It was bad enough that Palin appeared, on camera, to misspeak a historical fact about Paul Revere that anyone who’s watched School House Rock would know. But even worse was due to the media hubbub after she said it, some of her supporters attempted to alter the Wikipedia entry on Paul Revere to match up with what she said. (Revisions page, the article has now been locked from editing.)
After seeing it again reported on a morning news show, I was reminded initially of Stephen Colbert’s unverified facts on elephants that made it into Wikipedia entries, but then I remembered this while, in this case, The Simpsons didn’t say it first, they certainly said it best:
Don’t you worry about Wikipedia; we’ll change it when we get home … we’ll change a lot of things.
–Homer Simpson, “Apocalypse Cow“
While it’s kind of fun to track Wikipedia entries on public figures after scandal breaks out, to see a historical reference changed based solely on a poorly given on-the-spot sound bite* is a little scary. It’s like the opposite concept to the “Everything I say is a lie” paradox.**
* Because that’s all it is, mostly. I’ll grant that she’s got charisma, just really poor preparation. (Which far too many are willing to ignore in favor of dropped g’s.)
** For as long as that entry remains unchanged, anyway.