Hillary Gets Special Protection On Wikipedia

Despite the steady wave of scandals that have begun to erode even the New York Times’ portrayal of Hillary Clinton, her image remains unblemished on Wikipedia. Since he first started editing her page in June 2005, Hillary’s “Wikipedia watchdog" has been guarding against slanders, accusations, unfair assumptions, and distortions on the high-traffic, heavily footnoted, highly policed Hillary Rodham Clinton Wikipedia page.    

Unlike most Wikipedia editors, who prefer to remain anonymous, "Wasted Time R" has no problem giving his real name: Jonathan Schilling. Leading up to Hillary’s failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, Schilling’s significant role in the shaping of the image of the former first lady was the subject of several interviews and articles, including pieces by NPR, BBC, Canadian Radio, and New Republic.

"I figure if you're going to be doing this ... you might as well own up to who you are," Schilling said.

In a piece on the wiki pages of Hillary and Obama, New Republic's Eve Fairbanks described Schilling as “the man who protects Hillary's online self from the public's hatred.” His dedication to the unofficial job is stunning: he estimated in 2008 that he spent 15 hours a week editing, with most of that, as Fairbanks says, “standing watch over Hillary’s page.”

After he started editing her page in June 2005, Schilling became consumed with trying to capture her uncomfortable place in American culture, researching and writing a whole section on how she polarizes the public. At the same time, he also believes Hillary the woman is widely misunderstood. "One of the things I've tried to get across in the article was how much people were impressed by her before she got married to Bill," he says.

He told interviewers that though he voted for Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2008, he was not editing her site in order to get her elected, nor had he been in any contact with her staff.

"I'm definitely not protecting the person. I'm definitely protecting the article as a fair and viable biography," said Schilling. "We have an obligation to remove anything untrue."

"You constantly have to police [the page]," said Schilling. "Otherwise, it diverts into a state of nature.”

And police he does, as Fairbanks noted, “Hardly a news event or argument over her situation goes by without Wasted Time R's input: He edited her page 77 times in the last month, mostly pruning away changes he viewed as inappropriate, such as a rant about Geraldine Ferraro or a stealthy effort to diminish Hillary's role in improving the State Children's Health Insurance Program.” NJ.com’s Kelly Heyboer’s listed some of Schilling's edit wars leading up to the 2008 election, including removing the words "lesbian" and "communist," a reference to Clinton having "murdered" White House counsel Vince Foster in the 1990s, and replacing a deleted passage about Bill's affair with Gennifer Flowers. 

Despite the high-profile nature of Clinton, Schilling has been in a unique position to “shape her article,” in large part because of his ongoing dedication; Wasted Time R’s editor page reveals that after nearly 10 years “guarding” the site, he remains a lead Hillary editor.

A few recent additions to the Hillary Rodham Clinton page provide some insight into the nature of the tone Schilling has established toward the 2016 hopeful. The section addressing the Benghazi hearing describes her as taking “formal responsibility” while defending her actions, but notably leaves out the notorious “What difference does it make...?” outburst, stating only that at points during her testimony she had “emotional or angry responses”:

Clinton gave Congressional testimony on the Benghazi attack on January 23, 2013. She defended her actions in response to the incident and, while still accepting formal responsibility, said she had had no direct role in specific discussions beforehand regarding consulate security. Congressional Republicans challenged her on several points, sometimes triggering emotional or angry responses from her.

Concerning her post-Secretary of State activities, the page notes that her foundation accepted “new donations from foreign governments, which it had stopped doing while she was secretary” and that Hillary began giving speeches for which she received “about $200,000 per engagement.” 

It also acknowledges Emailgate, but downplays the legal and political ramifications and is mum on the Associated Press suing the State Department soon after the story broke:

In March 2015, Clinton's practice of using her own private e-mail address and server throughout her time as Secretary of State, rather than departmental ones, gained widespread public attention due to concerns about the security of mails she sent and received, the availability and preservation of them for Freedom of Information Act requests and the archival historical record, and whether her action had violated any federal laws, regulations, or guidelines. In response, Clinton said she had a few months earlier turned over many e-mails to the State Department following their request and that she wanted them made public. 

Hillary's Wikipedia article consistently comes up near the top in a Google search for her name and earns hundreds of thousands of views each month. The New York Times may grow scandal-weary, but Hillary's Wikipedia watchdog remains steadfast in protecting her highly influential profile.