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What Wikipedia Knew about Richard Blumenthal, and When It Knew It

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, May 18 2010

For what it's worth as an indicator of what the hive mind understood to be Richard Blumenthal's biography before today, the Connecticut Attorney General's Wikipedia entry on May 8th, the last day prior to today that it was edited, read, seemingly accurately, "He also served as as sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, with no mention of Vietnam." Blumenthal, you might know, was the subject of a New York Times' story this morning that questioned his comments incorrectly implying his service in Vietnam.

Tracking back through the Wikipedia archives, it turns out that that line about Blumenthal's service in the reserves was added by a user named Mossimo203, a frequent editor of Connecticut-related entries. (A look at versions of the page prior to that shows no mention of military service, though it's possible that something had been added and erased at some point along the way.) Mossimo203 added the "sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve" line to Blumenthal's Wikipedia entry on January 7th, 2010.

That date jumps out because it happens to be the day after Blumenthal announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by his fellow Democrat Chris Dodd.

Since the Times story broke, several Wikipedians have been vigorously hashing over how to construct the new section on Blumenthal's entry called "Lied about serving in Vietnam." A particular point of debate: whether or not it's appropriate to link to the book Stolen Valor : How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History.