In many Republican circles, it’s taken as a given that Google is an opposition entity that’s deliberately undermining conservatives. All GOP officials need at this point is some shred of proof to support their assumptions.
This week, some on the right thought they’d finally found something: a leaked video of discouraged Google executives talking to employees in the wake of Election Day 2016. The Washington Post reported:
The new controversy stems from a roughly hour-long recording published Wednesday by Breitbart. It shows executives such as Sergey Brin, the president of Google parent Alphabet, and Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google, addressing staff at a private meeting days after the 2016 election, the outcome of which Pichai said caused “a lot of fear within Google.”
As they expressed their dismay, Google executives sought to assuage employees, especially immigrants, given the incoming president’s pledge before Election Day to toughen security at the border. In doing so, Google’s leaders encouraged their workers to be understanding of “all sides of the political spectrum,” said Eileen Naughton, the company’s vice president for people operations.
In response to the video, Brad Parscale, Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign manager, said the company “needs to explain why this isn’t a threat to the Republic.”
Given over-the-top responses like Parscale’s, one might assume the video featured comments about Google conspiring behind the scenes to help Democrats over Republicans, but there’s no such evidence. On the contrary, it shows Google founder Sergey Brin saying, “As an immigrant and a refugee, I certainly find this election deeply offensive and I know many of you do too.”
Sure, conservative Trump supporters disagree with Brin’s comments, but disappointment from a progressive tech executive does not a conspiracy make. The right’s new bombshell does effectively nothing to help conservatives’ cause: it shows some Trump critics coming to terms with the results of a shocking election.
It does not show anyone at Google taking any steps to manipulate the tech giant for political ends. There are probably thousands of American companies led by executives who were disappointed with the election results two years ago, but to assume that those companies are therefore part of a scheme to undermine the president’s political party is a little silly.
The broader problem, of course, is that Republicans keep trying to find evidence to bolster their anti-Google ideas and they keep failing. Trump’s State of the Union example from a few weeks ago was quickly embraced by GOP leaders, but it was also demonstrably wrong. The president’s attack on Google News was even harder to take seriously.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Texas) came up with a criticism of his own, telling Fox News viewers that Google told its users that the California Republican Party is driven by a “Nazi” ideology, but it turns out this was the result of a dumb Wikipedia edit, not Google bias.
If Republicans expect the public to take their anti-Google ideas seriously, they’ll have to pick up their game.
Postscript: Google, it turns out, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Donald Trump’s inaugural fund two years ago. By the right’s reasoning, should the left start accusing the company of having a pro-Trump bias?