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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

The objective Trump biography he’d likely want banned


No doubt well-known historians like Doris Kearns Goodman, John Meecham, and Michael Beschloss, frequent guests on MSNBC, have either begun to prepare their biographies of Trump or are considering whether to undertake writing them. However, the “book” covering Trump from his early life to the present moment has already be published.

There are already books about Trump but these have all have a political slant. As of Sept. 2018 there were at least 15 of them listed in an article from Business Insider. They range from books by Trump sycophants like Judge Jeanine Pirro (“Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy” and harsh critics like David Cay Johnson (“It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration Is Doing to America”). The most well-known anti-Trump books are “Fear: Trump in the White House” by Bob Woodward, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” by Michael Wolff, and “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House” by Omarosa Manigault Newman. This list doesn’t include many publications from what political scientist Norman Ornstein calls a “major Trump accomplishment:” the booming industry in books about him, his administration, the state of democracy in America, the rise of autocracy in America and abroad, the reasons for his rise, the bases of his support, the state of the Republican Party, the state of his mental health or lack thereof, the chaos in his White House and so on. Not all are strictly about Trump — the fact is the conditions and dynamics that brought us Trump long preceded him, and the changes in the fabric of our Republic are paralleled by changes in other longstanding democracies around the globe.” It also doesn’t include the best seller “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” where 27 authors, mostly mental health professionals, explain why Trump’s psychopathology renders him unfit, indeed, dangerous, to have the responsibility entrusted to a president.

There is one nearly book length biography that doesn’t make the list. It has no listed authors. It is free. It is easily accessible on your computer. It is also about as objective as any book by a legitimate historian. On entry features nearly 800 references. Most of the references are actual links to the sources.

You already know what I am referring to having seen the image I created for this column. The two primary articles about Trump are about him and about his presidency.

Within each of these articles are links to numerous other articles, if this was a book they’d be called chapters, about hundreds of specific subjects from the campaign to the presidential transition to Trump’s policy positions, to all of the Trump controversies. There are also links to articles on everyone who has had an impact on or been involved with Trump and his presidency.

There is no Wiki page for Trump controversies. If you search this you find links to a seeming endless number of articles about controversies involving Trump starting with a 12,000 word article on his racial views and end with “How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions”.

Taken together and printed on paper all the articles on Wikipedia about Trump would no doubt be thousands of pages long and require a multi-volume multi-author encyclopedia. Indeed that is what this is.

The accuracy of Wikipedia has been assessed many times. In 2005 the journal Nature compared Wikipedia with the Britannica on science articles and found they were by and large the same when it came to accuracy

Fox Business was less than enthusiastic in 2015 but noted that users, especially students, should always double-check the references used in articles before they simply accept the purported facts in Wiki articles. An undated article from the “for Dummies” series on using the Internet notes that before relying on Wiki one should:

  • Look for a slant. Some articles are fair and balanced, but others look more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If an article has only one source, beware.
  • Consider the source. Even if an article cites external sources, check out those sources to see whether they are being cited fairly and accurately — and do, in fact, reinforce the article’s points.
  • Look who’s talking. If you research the contributors themselves and find that they are experts in their fields, you can be more confident in the entry.
  • Start here, but keep going. Wikipedia should be a starting point for research but not your primary source for research material.

All this being said, these cautions are no more or less than a reader should pay heed to when reading anything written about a political figure, let alone a highly controversial president like Donald Trump.

Wikipedia is highly specific and users have to understand that while it is as timely as the daily news on some subjects it may take time for volunteer contributors to assure that important developments migrate from the primary specific page to other more general pages. For example Trump’s current controversial decision to order American troops out of Syria is reference in a single sentence, “on 19 December 2018, President Donald Trump announced he will bring home the remaining 2,000 US troops still in Syria, effectively ending the US presence in Syria,”[466] in the  American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War entry but not in all the relevant general entries about Trump’s presidential controversies.

Because Wikipedia present an unbiased, fact-based, highly referenced, portrayal of Donald Trump I have no doubt that if he was aware of what was written there about him he would find some reason to call it all fake and demand that it be banned.


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