On the Recent L.A. Times Article

Conservapedia got into the news again, this time through an article in today’s (June 19) L.A. Times by Stephanie Simon.

I’d say the article is about as can be expected, considering the limited resources the journalist probably had. The really good thing about the article in my opinion is that it rises a bit above the “Haha, look at the wacky conservatives and their article on Kangaroos” type of analysis that has characterized the typical press coverage of Conservapedia so far. There’s a bit of that, of course, but we also get an at least somewhat critical look at the people behind the site. Of particular interest is the mention of Dr. Lipson’s epic conflict with mr. Schlafly over breast cancer, which is referenced on page 2. It’s stories like these that we need to get out in the open.

Obviously, there’s a lot of things that the article doesn’t say. That’s unfortunate, since there’s much that I would have liked to see, such as the question of Conservapedia’s close ties to Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum and its role in their activities. A larger newspaper would have the necessary resources to delve into such questions that are well outside the scope of smaller operations like RationalWiki.com or this blog. Maybe that’ll come in the future, though.

The article is also noteworthy for featuring the first mention of RationalWiki.com in the mainstream media. Not bad for a small website that’s hardly a month old. Granted, the mention is not exactly flattering, but I guess that anything is better than nothing at this point.

Overall, a good, though not great article, which does cover some aspects of Conservapedia in greater detail than we have seen before in the media.


21 Responses to “On the Recent L.A. Times Article”

  1. 1 TK June 19, 2007 at 12:37 pm


    So what was all the crowing last week, and the dozens of posts about all the RW members that contacted the reporter? What about the other dozen or so she contacted by phone from CP, and the 50+ emails she received?

    She didn’t have “limited” anything, but your comment about that is indeed what I would have said to put a better face on it.

    And yes, congratulations for getting your first mention in the main stream media. Although perhaps being called Internet Vandals and Cyber Terrorists, isn’t quite so auspicious. :p

  2. 2 lanfranc June 19, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    All I’m saying is I’ve never met a journalist who didn’t have too few resources and too strict a deadline. My guess is that Conservapedia has a lot more dirt waiting to be uncovered if someone takes the time to look for it.

    And as long as CP is correctly portrayed as a site that does indeed block because of ideological conflicts, contrary to its own rules, I for one can live with a few unwarranted generalizations about vandals on RationalWiki.


  3. 3 TK June 19, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Unwarranted? She took RW’s own users statements, admitting to it! LOL! Jesus! Come on, at least be honest in everything, if you are going to insist on CP being so.

  4. 4 lanfranc June 19, 2007 at 12:54 pm

    Well, I’m an RW user and I’m not a vandal, or have ever been, so obviously that’s already some generalization going on there. And as far as I know, I’m not the only one.

    In this case, some RW users may have admitted to being vandals, which in the journalistic style gets shortened to all users being vandals. That’s unfortunate, but I recognize that’s how the media work sometimes.

  5. 5 PalMD June 19, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    If we are going to improve, we need to be open to criticism. I do agree that a significant role of some people at some point was vandalism, depending on how you define it. I would say, without any stats, that between the users and their socks, it has been mostly an attempt to insert truth, not vandalism, but we should continue to improve. Focusing efforts on RW, rather than on CP is a good start. Adding info is always the best way to go.

  6. 6 Aziraphale June 19, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    My free take, and worth every penny! –

    * TK’s mostly right (although I’m never a fan of gloating). The initial bent of RW has been “The Anti CP.” Granted, it’s trying to grow up a little bit, which is great, but that’s been the driving energy at the outset, so RW mise well own it and fly the flag proudly. All the talk about socks and such masks the good work you do at RW, the same way that Andy and co.’s insane rants mask the praise-worthy work that gets done by people like dpbsmith.

    * TK, she never called them terrorists, STFU. Seriously, you do the worst job of advocating your own position that I’ve seen in some time. I’m more sympathetic to your views than you might think, but if you actually want your point of view to get anywhere, you NOT saying anything would be a net gain compared to you saying things the way you do.

    * Not sure where any of y’all are from, but the LA Times is about as big a news operation as you can get in those parts. It’s certainly one of the few West Coast papers that can not embarrass itself when it claims to sit at the Big Boy table with the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. . . (I think the Sacramento Bee might be the other one, but I’m probably leaving somebody out).

    * She didn’t do CP any favors, although some of it was subtle (much like the vandalism advocated in that guidebook on RW whose names escapes me). Citing the Exxon Mobil(e) profits re: George Bush’s economic policy is probably meant to be a slam, since oil company profits are seen as an obscenity in some circles.

    Anyway, we’re all willing to roll our eyes at CP with its “any press is good press” attitude, so let’s not sugar-coat the fact that RW didn’t come out smelling like roses in this one.



  7. 7 Peter A. Lipson, M.D. June 20, 2007 at 3:02 am

    EDIT: Good

  8. 8 Peter A. Lipson, M.D. June 20, 2007 at 3:10 am

    EDIT: night

  9. 9 PalMD June 20, 2007 at 3:11 am

    EDIT: and

  10. 10 Peter A. Lipson, M.D. June 20, 2007 at 3:15 am

    EDIT: thank

  11. 11 PalMD June 20, 2007 at 3:16 am

    EDIT: you,

  12. 12 Peter A. Lipson, M.D. June 20, 2007 at 3:19 am

    EDIT: Magaldi!


  13. 13 PalMD June 20, 2007 at 4:01 am

    Well, i love a good spoof as much as anyone, but of course, none of the above comments, except the intelligent one, were mine. Some of them, though, I might have made under the right circumstances.

  14. 14 PalMD June 20, 2007 at 4:03 am

    BTW, when do I start getting conservative hate mail from the west coast?

  15. 15 TK June 20, 2007 at 5:10 am


    I contacted the Illinois Medical Board about your Perc addiction, however. 😉

  16. 16 lanfranc June 20, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Ah, nothing like a little impersonation to brighten up a boring morning. And my IP filter is up to a grand three entries now. Woot.

    But to be honest, PalMD, I’m not entirely convinced that you didn’t set up some proxy IP and proceeded to impersonate yourself. In your current drug-addled state, who knows what irrationalities you are capable of comitting? *nods*


  17. 17 PalMD June 20, 2007 at 12:49 pm

    Hey, Im off the good stuff now! My recovery is in full swing.

  18. 18 omgoat June 21, 2007 at 4:08 am

    I think the most amusing thing about all this is how serious the people from both CP and RW take this. There is a life outside teh interweb folks.

  19. 19 lanfranc June 21, 2007 at 7:17 am

    Now, that approach just a bit late-90’s, isn’t it, omgoat? These days, the Internet is an integrated part of many people’s lives, so it doesn’t really make much sense to divide it into Real Life and Online Life anymore. You might as well say that “there’s a life outside the telephone” or “outside your office”. No, the Internet is, among other things, a means of communication and collaboration on issues that often relate only too much to the real life.

    Besides, there are real people involved in this, and real political agendas being pushed out there in the “real world” through this, so I’d say it’s all real enough.

    In other words: Internets. Serious business.


  20. 20 human June 22, 2007 at 2:26 am

    I would also like to add that I am on RW, and while I was allowed to work at CP I also never vandalized the site, and have not since being banned for “vandal, sock, IceWedge gang”. Ironically, by M. Vandal Accusations Galore above – if that ‘TK’ is the same one as at CP. It does sound like it.

    RW’s only Cp-obsession is that is where the earliest of us met.

    The site is growing rapidly!

    We have over thirty in-depth, mostly obscene, witty and intelligent articles on letters and numbers alone.

  21. 21 Trashbat June 22, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Woo, “Cyber Terrorist”, I like that. Do I get to put it on my CV?

    I’d have to admit while most of my CP contributions were technically vandalism, it was all (mostly) witty and quite subtle.

    As I’ve said before, the people uploading pr0n and writing LOL DONGS!!11 on CP mostly came from 4chan and somethingawful.com I don’t know of any RW editors that behaved like that.

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