House conservatives have been searching for the opportunity to talk to Google CEO Sundar Pichai — and yesterday, in a packed Judiciary Committee, they finally got their chance. Thanks to a string of leaked emails and videos, most Americans already had a pretty good idea where the tech giant stands politically. But on Capitol Hill, 2,800 miles from his Google compound, it was important to be reminded.
Most Americans had probably never heard of Pichai until yesterday — but every one of them has felt his effect. With 90 percent of the world’s online searches at his fingertips, Pichai and his team have more to do with the information people see every day than almost anyone on the planet. That’s what makes his ideology so troubling. In a company so openly disgusted by half of the country, conservatives are right to wonder if they’re getting a fair shake.
Judging by the company Google keeps, they’re not. Back in February, the company finally admitted that one of the groups it trusts to “monitor” internet content is none other than the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) — a group that’s made a small fortune as political defamation machine. The fact that Google cozied up to Morris Dees’s group was especially surprising since everyone else — from the FBI and U.S. Army to Barack Obama’s Justice Department — backed away from SPLC for either its ties to domestic terrorism or its reckless “hate labeling.” As a growing number of journalists will tell you, the last organization anyone should be relying on for neutrality in the public debate is a group that even Politico called “a problem for the nation.”
Still, Pichai seemed to have no trouble defending the partnership, even when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) brought up SPLC’s role in inspiring gunman Floyd Corkins to walk in our building armed with enough ammo to kill everyone on staff. Despite that — and the string of scandals from falsely labeling conservatives — Pichai reiterated, “The Southern Poverty Law Center is a trusted flagger.”
Louie couldn’t believe his ears. “The Southern Poverty Law Center,” he argued, “has really stirred up more hate than about any other group I know. They stirred up one guy to the point that he went to the Family Research [Council] — and I know those people and they’re Christians. And they believe — and I believe — that Christianity is really more based on love than about any other religion in history… [a]nd yet they stirred up hate against [FRC] and a guy comes in shooting… Now, you consider them a trusted flagger, yet they keep creating problems for people that are not haters.”
And conservatives aren’t the only ones who think so. SPLC has raised the eyebrows of more than a few major news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Politico, and most recently, the Washington Post — who are all questioning the group’s credibility. “Researchers at the SPLC have set themselves up as the ultimate judges of hate in America,” the Post points out. “But are they judging fairly?” A growing number of people from both sides said no.
On yesterday’s “Washington Watch,” PJ Media’s Alex O’Neil thought Sundar’s answer on SPLC may be the most compelling evidence that Google is targeting conservatives.
“Sundar Pichai kept denying any evidence that Google has been discriminating against conservative and Christian groups… But I think the SPLC bit is very telling. You had the CEO of Google admit that he considers the Southern Poverty Law Center a ‘trusted flagger’ [even though it] lists mainstream conservative and Christian groups as ‘hate groups’ — along with the KKK. [This is who they] rely upon to determine which speech should or should not be allowed on YouTube.”
To O’Neil, who’s followed Google’s money, the company’s bias isn’t really a surprise. “What we’ve seen with a lot of big tech companies if you look at where their employees give money, it’s very firmly on the Democratic side.” If Sundar Pichai wants his company’s objectivity to be taken seriously, then he needs to walk away from politically-charged groups like the SPLC. Conservatives don’t want regulation, but we do want fairness.
For more on Google’s partnership with SPLC, don’t miss my conversation with Rep. Gohmert.
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.
EDITORS NOTE: This column with images and podcast is republished with permission.