New York Daily NewsTom Brokaw a rogue on wacky-pediaSunday, March 15th 2009, 4:00 AM
He’s one of journalism’s most beloved and respected men, but someone appears to have it in for Tom Brokaw.
Look up the former NBC News anchor on Wikipedia and you’ll find a review of his Emmy-winning reports, his best-selling books, his 20 honorary degrees. Until recently, you also would have found this sentence:
“He had been married to Meredith Lynn Auld (a former Miss South Dakota and author) from 1962 until 2007, when an alleged affair between Brokaw and Diane Sawyer ended their marriage.”
The Brokaws’ marriage is very much intact (a Google image search shows them arm in arm at events throughout 2008 and 2009). Likewise, ABC News’ Sawyer remains happily married to director Mike Nichols.
A rep for Brokaw said he “burst out laughing” when he heard about the supposed affair. Contacted in the arctic reaches of Finland, Sawyer sent back word through her rep that, “as cute as Tom is, she laughed so hard she nearly fell off the icebreaker she’s traveling on.”
The purported affair, anonymously added to Brokaw’s bio on Feb. 27, was deleted after five days. Wikipedia Foundation spokesman Jay Walsh tells us the post “would constitute a ‘vandal edit’” but doubted the vandal could be found.
“It’s an open system,” says Walsh. “People may use it to exert their views. But the biographies of living people are most scrutinized by our volunteer editors. It’s incumbent on the Wikipedia Foundation to make sure they’re accurate.”
Walsh surmised that “someone with some agenda” was behind the post. Or maybe there’s more than one person. Clicking on the discussion page of Brokaw’s bio reveals attempts to slip in digs about his accent and personality. Wiki watchdogs rejected the insults, though not the unflattering picture of the newsman, which reminded one reader of “Clint Eastwood saying, ‘Do you feel lucky, punk?’ ”
The effort to smear Brokaw recalls the anonymous Wiki attack in 2005 on former assistant attorney general John Seigenthaler Sr., who, it was falsely claimed, masterminded the assassinations of both John and Bobby Kennedy.
Brokaw isn’t the only newsman targeted by Wiki vandals. “Some of our correspondents have stalkers who constantly post falsehoods,” says a source at another network news department. “We’ve had Wikipedia block posts from repeat offenders.”
But the unflappable Brokaw isn’t calling for any investigations. Through his rep he said, “This is beneath comment.”