Dem knocks GOP colleagues: Blame 'yourself' for unfavorable Google search results

Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuBooker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements House Dem vets press McConnell on emergency declaration Watchdog organization calls for investigation into Kushner clearance MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday compared positive and negative Google search results for two GOP lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee to rebut claims that the search engine is biased against conservatives.

Lieu compared the top Google results for Rep. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThis week: Congress set for next stage of Mueller probe fight Why do so many Democrats embrace hate speech? Conservatives wage assault on Mueller report MORE (R-La.) — which included positive reviews for Scalise's new book — with the top results for Rep. Steve KingSteven (Steve) Arnold KingMan arrested for allegedly throwing glass of water at Steve King House Dem renews call for censuring Steve King Louisiana rep calls Steve King a 'white supremacist' after Katrina comment MORE (R-Iowa) that featured an article referring to King's "racist immigration talk."

ADVERTISEMENT

The California Democrat made the comparison during a Judiciary Committee hearing as conservative lawmakers on the panel grilled Google CEO Sundar Pichai over allegations that the company is biased against conservatives.

The CEO repeatedly pushed back on the claims, insisting there are no politics involved in the algorithms Google uses. 

"Last week ... I searched for Congressman Steve Scalise," Lieu said. "He is a Republican. The first four articles that came up were generally pretty positive."

As Lieu spoke, one of his aides held up a large poster showing the first four Google results for his search, none of which appeared critical.

Lieu then pressed the Google CEO on whether employees tried generating positive search results.

"You don’t have a group of people at Google sitting there thinking, 'Hey we like Steve Scalise, so we’re gonna generate positive articles on these search results'?" Lieu asked.

Pichai said the company does not.

"Nowhere in your programming code does Congressman Steve Scalise even show up, is that right?" Lieu asked, to which Pichai agreed.

Lieu then said he would conduct a "real-time Google search" tweaking one word: changing "Scalise" to "King." 

King was in the room during the back-and-forth.

"The article that pops up is from ABC News," Lieu read. "'Steve King's racist immigration talk prompts calls for Congressional censure.'"

King has been under increasing fire as critics accuse him of making racist and xenophobic comments about immigrants. 

"That’s a negative article," Lieu said. "But you don’t have a group of people at Google sitting there ... trying to modify search results, [so] every time Steve King comes up, a negative article appears. That’s not what’s happening, right?" 

Pichai said Google's search engine reflects "what is currently being discussed about that phrase." 

"Let me just conclude here by stating the obvious," Lieu said, addressing Republican lawmakers. "If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don’t want negative search results, don’t do negative things." 

"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," Lieu said. "Consider blaming yourself."