Google has quietly inaugurated a system in which, when you search for a news site, they subjectively evaluate the site for you, including, in some cases, highly selective “fact checks.” I learned about this from the Daily Caller, which is incensed:
Google, the most powerful search engine in the world, is now displaying fact checks for conservative publications in its results.
No prominent liberal site receives the same treatment.
And not only is Google’s fact-checking highly partisan — perhaps reflecting the sentiments of its leaders — it is also blatantly wrong, asserting sites made “claims” they demonstrably never made.
When searching for a media outlet that leans right, like The Daily Caller (TheDC), Google gives users details on the sidebar, including what topics the site typically writes about, as well as a section titled “Reviewed Claims.”
[A] review of mainstream outlets, as well as other outlets associated with liberal and conservative audiences, shows that only conservative sites feature the highly misleading, subjective analysis. …
Big name publications like The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times are even given a column showcasing all of the awards they have earned over the years.
So what do you now see on Google if you search for Power Line? They feature, with pictures, three seemingly random posts we have done over the last day or two. For no apparent reason, they have a link that takes you to my author archive. They have a sidebar that features a blurb from left-leaning Wikipedia, along with “Topics They Write About.”
Note that they don’t, as of today, have a “fact check” section for us. But this is where the mischief starts. As you scroll down, you are directed mostly to what leftists think of Power Line. First you get Wikipedia, then a “Media Bias/Fact Check,” followed by our Facebook page, which we don’t really use and which gets very little traffic, and then the far-left Media Matters take on Power Line. Note that Media Matters says that I “run” Power Line, which is ridiculous. I’m not sure Media Matters has ever once gotten anything right:
This is not what a Google search on Power Line would have yielded a week or two ago.
Google evidently is sponsoring web site evaluations by Media Bias/Fact Check. I haven’t yet figured out who these guys are, but this is how they describe Power Line. Click to enlarge:
I have said before that I don’t mind being placed on the right; the question is, who is on the left? In other words, if someone says we are on the right, Fidel Castro was on the left and Paul Krugman is a centrist, we have a problem. But from what I have seen, MB/FC is pretty fair in its evaluations. We are in good company on the right, along with American Enterprise Institute, American Thinker, City Journal, Daily Caller, Federalist Society, Fox News, Heritage Foundation, National Review, PJ Media, Ricochet, The College Fix, Turning Point USA, Washington Free Beacon, and many more of our friends.
Who, then, is on the left? Black Lives Matter, CNN (!), Center for American Progress, Cosmopolitan, Daily Beast, Esquire Magazine, Gizmodo, Huffington Post, Media Matters, Ms. Magazine, MSNBC, New Republic, New Yorker, New York Magazine, People Magazine (!), Salon, Slate, and many more.
One can always quibble, but I think that is pretty fair.
Google has gone after some conservative sites much harder than Power Line; Gateway Pundit, for example.
We definitely need to keep an eye on this. There is no doubt that Google is a liberal organization that ruthlessly enforces leftism, where it can. Liberal companies that largely control the internet, like Google and Facebook, are obviously gearing up to meddle in the 2018 and 2020 election cycles on behalf of the Democratic Party. They are doing this by using “fake news” hysteria–even though that term has been almost entirely co-opted by President Trump–as an excuse to steer people away from conservative web sites, and toward liberal ones. I suspect we will revisit this topic more than once between now and November.
In the meantime, if I were giving legal advice to Google, I would urge them to be careful. Google has monopoly market shares both in search and web advertising. If Google is misusing that monopoly power to advance a partisan political agenda–which, I think, it pretty clearly is–that could well be the basis for antitrust enforcement action. The obvious remedy would be to split Google into eight or ten different companies, in order to assure competition both in search and in web advertising. I would be surprised if that sort of remedy is not being contemplated right now in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. If it isn’t, it should be.