Political website corrects erroneous information on Carriger entry
By Jeff Keeling
Barely an hour after jcnewsandneighbor.com reported a political website’s factual error concerning State House Republican candidate Phil Carriger, the entry was corrected. The site “ballotpedia.org” had reported that Carriger “was a 2014 Republican candidate for District 7″ and that “He was removed from the candidate list before the primary.”
Carriger told the News and Neighbor Thursday morning his bid for the 7th District seat is still alive despite the Wikipedia-like website’s report.
The page was the top hit when searching Google under the name “Phil Carriger.” As of early Thursday morning, the first section on the page at ballotpedia.org/Phil_Carriger read: “Phil Carriger was a 2014 Republican candidate for District 7 of the Tennessee House of Representatives. He was removed from the candidate list before the primary.”
Carriger said the information is false. “Was I removed? No,” Carriger said shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday. He said he was informed of the site Wednesday night.
“I sent an email last night to the editor of Ballotpedia,” Carriger said. “I informed that person that the information was false, that I was still on the ballot. I have not heard back from them.”
Carriger said he expected the Ballotpedia site to correct or remove the posting. He said he also asked the Ballotpedia editor what the source of the false information was. “Wiki” websites allow public editing under certain circumstances.
The site was corrected by an editor, “JoelW,” at 11:07 a.m.
Tyler King, project director for Ballotpedia’s State Legislative Project, said the erroneous post was made by Holli Eppli on May 22. He said the project checks state information monthly to see whether any candidates have been added or removed. King said he hadn’t been able to reach Eppli since learning of the error.
King said his staff tried to find alternate sources that might have prompted the May 22 change.
“We couldn’t find any alternate sources, and he’s clearly on the official candidate list,” King said. “We have no reason to believe the official candidate list was incorrect on May 22 when that change was made. It just appears that error was on our end completely.”
King had no idea what would have prompted the post. The link referenced in the May 22 post was to a Tennessee state document that clearly shows Carriger still a candidate.
“I won’t sugar coat it. Missing Carriger’s name there and removing it is well below our expectations,” King said, adding that the project will attempt to discern why the incident occurred.
“This is kind of egregious,” King said. “We definitely recognize that this can negatively impact a candidate’s campaign, especially with the profile so high up on a Google search.”
Before the correction was made, Carriger said the error made him wonder about possible manipulation of the website.
“It made me think of Richard Nixon,” Carriger said of his learning about the website error. “Dirty tricks.”
The state Republican primary is Aug. 7. Carriger faces incumbent Matthew Hill and an additional challenger, Todd Mitchell Franklin. As of 9:45 a.m. Thursday, the Ballotpedia pages of both Hill and Franklin also referenced Carriger’s alleged removal from the candidate list. Those sites both had the correct information Thursday afternoon as well.