Yup, but they didn't get everything.
quite a bit of info and backgroup from an anon (click on the table to open it to get to this info :
backgroud on this entry. I was inspired to comment on this case by virtue of the possibility that some influene on a man's life had been made by unclear statement of rules, and the fallout thereform. I made a comment on the Durova Arbcom case discussion section. I had no intention to make a case about this, certainly not on ANI. This was copied here by Jzg, which I discovered after the fact. This caused debate and desire fo details, which I provide here.
Story of Congressional Staffer Leaving JobPublished 11/16/2007 By Hank Hayes - Kingsport Times News - "TH", U.S. Rep. David Davis’ press secretary, will be leaving his position at the end of the year, Davis’ Chief of Staff Brenda Otterson said Thursday [November 15.......Timothy Hill admitted that he “made a mistake” but faced no other disciplinary action ... He tried to delete references involving Davis’ participation in an August 1999 “lobbying airlift” arranged by King Pharmaceuticals to get King’s Altace drug onto TennCare’s preferred drug list ...The attempted changes to the Wikipedia biographies were detailed by a Wikipedia administrator in a July online article for Search Engine Land. ....None of the edited biographies stayed in Wikipedia’s live version for a long time, according to the administrator. The administrator also called the editing of Matthew Hill’s and Davis’ online biographies “blanking vandalism.”
But was it really vandalism? When I read about the job shift, I started reading the Durova's articles related to this recent Congressional editing scandal. After reading, I have to say "so-called scandal", because it does appear that she assumed that the editor was doing something wrong "blanking vandalism" when they were probably acting in good faith (while editing a politicians bio? Of his brother? Of his boss?). Wait, suspend your disbelief. While apparently, what he "removed" was pro-life lobby spam, or personal attacks referencing oppositional blog sites. It was quite tragic for this guy, as detailed below. He didn't seem to have done anything really unethical. But between presumptive guilt on the part of some admins, political opposition (who had actually planted the material he removed from the two politicians bio pages), TH got (unfortunately) smeared. His career was altered. Worse, it seems that both Durova and Wikipedia were used for the very purposes they sought to subvert: political manipulation of Wikipedia. Evidence the Wikinews article on the matter, sensationalistically entitled. s U.S. House Ethics Committee to examine congressional press secretary vandalizing Wikipedia articles with government computers. But there was never an ethics investigation of this matter. The US House of Representatives calender and logs have no information on this case whatsoever. There was a minor review of the matter, which resulted in that the Office of the Congressman was given the power to decide what (if anything) to do). And official statements indicate that there was no punishment or "ethics investiation" (a real ethics investigation is a project) on the matter. What Wikinews reported was manufactured news originating from blogs oppositional to the boss of TH (the Congressman).
Tim H's version of the story. Tim H commented that, Hill said the information he deleted about Davis struck him as inaccurate and that he tried to “replace it with accurate stuff.” "His efforts were detected by a Wikipedia administrator who restored the text to its former version and later reported on the episode in an article for another Web site" His side of the story was: “My job is to make sure statements about my boss are truthful and, sometimes, as positive as possible,” he said. “That’s what I do.” Hill said he regularly searches the Internet for references to Davis, a freshman Republican from Johnson City. When he came across the Wikipedia entry on the congressman, Hill said some of the information struck him as “inaccurate” and “trying to hurt my boss.”
Durova's highlights Congressional edits in article. The first media attention to the edits made by the press officer of Congressman Davis originated from use of the edits by Timothy Hill by Durova as examples of "blanking vandalism" and "inappropriate edits in the SEO article, SEO Tips and Tactics from an SEO Insider. From the article SEO Tips and Tactics by an SEO Insider, Durova first tells the story of what was an accepted case of editing malpractice, and links the Timothy Hill edits,referring to them in a negative light:
The story became national news when people uncovered other congressional attempts to spin Wikipedia biographies of sitting legislators. That attention led to a fresh pledge by Rep. Meehan that his staff would stop editing Wikipedia. Several of his embarrassed colleagues issued similar assurances.
Rep. Meehan has since become Chancellor Meehan of the University of Massachusetts, but that IP address continues to be shared by various congressional offices. So we'll see whether those pledges have stood the test of time. The block history raises my eyebrow.
A few clues and clicks from there I reach the biography of New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy and locate an edit by that IP address dated 19 June 2007 that deleted a well-referenced but unflattering section describing an MSNBC interview that had exposed her ignorance about an assault weapons ban she had proposed. Other dubious activity from June 2007 includes blanking vandalism
IP 85 comment: Accusing a Congressional Press Officer of "vandalism" which not a small charge to level.
I uncovered this information in ten minutes and my sysop tools weren't necessary for any of the research. You can see for yourself:
* Carolyn McCarthy
* Matthew Hill (1)
* Matthew Hill (2)
* David Davis (1)
* David Davis (2)
But was this a valid correlation? What actually happened with the Hill/Davis edits? When I first looked at this, I thought, ok, well, this makes sense. Sounds like she has a point. Then I read TH's edits, and I realized that Durova really DID spend only ten minutes reading the material (and jumping to the conclusion that the press officer was involved in coverup of business ties). It is actually scary what she missed. What TH was erasing was not crucial data on the politicians at all. Most of it seems to have been an attack on several politicians and one political donor by several editors. Notably by these editors (there may be more).
Editors who added the pharma info to the five persons below http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contr...s/18.104.22.168 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contr...ons/22.214.171.124 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contr...liff_River_Slob
Their attack targets: Tennessee Politician Bios with Inordinate Emphasis on Pharma, esp. relation to Hoecst http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jason_Mumpower http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Godsey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_Ramsey http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Hill http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Davis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_M._Gregory
(not a politician, but the rich pharma who has given money to the above politicians).
Please note: Two of the politicians have a potential COI relationship to the editor, yet it would appear that the editor (TH) was removing erroneous or distortive edits attempting to make (as someone said above) aspersions as to the nature of the donations. (comment: This is why looking at the content of the edits, rather than the raw nature of a potential COI is crucial).
Please note also:One of the above editors, who put some (or maybe all) of the pharma material on the pages of the politicos above (plus one non-politico), Bee Cliff River Slob, chatting about the "scandal" and mentioning that press attention of the "blanking scandal" had "stopped" (disappointed? wanted more scandal?). This culminated in some back and forth arguements on her talk page between two editors who were clearly using Wikipedia to promote their own view of political reality, in relation to the Republian politicians above:
From Durova's Talk pageDurova, the above user just blanked a section about Wikipedia from the David Davis page. This user can't be trusted and is currently engaged in a lengthy edit war on the Matthew Hill where he is adding adding unreferenced controversial information Mr. Hill. This user is trying to stir things up for the people who are doing their jobs and deleting information he is adding. As it stands, User:THF has given him his last warning for his current behaviour. It would be best to just ignore Bee Cliff River Slob as he is just trying to stir things up. Take Care....NeutralHomer T:C 08:08, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
I have noticed during the lockdown of the David Davis article that the "Political connection to Altace, pharmaceutical industry" section was fully restored to the David Davis article but not to the lockdown to the Matthew Hill article. Two of the abovelisted articles listed within NH's history include both Jason Mumpower and Steve Godsey who both served as members of the Tennessee General Assembly, and along with Ron Ramsey, participated within the August 1999 King Pharmaceuticals, Inc. legislative/lobbying airlift to Nashville and each off these politicans have a "Political connection to Altace, pharmaceutical industry" section within their own Wikipedia articles.
It seems that [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_M._Gregory_%28American_pharmaceuticals_executive%29&oldid=148702871
only one editor (Cruftban) paid mind to the fact that some people were using the bios to present distortive information]. Apparently Cruftbane noticed this while performing an OTRS, though most of the one-sided information implying that there was a grand conspiracy (calling it an "lobbying airlift") still rests in those pages.
by Cruftbane →King Pharma acquiring U.S. rights to Altace - This looks like an attempt to lead the reader to a conclusion not present in the sources. OTRS ticket 2007091210011016 applies.)
Now, my first thought is: Why is the fact that politicians get money from pharma a problem? (Business contributions to politicians is normal, like it or not). Was dangerous drug given FDA approval because of that donation? (A legitimate complaint). Had they taken too much money, or been found to have hidden bribes? (no) Or was it a normal business donation (that you could have a lifelong debate about the morality of - or not - I say let's not) to a politician. And if it was a normal donation, then what's the big deal? I read further (more than 10 minutes, but let's remember, that people's reputations (and JOBS and LIVES) are on the line - and before we decide they edited "inappropriately" and call them vandals, in interviews and articles we write, or claim that they were "hiding the relationship to pharma" then lets be 100% sure that they really did something wrong. (I hasten to add here that NO mainstream media entity picked up on this story, re: the Wikipedia editing by TH. BUT it was used also by the Democratic party back in TN, as well as the apparent propagators, the pro-life (anti-abortion) lobby. It appears so , per links to these articles and correlations of similar such allegations.
It seems that Wikipedia (and Durova) has inadvertently got involved in intra-Republican infighting (about politicians who accept donations from drug companies with ties to Hoecst, manufacturer of abortion pill RU-486, and some vicious Republican-Democrate fighting about campaign funding. What is most obvious on Wikipedia is the edits made by the pro-life movement (which is usually pro-Republican in the USA) which is angry at Tennessee Republicans. Wikipedia artiles on these people (and the preponderant refrenes to pharma, Hoecst and implications of wrongdoing) are apparent political attacks based on infighting about who is more powerful in the Republican party in that state. Pharma is getting more powerful, and when the tennesseee pharmaceutical companies have an ownership relationship to Hoecst, which produces RU-486, that means that the conservative Christain right can't call the shots with the leadership anymore. One of the blogspots TH erased from Matt H's bio (see above) gleefully noted Durova's involvement in the matter, calling Matt H the "Tennessee RU-486 Senator"
All the aforementioned bios contain complaints that the politicos helped get Alteca approved. Ok. So what? Apparently this is the pro-life people lashing back at the Republicans for taking money from pharma. Usually it is the conservative Christian right that is their main donor (and for Matt H, TH's broter, it is still the case) but you notice that pharma donations are closing in on (presumably) Christian conservative donations. These pro-life lobbyists and bloggers spent much time focused on Durova's examples of how underestimating Wikipedia can be a dangerous business. section U.S. Rep. David Davis' Playhouse: His House office using federal tax dollars to vandalize Wikipedia political bios
All those bios have more information about pharma and the person in question than real information about the politicians (please read them yourselves, they are all short). TH (the press officer) didn't add much to the bios. He didnt make his brother or his boss look like superman. Or what have you. He mostly deleted the pharma material (which is completely attacking and non-substantive, from what I can ascertain). The one thing questionable he deleted was a link to a site which provided disaggregated information about his brother's sources of (state rep from TN) contributions. But out of maybe 15 paragraphs deleted, that was one. He also edited the name of the grade school his brother went to (check link above), and small things like that.
I can't find any evidence that TH made "inappropriate edits" or "tried to hide" anything. He deleted links to blogs of people who were opposing his brother and his boss, for the above reasons. Some of those people are most probably listed above. One of the (the Bee River Guy) was told to pipe down after some period, after the Congress case.
What I had said on the other page (and for which I've been criticized) was that I have the impression that Durova assumed bad faith here - possibly in a form of overenthusiasm or excitement about dealing with a Congressional edit. I still believe this. In using these congresional edits as examples of "blanking vandalism", she wound up reconfirming the use of Wikipedia by partisan groups (the pro-life group against these pliticians who accepted contributions from pharmaceutical companies which product RU-486. The TH's edits were reverted. But Durova assumed sneaky behavior, and used it in an SEO article, without really looking into the details of the edits or the politics contained withint the material deleted. It is so easy to guess that all politicians are self promoting, and it seems she did that. Ironically, it seems she would up being used by the same political groups who wrote the distortive material which TH deleted. It is possible that the glamour of criticizing a high government office, and excitement of discovering sneaky evidence led her to jump to conclusions. This can happen to anyone. But when Wikipedia is the 10th most visited website in teh world, more are needs to be taken.
Other articles focused on this as an example of vandalism This worsened the scrutiny. Durova wrote, :::My last column looked at examples of inappropriate editing' originating from a United States Congress IP address—meaning one politician's staff was attempting to use Wikipedia for less than ethical purposes
This is completely unfair. She just called TH unethical.. He is was a congressional staffer. There was no ethics investigation of this case (despite bloggers stating otherwise online and Wikinews preemptively stating the false information that a review to decide if an ethics investiatioin should take place was "an investigation". Despite the local Tennesse press making a big deal about it for a week, the US House of Representatives considered this a non-issue. The Office of TH's Boss (the congressman), told the press that TH would be punished having to take an ethics class. The Tennessee pres did their best to play this up. The Tennessee Democratic party head made much of the stories (really just another wikiscanner story by an unwitting editor at work - and his job was to deal with online content).
LaTourette's staff could have contacted two projects that are interested in the article: WikiProject Biography and WikiProject U.S. Congress. Most article talk pages contain links to one or more WikiProjects. A good general contact point is Wikipedia's Counter-Vandalism Unit. Inappropriate edits usually vanish within minutes when enough editors watch a page. Best of all, the site's volunteers will solve future problems while you sleep (ref).
How would they have known to do that? It seems Durova doesn't understand that she is unleashing criticsm that can cost people their jobs. She speaks as if it were overly evident that any person who opens wikipedia knows what otrs is, how to join wikiprojects, and make otrs tickets. Wikipedia is billed as the encyclopedia anyone can edit. She's speaking critically of these editors who have been caught, in their jobs, (embarassingly by the press, probably by Wikiscanner), completely unawares). 126.96.36.199 04:39, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
PS could somebody fix the formating here so this is readable? I think that it has something to do with a photo posted higher up...