On Thursday, the Wikipedia page describing the career of liberal “Rolling Stone” blogger Matt Taibbi was vandalized on more than a half-dozen separate occasions, apparently by readers angry about an article in which he castigated the late Andrew Breitbart. Taibbi wrote, among other things, that he “couldn’t be happier” Breitbart died suddenly Wednesday night.
Cue the Wikipedia vandals.
Taibbi’s “Andrew Breitbart: Death of a Douche” was, according to some online commenters, a vulgar homage to Breitbart, the sort of off-the-hook tirade Taibbi believed the conservative entrepreneur would have appreciated.
“So Andrew Breitbart is dead,” the article began. “Here’s what I have to say to that, and I’m sure Breitbart himself would have respected this reaction: Good! Fuck him. I couldn’t be happier that he’s dead.”
Taibbi even footnoted his final written farewell to Breitbart — “Good riddance, cocksucker” — to Breitbart’s self-confessed love for the word, which he shared with The New Yorker in 2010.
But the article’s headline and its first lines were incendiary. And within hours, had Taibbi visited his own Wikipedia page, he would have been met with a picture of elephant manure — and, later, with a photograph of an improbably flexible man giving himself oral sex. (MORE TASTEFUL: Tucker Carlson remembers his friend, Andrew Breitbart)
The Wikipedia editing log associated with Taibbi’s biography shows a nearly five hour-long flurry of activity Thursday, culminating in an editor’s decision to “freeze” the page in a way that permitted no further changes.
By the time cooler heads prevailed, one Wikipedian had changed Taibbi’s listed occupation from “journalist” to “Faux journalist.” Another would later add the same word — “douche” — that Taibbi had used to describe Breitbart.
The person who replaced Taibbi’s portrait with a photo of elephant dung also added a “spouse” category and entered the descriptive phrase “vaseline and a sock.”
The Wikipedia article itself went through a series of changes, with its first sentence altered at first to describe Taibbi as “a pathetic human being and utter moron,” and then as a “piece of human excrement.”
An even more adventurous vandal added the accusation that Taibbi wrote “often in [a] manner which emphasizes how much of a pretentious cockfag he is.” That vulgarity replaced the kinder note that he writes “often in a polemical style.”
These and other edits were removed somewhat quickly by Wikipedia’s citizen editors, who regularly police the pages of both major and minor celebrities and political figures, in an effort to maintain the often challenged integrity of the popular online encyclopedia.
When the dust settled, only one edit from Thursday remained. “Taibbi came under fire in March 2012,” it read — and still reads — “after posting comments critical of Andrew Breitbart after Breitbart’s death, including a statement that he ‘couldn’t be happier that [Breitbart is] dead.’ In response, Taibbi’s Wikipedia page was vandalized.”
Taibbi did not respond to an emailed request for comment.