- During a hearing on Tuesday with the CEO of Google, Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California went after a Republican colleague with a history of making racist remarks.
- Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who has repeatedly gotten in hot water over his insensitive comments about race, recently won reelection.
WASHINGTON – A Democratic representative went after a Republican colleague on Tuesday during a hearing with the CEO of Google, citing negative search results about a congressman who has repeatedly been accused of making racist remarks.
During a House Judiciary Committee hearing in which Google CEO Sundar Pichai testified, Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California singled out Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who recently saw many high-profile donors retreat from supporting him in the wake of increased scrutiny over his remarks and actions.
Lieu read headlines from a Google search about House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Noting that the first few articles about Scalise were favourable to him and included those from conservative media outlets, Lieu asked Pichai whether people at Google were manipulating those results to favour Scalise.
“You don’t have a group of people at Google sitting there thinking, ‘Hey, we like Steve Scalise, so we’re going to generate positive articles on these search results,'” he said. “That’s not what’s happening, right?”
Pichai said no, adding, “We don’t deal with individual queries and with any viewpoint.”
But then Lieu pivoted, pulling out his smartphone for a Google search in real time and entering King’s name.
King, who was sitting across the room on the powerful House panel, became visibly perturbed.
“I’m going to change one word. So I’m going to search for ‘Congressman Steve King,’ I’m going to hit the ‘News’ tab,” Lieu said. “First article that pops up is from ABC News. It says ‘Steve King’s racist immigration talk prompts calls for congressional censure.’ That’s a negative article. But you don’t have a group of people at Google sitting there thinking and trying to modify search results – every time Steve King comes up, a negative article appears. That’s not what’s happening, right?”
Pichai again said no, reiterating that Google does not manipulate results for people in that way.
“So let me just conclude here by stating the obvious,” Lieu responded. “If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don’t want negative search results, don’t do negative things.
“And to some of my colleagues across the aisle, if you’re getting bad press articles and bad search results, don’t blame Google or Facebook or Twitter – consider blaming yourself,” he added.
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