was an early Obama supporter is a link to an unsigned editorial published in Insight during the hotly contested Democratic primary. The editorial highlighted Obama’s strengths compared to Hillary’s, rightly predicting he would defeat her. There was no byline on the article. So how I—or anyone else—can be attributed for writing it is beyond me. Furthermore, the key to Insight’s success was that we employed both liberal and conservative contributors. The reason being so they could cultivate their respective Democratic and Republican sources. Some of the editorial writers focused on the Democratic race, others on the GOP primary battle. As long as the articles and editorials were well-sourced, accurate and concisely written, I did not impose my political views. It’s called being a professional, objective editor-in-chief. I had my own column to express my conservative populist beliefs—which I did repeatedly.

The aim, however, is to paint me as being somehow an erratic opportunist; someone who jumped off the Obama bandwagon when it became politically convenient. The reality is the very opposite. I had been a constant ferocious critic of Obama. I was always a small-government conservative. This had been expressed in countless articles since my career in journalism began in 2000. Any assertion to the contrary is nothing more than cheap propaganda masquerading as factual research.

I could go on with all the other inaccuracies and falsehoods. But why bother? The person who wrote (and edited) my Wikipedia entry is either a shameless liar or an inept smear merchant. The sad thing is people believe what they read on the site. “Encyclopedias” are supposed to be accurate, thoroughly researched and based on meticulous empirical evidence. Wikipedia is simply more fake news. And one of its top targets are conservatives, especially popular radio talk show hosts. Trust me: I know.                             

-Jeffrey T. Kuhner is host of “The Kuhner Report” on WRKO AM-680 in Boston.

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