June 26, 2019
The rest of the country knows it as the 2020 election. To the leaders at Google, it's the "Trump situation." And based on new undercover video, they'll do anything to prevent this president's history from repeating.
Americans knew there was a censorship problem at places like Google and Pinterest. Now, thanks to James O'Keefe and Project Veritas, they see just how bad it is. Turns out, platforms like this search engine aren't in the browsing business -- they're in the political business. And not as an unbiased observer. In the footage released Monday, Jen Gennai, head of Google's Responsible Innovation team, has been innovative all right -- especially when it comes to trying to alter the president's reelection chances.
"Elizabeth Warren is saying we should break up Google," Gennai was caught saying on tape. "And I love her, but she's very misguided. That will not make it better, it will make it worse, because now all these smaller companies who don't have the same resources that we do will be charged with preventing the next Trump situation." And according to the footage, those resources have been hard at work since 2016 "to make sure that we are ready for 2020."
To conservatives like Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), the surprise is not that companies like Google are trying to interfere with the election. The surprise is that they're being so candid about it. There's plenty of evidence from three years ago, he told me on "Washington Watch" that the search engine had rigged their algorithms to favor Hillary Clinton results over Donald Trump's. But here's the scary thing, he said. "More and more voters, especially undecided voters, get their news from Google search right? So this platform with its monopoly power has the ability to swing undecided voter could potentially swing an election... [T]his is something that we should all be concerned about."
It's time to take seriously what liberals in Big Tech are doing, he insisted -- "let alone what they're doing that we don't know about." After all, "we're talking about democracy. I mean, "You've got Google executives and Google employees saying, 'We want to manipulate the information that goes to voters, so that they will vote the way that we Google want them to vote. That's not democracy. That's not the rule of the people. That's rule by this multinational corporation."
If people were unconvinced about these leaders' motivations before, Project Veritas is making believers out of more every day. This morning, most of us woke up to the headlines that one leaked Google document compared conservatives like Ben Shapiro, PragerU, and others to "Nazis using dog whistles." And just as O'Keefe's post was approaching a million views, guess what? YouTube, which happens to be owned by Google, pulled it.
Here's the thing, Senator Hawley told me. Google is a private company, and it can do what it wants. But it certainly shouldn't be getting special deals and immunity from the federal government if they're going to try to influence the outcome of an election or silence conservatives. Under his new bill, the Internet Censorship Act, major tech platforms would have to start being politically neutral toward what content they allow or disallow. If they want to keep operating under this unique status, they should have to submit to an audit that proves they aren't discriminating against conservatives or the conservative viewpoint.
"And if Google doesn't want to do that because they're private company and they want to be out there as a progressive Left-wing company, that's fine. But then they shouldn't [get this special status from the] government..." And it's not just Google, Senator Hawley explains. It's Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and others too. Right now, he points out, "If Twitter takes away your account or Facebook takes down your post because they don't like that it's pro-life, there's currently nothing you could do to Facebook or to Twitter. They have immunity from liability." The traditional media, on the other hand, doesn't. "Whether it's television or newspapers or even online journalists... if they print stuff that's not true, if they slander you, if they discriminate against you, you can sue them [to hold them] accountable."
Every platform should be playing by the same rules. Either Google and the rest of Big Tech need to embrace the First Amendment and treat people fairly or they can wave goodbye to their cozy government deals.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.