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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales: There’s going to be an ‘enormous backlash’ against Donald Trump’s lies

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Business Insider

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has some grudging respect for Donald Trump — but he thinks a backlash against the US president is coming.

Wales, who has been named in Business Insider’s UK Tech 100, said he does not necessarily buy into the narrative that Trump is not very smart.

He said the former star of “The Apprentice” deserves credit for his achievement in reaching the highest office in America and maintaining his core base of support.

“Donald Trump is a very talented man as a TV character, as a manipulator of the media, of news agenda. He’s played the entire world. We have to give him some kind of perverse credit for that,” Wales told Business Insider.

Trump has managed this, in part, because “he lies all the time and openly and cavalierly doesn’t care about the truth,” Wales said. But he thinks the truth will eventually catch-up with the president come the 2020 election.

“I actually think there is going to be an enormous backlash. I remain optimistic. I don’t think that the public doesn’t really care about the truth,” said Wales, who set up journalism operation Wiki Tribune to debunk fake news.

“These kind of things are sinking in. The idea that we first of all need to be able to trust our politicians to be honest, then we can have a serious debate about policy is really important.”

WikiTribune is still finding its feet

WikiTribune has an earnest approach to the truth.

After launching in October last year, the website recently underwent a redesign and is populated by a team of 10 journalists, who work alongside a “community” of truthseekers. Wales’ mission is to find stories that other major news sites overlook and give them a platform.

jimmy wales
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Getty

Wales admits WikiTribune is yet to have its breakthrough moment, but he says the news business is “intensely competitive” and he is comfortable with the progress the site has made to date.

“Nothing has really set the world on fire in terms of a big breakthrough story that changed the world but we’re young and we’re very small,” he continued.

“For me when I think about a project like WikiTribune, like all of my projects really, I think if I create something that I enjoy, something that I like, that’s what success is to me and then I hope other people like it as well.”

Ultimately, Wales thinks that the truth still matters and WikiTribune will find a place because getting to the bottom of an issue and establishing fact from fiction requires the kind of work the site is doing.

“It’s not easy to find the facts,” he said. “You have to be serious about it, you have to think carefully about reason and logic and how do you determine what is quality evidence and so forth, rather than trusting the latest tweet that comes across the line.”

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