Topic: Media Research Center
We've documented how the Media Research Center invented search terms to dubiously accuse Google of bias because Republican campaign websites didn't show up high enough in the results -- without offering any evidence, scientific or otherwise, that those results were supposed to be the result of those searches. The MRC's dubious methods got promoted a few days later with more shoody research highlighted in a Nov. 2 post by Brian Bradley:
Google is burying the campaign websites of its fiercest critics on Capitol Hill.
Shortly after MRC Free Speech America released its study showing that Google suppressed Senate Republicans’ campaign websites in its search results, it now appears that Google is hitting members of both the House and Senate who have been critical of Google’s tactics. This is happening just as the country is gearing up to vote during the midterm elections on Nov. 8.
"First, Google was caught sending GOP emails to spam. Then we found Google suppressing the campaign websites of Republican Senate candidates. Now, we have evidence that Google is punishing Republicans who dared to speak out or take action against Big Tech by hiding their campaign websites in search results,” said MRC President Brent Bozell. “If this isn’t election interference, I don’t know what is."
MRC Free Speech America analyzed search results from Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo for 10 key congressional races involving current politicians who have aggressively acted against Big Tech, either legislatively or vocally. Our researchers caught Google — again — burying Republican Party campaign websites while highlighting their Democratic and independent opponents’ campaign sites in organic search results. The results follow up on MRC Free Speech America’s previous search engine studies on hotly contested Senate races, and also House races, where polling shows the House does not hang in the balance.
MRC Free Speech America researchers found that Google search results highlighted the Republican’s challenger in all 10 of the total House and Senate races reviewed.
- Google buried the campaign websites of lawmakers critical of Big Tech. Google censored the search results for Big Tech critics 100 percent of the time, either ranking their sites lower than that of their challengers or totally omitting Republican Big Tech critics’ campaign sites from the first page of results entirely.
- Google completely hid seven of the 10 total campaign websites of Republican Big Tech critics in page one organic search results. Seven of 10 Big Tech critics’ campaign websites did not appear on page one results using Google’s organic search. At the same time, Google put 67 percent of the campaign websites of the Big Tech critics’ opponents in the top six items of organic search results.
- Google showed egregious search bias when compared to Bing and DuckDuckGo. By comparison, when performing the exact same searches, Bing’s search results were relatively more neutral. Bing’s results highlighted the Republican opponent’s campaign websites 5 out of 10 times. DuckDuckGo elevated Republican opponents’ campaign websites in 4 out of 10 races.
The suppression could significantly impact the 2022 midterm elections, as over 90 percent of all searches are conducted on Google, according to Business Insider.
The methodology is trhe same as it was before:
MRC Free Speech America researchers searched each candidate's name with the words “House Race 2022” and "Senate Race 2022" using the algorithm. To determine bias, our researchers looked at Google’s results and recorded the rank(s) of each candidate’s campaign website.
Example(s): “Andy Biggs House Race 2022” and “Javier Garcia Ramos House Race 2022.”
And, as before, Bradley offered no explanation of why those particular search terms were chosen, that these are common search terms normal people use, or why these particular terms should have placed a candidate's website at the top of the results. That tells us this is a partisan work and not one that involves genuine research. Indeed, Bradley went on to hype right-wing activists portraying these results as somehow legitimate evidence of an election law violation:
Hans von Spakovsky, attorney and Election Law Reform Initiative manager with The Heritage Foundation, stated that Google’s suppression of search results could violate election law.
“It’s illegal for a corporation to make a direct financial contribution to a candidate, but the law and the regulations also prohibit [unreported] in-kind services,” von Spakovsky, a former Federal Election Commission (FEC) member, told MRC Free Speech America. “If, in fact, Google is burying the website and therefore restricting information on one candidate as opposed to another, that’s an in-kind service for that campaign.”
FEC rulings often come down to party lines and legal interpretations of the commissioners deciding the case, Foundation for Accountability and Civil Trust Executive Director Kendra Arnold told MRC Free Speech America.
The case for Google’s search suppression of certain candidates carries an extra layer of complexity because the technology aspect of how Google’s search works would need to be fully explained and proven, she said. Google is notorious for keeping its search algorithms under wraps. Failure to hold accountable Google and the tech industry writ large risks rendering future elections “meaningless” as it would let Big Tech “get away with subliminal manipulation,” liberal psychologist and researcher Dr. Robert Epstein, Ph.D said during 2019 Senate testimony.
Proving an election law violation would be more difficult in the case of Google search suppression, “because by nature it’s less visible and is more factual-intensive than other cases, which are quite simple,” said Arnold, who gave the example of “an advertisement running that everyone can see.”
Epstein was quoted in the MRC's other "study" as well, even though, as we've noted, Epstein's research alleging Google search bias in the 2016 election has been discredited. You can tell that Bradley is trying to boost Epstein's credibilty by adding "Dr." and "Ph.D." to his name.
Of course, the point of all of this was not to conduct legitimate "research" but to manufacture results for political exploitation. Which is why Bozell went on Fox News on Nov. 4 to rant about it:
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell on Thursday blasted Google on Fox News at Night after yet another MRC study exposed the Big Tech giant’s left-wing bias just days before the historic 2022 midterm elections.
Bozell didn’t hold back on the anti-American, anti-free-speech “Googlers” attempting to subvert American elections. “This is an illegal corporate contribution by Google, trying to affect elections,” Bozell said. “Anyone running for office, if you’re a voter, you want information, in seven out of ten cases, you couldn't find the candidate if he was Republican.”
Bozell then went on Fox Business on Nov. 8 to rant fuerther:
“Google is manipulating information.” Media Research Center President Brent Bozell demanded Google be held accountable for its anti-American and anti-free-speech attempts at influencing American elections during a Monday segment on Fox Business.
“This is, I believe, an illegal contribution they’re making to the democratic process,” Bozell stated on the Nov. 7 edition of Fox Business’s The Evening Edit. He continued: “They have got to be investigated. The Democrats don’t want to do it. If the Republicans take over, they have got to investigate what Google is doing because I think democracy is in danger when they can manipulate the voters this way.”
Bozell knows nobody at Fox News or Fox Business will ever seriously question him about the shoddy, unscientific methodology his employees are using -- he'll be able to rant at length and the hosts will just nod and smile. That's how the right-wing outrage machine gets fed, after all.