Heh: White House press kit on European trip lifts from Wikipedia?

posted at 6:06 pm on March 31, 2009 by Allahpundit

I put a question mark in the headline out of an abundance of caution but there’s not much doubt. Eagle-eyed reader A.M. decided to cross-check Toby Harnden’s excerpts from the kit against Wikipedia articles on Britain. Harnden:

Then it all started to go wrong. “The losses and destruction of World War I, the depression of the 1930s, and decades of relatively slow growth eroded the United Kingdom’s preeminent international position of the previous century”.

Versus Wiki’s entry on the Economic History of the UK (last edited on March 22):

The losses and destruction of World War I, the depression in its aftermath during the 1930s, and decades of relatively slow growth eroded the United Kingdom’s pre-eminent international position of the previous century.

Almost word for word. Heh. This is a venial sin, if it’s even a sin at all (although of course that depends on how much of the entire kit was “borrowed”) but didn’t Bush’s White House get in trouble for doing something like this once? Am I misremembering that?

Update: Looks like the excerpt on Gordon Brown quoted by Harnden was lifted straight from the 10 Downing Street website. That might be standard practice for foreign leaders, actually. Not sure.

Update: Could be — another excerpt about Elizabeth staging pantomimes during World War II looks like it comes from the queen’s official page.


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decades of relatively slow growth eroded the United Kingdom’s preeminent international position of the previous century

Which the US is now trying to emulate.

It needs that addendum. Really.

lorien1973 on March 31, 2009 at 6:08 PM

Must have been put together by Joe ‘Xerox’ Biden. Heh!

CrazyFool on March 31, 2009 at 6:09 PM

but didn’t Bush’s White House get in trouble for doing something like this once?

Beats me. If he did, then he deserved the ridicule as does Obama.

Esthier on March 31, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Geez, I thought everyone that works for The One went to Harvard or something. They couldn’t pull out so old textbook. Lazy. Greatest President…evah. Not.

Lance Murdock on March 31, 2009 at 6:09 PM

The more impressive wikipedia thing right now is the major facelift the “new deal” article pages are getting.

lorien1973 on March 31, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Constitutional government: Cool.
Wikigovernment: Not cool.

Akzed on March 31, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Seriously, are there not people in the State Department who have all kinds of information that can be shared within the excutive branch?

myrenovations on March 31, 2009 at 6:10 PM

This is more embarrasing

While Congress takes over the auto industry the taxpayers pay for their expensive rides.

William Amos on March 31, 2009 at 6:11 PM

Err, that quote appears almost verbatim in many places across the internet. It seems much more likely that it was copied from a common source into all of these places, including the press kit and Wikipedia, rather it being copied from Wikipedia into the press kit.

tneloms on March 31, 2009 at 6:13 PM

Heckuva catch.

Repurblican on March 31, 2009 at 6:14 PM

Err, that quote appears almost verbatim in many places across the internet. It seems much more likely that it was copied from a common source into all of these places, including the press kit and Wikipedia, rather it being copied from Wikipedia into the press kit.

Maybe, maybe not. The point is, Team Barry lifted it. And in all likelihood, given Wiki’s popularity, they lifted it from there.

Allahpundit on March 31, 2009 at 6:15 PM

Must have been put together by Joe ‘Xerox’ Biden. Heh!

CrazyFool on March 31, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Nah.

Don’t be silly.

Too many three letter words.

blatantblue on March 31, 2009 at 6:15 PM

Even most public school teachers don’t allow their students to cite Wikipedia because of its frequent errors and distortions.

Disturb the Universe on March 31, 2009 at 6:16 PM

The next press kit will be one page, reading: “Google it.”

Karl on March 31, 2009 at 6:17 PM

Maybe, maybe not. The point is, Team Barry lifted it. And in all likelihood, given Wiki’s popularity, they lifted it from there.

Allahpundit on March 31, 2009 at 6:15 PM

True its not like Obama’s team wouldnt stoop to using the internet to get their information.

It really shows there is an anti british veiw in the white house right now.

William Amos on March 31, 2009 at 6:18 PM

Not surprising. I am convinced they use Google for spell check and for word translation.

deidre on March 31, 2009 at 6:18 PM

This man is such an embarassment.

Terrye on March 31, 2009 at 6:18 PM

We could have so much fun by playing with wikipedia entries on nations the President is about to visit.

Can’t you see Obama visiting Liechtenstein and commenting on the close ties we have with them due to their teleprompter industry?

malclave on March 31, 2009 at 6:20 PM

First there was like this big war and stuff and this bad man named Hitler from Germany {that’s in Europe} started messing with this fat little guy who smoked stinky cigars named Chruchill or Churchmountain or Mosqueflatland or something like that and lots of people got killed and stuff….and on it goes.

I just hope that he does not ask to the meet the hunchback if he visits Notre Dame.

Terrye on March 31, 2009 at 6:21 PM

What the f**k are we paying all those DC bastards for when they can’t translate Russian, understand the basics of international diplomacy, and have to resort to a disreputable site like Wikipedia for information?

Fire them all! Wikipedia has all the answers and, unlike virtually all of the filthy liar’s appointments, it doesn’t have tax or other crimes to deal with before Senate rubber stamping.

highhopes on March 31, 2009 at 6:22 PM

I just hope that he does not ask to the meet the hunchback if he visits Notre Dame.

Terrye on March 31, 2009 at 6:21 PM

Barney Frank is going to be there ?

William Amos on March 31, 2009 at 6:22 PM

Ah, The Obama Administration – The smartest administration EVAH!!

MikeHu on March 31, 2009 at 6:23 PM

Maybe, maybe not. The point is, Team Barry lifted it. And in all likelihood, given Wiki’s popularity, they lifted it from there.

Allahpundit on March 31, 2009 at 6:15 PM

I guess. And I know you’re not making a big deal out of this, but why exactly is it a problem for them to lift quotes from other sources? Maybe I’m not familiar with how this works, but are they supposed to write about the history of Britain in their own words? Is it the fact that it expresses an unflattering subjective view of Britain?

(By the way, Allah, I say this as someone who likes most of your posts. I think you lend this site credibility and I like the style and substance of what you write.)

tneloms on March 31, 2009 at 6:23 PM

And I know you’re not making a big deal out of this, but why exactly is it a problem for them to lift quotes from other sources?

Not a problem if they’re only lifting a little. If they’re plagiarizing whole articles, esp. ones that come from Wikipedia, that’s a little sketchier.

Allahpundit on March 31, 2009 at 6:26 PM

By the way, this is slightly on-topic. Check out this lawsuit that cited Wikipedia as a source (and was refuted by the Court): http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2009_02_08-2009_02_14.shtml#1234384628.

tneloms on March 31, 2009 at 6:26 PM

I guess. And I know you’re not making a big deal out of this, but why exactly is it a problem for them to lift quotes from other sources?

It’s called plagarism.

Maybe I’m not familiar with how this works, but are they supposed to write about the history of Britain in their own words?

Yes!

Disturb the Universe on March 31, 2009 at 6:27 PM

Allahpundit on March 31, 2009 at 6:26 PM

Well, simply put, it is the PRESIDENT’S OFFICE.

Why are they going to Wiki? Why is the office of the most powerful, prestigious position in the world copying wiki?

blatantblue on March 31, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Al Gore invented the Internet. All your info belong to us.

Karl on March 31, 2009 at 6:36 PM

The scholarship on Wikipedia is not exactly the best. Why are the smartest people in the world copying it like a sixth grader cutting corners on a report?

BetseyRoss on March 31, 2009 at 6:36 PM

The adults are in charge now. I feel so much better.

Del Dolemonte on March 31, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Change you can Xerox.

MayBee on March 31, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Didn’t McCain receive all sorts of flack for doing the same thing on the campaign trail?

sluhser589 on March 31, 2009 at 6:42 PM

It’s called plagarism.

Maybe I’m not familiar with how this works, but are they supposed to write about the history of Britain in their own words?

Yes!

Disturb the Universe on March 31, 2009 at 6:27 PM

Why? They’re supposed to waste their time writing all this material? I really don’t get it. Is this a book report?

The goal, presumably, is to allow the press convenient access to background information without requiring the reporters to gather the information themselves from various sources.

If a government entity gave me a pamphlet describing something that’s public knowledge, I’d assume they copied it somewhere. And I’d be pretty annoyed to find out that public officials are wasting time rewriting information that’s widely available.

tneloms on March 31, 2009 at 6:44 PM

What do ya expect from an admin that uses Cliffs notes for everything…just more flotsam slipping thru the cracks, nothing new (unfortunately).

NY Conservative on March 31, 2009 at 6:47 PM

AP,
I dunno, but I think your rememory is pretty good… :)

pullingmyhairout on March 31, 2009 at 6:50 PM

You can read more of this on London’s Telegraph. It’s quite amusing if very poorly written. But the comments afterward are fairly entertaining.

pcpower1 on March 31, 2009 at 6:50 PM

The goal, presumably, is to allow the press convenient access to background information without requiring the reporters to gather the information themselves from various sources.

We pay the state department and the CIA to publish information about every country around the world. You’d think the WH might have access to that information, and use it instead.

MayBee on March 31, 2009 at 6:52 PM

Hey, wikipedia is a great reference source! Where byt wikipedia are you going to find entries like this one:

http://tinyurl.com/2bhc6e

radjah shelduck on March 31, 2009 at 6:53 PM

Allahpundit on March 31, 2009 at 6:26 PM

Well, simply put, it is the PRESIDENT’S OFFICE.

Why are they going to Wiki? Why is the office of the most powerful, prestigious position in the world copying wiki?

blatantblue on March 31, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Because they are Amateurs, Idiots and incredibly Lazy.
Team Obama, One Termers and very much an Embarrassment to the Nation including the “above his pay grade” chump that hired them all!

old trooper2 on March 31, 2009 at 6:58 PM

The scholarship on Wikipedia is not exactly the best. BetseyRoss on March 31, 2009 at 6:36 PM

That’s like saying Bill Clinton was a little inattentive to his marriage vows or that Teddy Kennedy was a little responsible for that auto accident and murder. That’s like saying Jerimiah Wright is a little racist or that Tim Giethner was a little lax on filing his taxes.

You get the point. My college professor friends are constantly complaining about the idiots students that cite Wikipedia as a scholarly source. It does give me an idea. We can pepper the site with bogus comments just before the filthy liar goes abroad. It would be fun to hear a speech where the filthy liar goes to France and tells the world how the Notre Dame Cathedral was moved from Italy as war spoils during the Napoleonic era. You and I would know that this is a bogus statement but I’m willing to bet that the filthy liar and all his minions wouldn’t tumble. They really are that stupid. Added fun as the MSM figures out a way to spin the factual gaffes.

highhopes on March 31, 2009 at 6:59 PM

We pay the state department and the CIA to publish information about every country around the world. You’d think the WH might have access to that information, and use it instead.

MayBee on March 31, 2009 at 6:52 PM

Would you bet your future on the Clinton emasculated CIA or the Panetta headed CIA?

Come on MayBee. The CIA has not been effective since Reagan.

old trooper2 on March 31, 2009 at 7:01 PM

Call me a gun-clingy paranoid religious nut, but I wager 5,000 Quatloos that Madame O or some 20-something Lady Panther on her staff commits at least 1 whopper-sized diplomatic blunder this week, most likely a bitter angry slap at the Queen.

Mike D. on March 31, 2009 at 7:06 PM

That’s what happens when you let Biden write the White House press kit.

Too bad Obama didn’t write the kit himself. We all know he never steals words from anyone.

DarkKnight3565 on March 31, 2009 at 7:09 PM

On the upside Obama did find a great Youth Hostel in Amsterdam from the State Department’s copy of Let’s Go Europe .

Ted Torgerson on March 31, 2009 at 7:09 PM

Must have been put together by Joe ‘Xerox’ Biden. Heh!

CrazyFool on March 31, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Joe is still back at the White House – he was correcting
his mistakes on the computer with White Out. He was going to
send Obama the new update but realized the screen would not
work without the computer. So he was going to take a picture of the screen
and send it over to MotoPhoto to get some 20×30 inch prints made.
Once that was done Joe was going to catch a train to Europe.

izoneguy on March 31, 2009 at 7:12 PM

Will Obama be handing out DVD sets for one and all?

joedoe on March 31, 2009 at 7:15 PM

My college professor friends are constantly complaining about the idiots students that cite Wikipedia as a scholarly source.

highhopes on March 31, 2009 at 6:59 PM

Wiki’s founder Jimmy Wales has publicly admitted that Wiki cannot be trusted as a credible reference source. He made the statement after getting flooded with angry mail from young Democrat college kids who had all gotten “F” grades on their term papers. All McCain voters, I am sure.

Wiki blows hot and cold-I’ve found that if the particular subject is one based on emotion, such as politics or music, things get out of hand very quickly.

However, if the reference is about something that is easily verified thru various other certified reliable sources, then it can be somewhat reliable. For example, they prove that getalife is lying thru its teeth when it claims Enron happened “on Bush’s watch”, and they also disprove all of the Leftist loons who claim the US gave Iraq the majority of their bad toys to play with.

Del Dolemonte on March 31, 2009 at 7:17 PM

Will Obama be handing out DVD sets for one and all?

joedoe on March 31, 2009 at 7:15 PM

Yeah, two box sets this time. The deluxe edition of “Duck Soup” and the director’s edition of “A Hard Day’s Night”.

Marx and Lennon, you know?

Del Dolemonte on March 31, 2009 at 7:19 PM

Look on the talk page; it gets better: This was assessed as a “C-class” article, the lowest assessment a fully-formed article can have. (Articles in the process of being built can be “stub” or “start.”) So they didn’t just lift; they lifted from a below-average article.

calbear on March 31, 2009 at 7:21 PM

[citation needed]

eigafan on March 31, 2009 at 7:27 PM

Ted Torgerson on March 31, 2009 at 7:09 PM

Awesome.

Proud Rino on March 31, 2009 at 7:30 PM

On the upside Obama did find a great Youth Hostel in Amsterdam from the State Department’s copy of Let’s Go Europe .

Ted Torgerson on March 31, 2009 at 7:09 PM

Dark. and also Light.

Key West Reader on March 31, 2009 at 7:34 PM

Would you bet your future on the Clinton emasculated CIA or the Panetta headed CIA?

Come on MayBee. The CIA has not been effective since Reagan.

Effective? The administration isn’t giving the press intelligence information about the countries they are visiting. They’re giving them information like that found in the CIA World Factbook or the State Department’s Country and Region information.

MayBee on March 31, 2009 at 7:38 PM

An administration of Lightworkers.

I don’t blame them though. They have no freakin’ knowledge of history, geography, culture, science or mathematics. All school grades were A’s for effort.

The low math skillz do pay off when they do their taxes, though, so they’re indispensable to the Idiot Party.

Dusty on March 31, 2009 at 7:46 PM

Leave Obama and his staff alone! They’re busy!

Raising taxes, evading taxes, withdrawing nominations, failing to report to Congress for TARP oversight, failing to hold legally required TARP oversight meetings, taking naps, programming their robots to post divisive comments on conservative blogs, plotting how to funnel TARP funds into campaign contributions, designing cars, plotting how to save the planet from Rush Limbaugh and other carbon sources, stimulating the growth of the economy government, sucking their thumbs, reprogramming their teleprompters…

You see? They’re very, very, very busy. So, be nice.

Loxodonta on March 31, 2009 at 7:47 PM

Similar wording appeared on the State Dept. Website as far back as 2005. Probably Team Obama just cribbed from State.

http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/u/47582.htm

bamaconservative on March 31, 2009 at 7:56 PM

Depth and thoroughness of research does not appear to be a WH skill or concern.

jeanie on March 31, 2009 at 8:06 PM

Hmmmmmmm……….let’s dub it “the cut and paste” administration.

GarandFan on March 31, 2009 at 8:31 PM

Did you read more of that column? It reads as if the reporters are from outer space and have no prior knowledge of the UK at all. I would hope that the reporters would not need the following information. Surely they know this kind of thing or can look it up for themselves.

The United Kingdom, we are told, is “slightly smaller than Oregon”. As for the the British climate, it is “generally mild and temperate” and “subject to frequent changes but few extremes of temperature”. A “group of islands close to continental Europe”, Britain has been “subject to many invasions and migrations”.

We’re taken through the Roman invasion (“brought more active contacts with the rest of Europe”), the Norman invasion (led to “active involvement in European affairs…for several hundred years”) and various travails with the Welsh, Scots and Irish before the British empire reached its zenith in Victorian times.

This is ridiculous. What a waste of time and paper and money. Is this new to the Obama administration and they thought it would be to reporters as well?

INC on March 31, 2009 at 8:34 PM

While my children weren’t allowed to cite Wikipedia for research papers, they were allowed to cite the CIA World Factbook, which interestingly doesn’t contain the same info as in the State Department’s press kit. Where would you go to for information if you were in the White House, Wikipedia or the CIA?

Buford on March 31, 2009 at 8:37 PM

An administration of Lightworkers.

I don’t blame them though. They have no freakin’ knowledge of history, geography, culture, science or mathematics. All school grades were A’s for effort.

The low math skillz do pay off when they do their taxes, though, so they’re indispensable to the Idiot Party.

Dusty on March 31, 2009 at 7:46 PM

If I were a WH reporter reading this, I’d be torn between exasperation and laughter that they came up with this stuff.

INC on March 31, 2009 at 8:41 PM

All those Lightworkers really know how to do well is astroturf and deal out a poisonous mix of Chicago politics of the mob, the machine and the radicals.

INC on March 31, 2009 at 8:46 PM

I suspect this is the original source. It has the same content as the Wikipedia article, with the exception of minor edits for clarity in the wiki version:

http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Economic_history_of_Britain_-_20th_Century/id/5008017

pifactorial on March 31, 2009 at 9:34 PM

The goal, presumably, is to allow the press convenient access to background information without requiring the reporters to gather the information themselves from various sources.

Tell me then….WTF are reporters supposed to do for a living? Isn’t gathering the information themselves from various sources how they get paid?

It could be me….maybe I’ve had it wrong all this time….

BobMbx on March 31, 2009 at 9:37 PM

Call me a gun-clingy paranoid religious nut, but I wager 5,000 Quatloos that Madame O or some 20-something Lady Panther on her staff commits at least 1 whopper-sized diplomatic blunder this week, most likely a bitter angry slap at the Queen.

Mike D. on March 31, 2009 at 7:06 PM

Now that would be good TV. How about Big MO having arms akimbo, doing that “walk like an Egyptian” head shake thing, give the Queen the bizz…

BobMbx on March 31, 2009 at 9:41 PM

I suspect this is the original source. It has the same content as the Wikipedia article, with the exception of minor edits for clarity in the wiki version:

http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Economic_history_of_Britain_-_20th_Century/id/5008017

pifactorial on March 31, 2009 at 9:34 PM

At the end of the experiencefestival.com article, it says:

Adapted from the Wikipedia article “20th Century”, under the G.N U Free Docmentation License. Please also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki

So that can’t be the original source.

fgh on April 1, 2009 at 12:26 AM

Wikipedia – the favorite source and haunt for liberals.

Wikipedia’s tagline line should be:
Facts are inconvenient things when you have an agenda to advance.

in_awe on April 1, 2009 at 3:09 AM

Did you ever think that maybe Wikipedia might have got its information off something the government issued earlier, musch earlier.

davod on April 1, 2009 at 7:07 AM

Good to know the Ivy League staffers at State are as dimwitted as their President.

Shows that all you have to do is to get into the Ivy League schools, you don’t have to actually do anything once you’re in there.

NoDonkey on April 1, 2009 at 9:49 AM