I was in the meeting where Eric Schmidt of Google said Google was built to control elections

96 Percent of Google Search Results for 'Trump' News Are from DNC-controlled Liberal Media Outlets

 
BY PAULA BOLYARD A

Is Google manipulating its algorithm to prioritize left-leaning news outlets in their coverage of President Trump? It sure looks that way based on recent search results for news on the president.

Conservatives and Trump supporters have for the last several years questioned whether Google was deprioritizing conservative news sites, hiding them from users who utilize their search engine. Google has maintained that all outlets are treated fairly, but nevertheless, conservative sites have reported reduced search traffic and, in the case of Google-owned YouTube, content creators have been banned and demonetized. Google's high-profile firing of conservative James Damore, purportedly over his conservative political views, only reinforces the idea that Google is picking winners and losers.

To test the premise, I performed a Google search for "Trump" using the search engine's "News" tab and analyzed the results using Sharyl Attkisson's media bias chart.

I expected to see some skewing of the results based on my extensive experience with Google, but I was not prepared for the blatant prioritization of left-leaning and anti-Trump media outlets. Looking at the first page of search results, I discovered that CNN was the big winner, scoring two of the first ten results. Other left-leaning sites that appeared on the first page were CBS, The Atlantic, CNBC, The New Yorker, Politico, Reuters, and USA Today (the last two outlets on this list could arguably be considered more centrist than the others).

Not a single right-leaning site appeared on the first page of search results.

But it got much, much worse when I analyzed the first 100 items that Google returned in a search for news on "Trump."

CNN, by a wide margin, appeared most frequently, with nearly twice as many results returned as the second-place finisher, The Washington Post. Other left-leaning outlets also fared well, including NBC, CNBC, The Atlantic, and Politico. The only right-leaning sites to appear in the top 100 were The Wall Street Journal and Fox News with 3 and 2 results respectively.

PJ Media did not appear in the first 100 results, nor did National Review, The Weekly Standard, Breitbart, The Blaze, The Daily Wire, Hot Air, Townhall, Red State, or any other conservative-leaning sites except the two listed above.

Here are the sites that appeared most frequently in the top 100 results.

Google search results for "Trump." (Image credit: PJ Media)

As you can see, CNN has a disproportionate number of articles returned when searching for "Trump" — nearly 29 percent of the total. In fact, left-leaning sites comprised 96 percent of the total results.

Google search results for "Trump." (Image credit: PJ Media)

I performed the search a multiple times using different computers (registered to different users) and Google returned similar results. While not scientific, the results suggest a pattern of bias against right-leaning content.

Google is secretive about its algorithm, although the company does say that a variety of factors — around 200 of them, according to Google — go into how pages are ranked. In fact, a whole science has developed — called search engine optimization (SEO) — that purports to help sites become more visible in Google search results. Factors such as the relevance of the topic, the design of the website, internal and external links, and the way articles are written and formatted all can affect a site's Google traffic. Google is constantly tweaking their algorithm, and a website's traffic prospects can rise or fall depending on the changes. PJ Media's Google search traffic, for example, dropped precipitously after a May 2017 algorithm change. We have yet to recover the lost traffic. Other conservative sites have reported similar drops in traffic.

"Can I Rank," an SEO company in San Francisco, also found an anti-conservative bias in Google search results. The company studied over 1,200 URLs that ranked highly in Google search results for politically-charged keywords like "gun control," "abortion," "TPP," and Black Lives Matter" and then assessed whether there was a political slant to the articles.

"Among our key findings were that top search results were almost 40% more likely to contain pages with a 'Left' or 'Far Left' slant than they were pages from the right," Can I Rank found. "Moreover, 16% of political keywords contained no right-leaning pages at all within the first page of results."

They sampled 2,000 results and found that searchers are 39 percent more likely to be presented with left-leaning articles.

For some keywords, the disparity was even more pronounced. Someone searching for "Republican platform," for example, would see the official text of the platform followed by seven left-leaning results that were critical of the platform.

The company's research turned up no right-leaning sites in the top results for keywords like “minimum wage,” “abortion,” “NAFTA,” “Iraq war,” “campaign finance reform,” “global warming,” “marijuana legalization,” and "TPP."

"The proportion of results with a left-leaning bias increased for top ranking results, which typically receive the majority of clicks," the company found. "For example, we found that search results denoted as demonstrating a left or far left slant received 40% more exposure in the top 3 ranking spots than search results considered to have a right or far right political slant."

"Our analysis of the algorithmic metrics underpinning those rankings suggests that factors within the Google algorithm itself may make it easier for sites with a left-leaning or centrist viewpoint to rank higher in Google search results compared to sites with a politically conservative viewpoint," the report found. "Though Google would like to portray itself as a fair and balanced arbiter of facts — a role it has recently tried to strengthen with the launch of a fact checking mechanism — searchers should be aware that ranking algorithms don’t currently incorporate an assessment of political bias or even factual accuracy," the company warned. "No attempt is made to present multiple viewpoints on controversial political issues, and the algorithm in its current form does not return results equally distributed across the entire political spectrum."

Google denies charges that the company is manipulating the algorithm to prioritize news from left-leaning sites. "Google does not manipulate results," Maggie Shiels, a representative from Google's corporate communications and public affairs, told PJM in an email. "There are more than 200 signals taken into account when someone does a search which include freshness of results."

"These stories are put into clusters to organise the news and to make them easy to search through," she said, explaining that they have "labels like highly cited, in-depth, etc." She said her personal search for Trump returned results from BBC, the New York Times, CNBC, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal. "When I click on 'view all' I get full coverage -- I get CNN, Reuters, Axios, Washington Examiner," she said. Following those results, she sees her subscriptions, video from Fox and CNN, a timeline, opinion pieces, Twitter, and "all coverage which covers a lot of different publications and is an endless stream of stories from a wide variety of sources."

Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky wrote about the problem of bias earlier this year, reacting to the news of James Damore's treatment at Google. "Google's search algorithms are a black box to the public," he explains. "People inside the company can mess with them without telling us, potentially imposing their internal culture on millions of searchers who have no reason and no desire to share it. This world includes Trump supporters and Antifa activists, creationist pastors and evolutionary biologists, climate change deniers and people who consider them evil. It's not up to an internet search company to try to level these differences."

"But if that company fosters a work culture in which a certain worldview dominates, can its products be trusted to be neutral?" he asks.

It appears not.

My colleague Roger L. Simon is asking the same questions. He wrote here at PJM earlier this week that social media companies are the most dangerous monopolies — ever. "Facebook, Twitter, and Google are far worse than the original monopolies like International Harvester and Standard Oil and far more dangerous because they monopolize not just our industries but our brains," he explained. "They control, or at least inordinately influence, how Americans and even much of the world think."

As more and more people turn to Google and other social media outlets for their news, it may not be hyperbolic to suggest that the biases inherent in human-created algorithms have the potential to affect the fate of democracy. Certainly they can — and likely do — impact the outcomes of elections both here and abroad. With all the talk and hand-wringing about fake news and bad foreign actors using social media outlets to attempt to manipulate election results, far too little attention has been paid to power brokers like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and their ability —  and perhaps even desire — to manipulate public opinion and shape the world into their own Silicon Valley image.

  • "Is Google manipulating its algorithm to prioritize left-leaning news outlets in their coverage of President Trump?"

    You mean that there was a chance that they weren't?

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      It's worse for g00gle image searches. Today, I was watching a documentary that featured river otters in India taking down a crocodile! I searched for "India otters harass alligator" and got a photo of POTUS on the tarmac from August 22! When I changed alligators to crocodiles, I did get one bad photo, so here is a river otter's protest instead, for being disrespected:

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      "The presence of otters signals that a riverine ecosystem is healthy. Credit: WildOtters [google search India otter harrass crocodile]

      Any image search with 'White House' returns the previous WH, as if history stopped on January 19, 2017. President Kenyatta is coming to the WH on August 27, and the 'all' results are from his 2014 visit, as are the images, even with 2018 in the search terms. I continue to use g00gle search to see how the results skew, but, the otters...

      see more
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    Google does this with virtually any subject you can dream up to search, one in particular is "black unemployment." The top two talk about low black unemployment with "but there's a catch" in the title. The Washington Examiner is on the second page of results, the Daily Caller on the third, but I would bet that less than 5% of people go past the first page of search results on nearly any topic.

    Herein lies the biggest meddling that will take place this November, Google search results, mainly because it's undecided voters who find it important to gather information on topics at the last minute so they can figure out how or for whom to vote.

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    There's only one way to solve this problem: smoke signals.
    Going forward conservatives will have to cast aside all forms of media communications and technology and opt for smoke signals.
    Its a legitimate, sophisticated form of communication, and one approved by Heap Big Chief Trump himself:
    "Heap Big Chief Trump tweet'um for last time. Now troll'um fake news palefaces with smoky signals in big sky. Very good". 

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    Trump's first "tweet" using the new format. It say:
    "Heap Big Chief Trump eat'um crackers in bed, anger paleface squaw Melania, who hate crumbs. Chief Trump sleep'um on couch tonight. Very bad".

    see more
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    UNFIT TO SERVE 45

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    Um, you are aware that Facebook informs users that PJMeida is a conservative organization?

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    Is this something 4chan can hack?

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    Quote: As you can see, CNN has a disproportionate number of articles returned when searching for "Trump" — nearly 29 percent of the total.

    That clearly cannot be based on Google merely reflecting the popularity of CNN as a news source. Fox News is beating the socks off CNN.

    And for what it is worth, I gave up on Google's own news service long ago. For the source of news about the runaway bride from Atlantic, they were clearly pushing the Chinese News Service, the propaganda are of the Chinese government, rather than the much better informed Atlanta papers. And I recall at the time that it was pandering to the Chinese dictatorship to get lucrative access to the Chinese market.

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    Hi,

    You have some great information here, but James Damore is not conservative. You can watch interview with him (e.g. Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin) to learn his views. Also, his views were not conservative - his essay was a question prompted based on feedback requested by internal training courses he had participated in at google.

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    I don't know about now, and wouldn't doubt Google would pull this sort of stuff, but...

    In the past Google judged search results based on the number of links to that site. If a ton of lefty nutballs linked chimp to an image of George W Bush that image would show up on top when you searched for chips. The left has been particularly insane lately and I suspect Facebook memes play into this sort of thing big time so Google might be somewhat innocent and its just the left being the left.

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    If you go back into the 90's and 2000's, you'll see that many people have noted how left-leaning Googles news and search results are. I.e., they've been doing it for so long, they probably can't see anything wrong with it.

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    You can set your news preferences in Google News to not show stories from a particular outlet, but it doesn't work. You can set it to not show results from CNN, and it'll ignore your settings.

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    Fortunately most conservatives and thinking Independent voters don't search political POV on google. Unfortunately republican congress doesn't vote how they campaign. It will be interesting to see if Kavanaugh gets through. Thats the final for me after Omnibust and planned parenthood spending. I would rather spend 2 years with the Trump veto than vote for this RINO congress.

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    Why is anybody still using Google for searches? Use duckduckgo or something like that. It's probably still biased, but at least it's not GOOG.

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      Why has the NSA failed to cough up Bill Clinton's wife's allegedly lost emails?

      Feel safe in the USA when Bill's wife can skirt the NSA 100%?

      I will never forget 911 where somehow the Pentagon itself was hit by a civilian airplane full of civilians and only reason more damage was not done was because of the efforts USA citizens on board afforded the USA and the Pentagon.

      Let that sink in

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    I just tried a little experiment, I searched “Trump” with Duck Duck Go and got www.trump.com. That makes some sense. I did the same with Safari using google and got BBC, the Atlantic....

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    When I do a "google" search on my phone for FOX news, there are always two liberal outlets with stories about FOX that I have to scroll past to get to FOX...every time.

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    Axios isn't on that bias chart. Anyone have a good idea where they stand?

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    Uh, CNN and the rest of the corporate news media is not liberal news.. Liberal news outlets are the 'alternative' media.

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      Ignorant comment Canadian communist Hammerandsickletime, you get a very slanted view of US politics from up there in Canada where socialism is considered centrist.

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    The first ten results on news.google.com for Trump
    CNBC - 1
    CNN - 4

    Politico - 1
    HuffPost - 1
    WashPost - 1
    USAToday - 1
    CBS News - 1

    The first ten results on aljazeera.com for Trump
    (All by Al Jazeerah writers)
    Topics:

    John McCain - 2
    Trump-Iran - 1
    Trump-Turkey - 1

    Trump-China - 1
    Trump-PRC - 1
    Trump's Tough week - 1
    Palestinian Funding - 1
    Palestian Football chief banned - 1
    Venezuela - 1

    Of course, Al Jazeera has a more international focus than most US news agencies.

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    And this is what Libs do - manipulate everything in their favor, and then lie like hell about it when caught. We are surprised here, how?

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    Meh. The Liberal Media has a fixation with Trump, so they write a lot more about him. It's not Google with their thumb on the scale. Just more liberal BS from which to choose.
    Dear God, I am defending Google. *slits own wrists*

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    Do you think that might just because the organizations somewhat arbitrarily tagged as "leftist" appear to represent the oldest, most established media outlets with readerships in multiple media?

    I say "arbitrarily" because any scale that situates Time Magazine to the left of Mother Jones or characterizes Stars and Stripes as a "centrist" publication is a little bit wonky.

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    The Wall Street Journal's editorial pages support the Republican establishment. Their news pages are just as far left as the New York Times. Neither of them supports Trump.

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    It's easy to see for yourself. Just for fun, I went to Google search for the first time in years and typed in RNC. The second result was wikipedia which is he//a biased and the fourth result was an article from the huffpost bashing the RNC.

    I began seeing that pattern in their search results a long time ago and never went back. If you use Google, you are an idiot or gullible.

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    They’re just noticing this now? This has been a thing for going on 3 years.

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    Duck-duck-go!

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    Reckoning in RL incomming... so, duck? Maybe? Idk. Bubbles pop. It's just what they do. Mayby that's all they can do.

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    Why say "left-leaning"? Are you reluctant to call these media entities what they are?

    Why talk in terms of an algorithm as if it is some thing that can be manipulated, as if it were a non-biased thing to begin with? The algorithm is the instantiation of what google executives believe. It is their will in the form of computer instructions.

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    #SEME

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    Google's motto is "Don't Be Evil" to remind themselves to quite being evil all the damn time!! But they always are.

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    Social networks distribute information just as power company distributes electricity. They must be regulated as a public utility.

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    If ever there was a need for a special prosecutor into colusion and meddling with elections 🙄

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    We all know this, however, sheep still use it.

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    I Googled puppy dogs, kittens and unicorns, and i got back results for Hilly Beans, Pelosi and Fauxcahontas.

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    I've noticed this too. Google should be called out on their bias. Maybe laws are needed so the public has a better idea how they skew search results (more transparency)? Otherwise, many people assume that the results are "natural". It's essentially false-advertising.

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