Sens. Lee, Hawley and Cruz BASH Google’s Anti-Conservative Bias at Antitrust Hearing

September 15th, 2020 5:40 PM

Google has long tried to hide its anti-conservative bias, but today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) were not having it. 

Big Tech representatives faced off with the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights on Tuesday. The hearing was titled “Stacking the Tech: Has Google harmed competition in online advertising?” It featured Google’s President of Global Partnerships and Corporate Development Don Harrison getting roasted by multiple conservative leaders for how Google not only appears to have a monopoly, but weaponizes its status as a monopoly to punish conservatives.

Lee acknowledged that the hearing was not primarily about anti-conservative bias but rather “the online advertising market and how competition works or should work and how it might not be operating as well as it could in that space.” However, he did acknowledge that the bias against conservatives does certainly impact antitrust issues. 

Lee also said that he was “concerned about anti-conservative bias at Google,” particularly upon learning that “Google reportedly had banned the conservative website The Federalist from monetizing its content through Google ads.” 

“The Federalist had comment boards that had commentary in it, some of which our systems made clear was racist commentary,” claimed Harrison, “and we’ve been clear in our policies that our ads can’t show up next to that kind of commentary.”

Harrison’s answer prompted even more questions, however, this time from Sen. Hawley. He contended that the comments in question were “third-party content, and they [The Federalist] just didn’t moderate it at all, which under Section 230 they are perfectly entitled to do, but you’re saying now that in order to have access to your, arguably, monopoly ad platform, they have to engage in content moderation and they have to do it, apparently, according to your standards. Is that accurate?

Google, according to Harrison, gave The Federalist three choices: The website could “choose not to show ads,” “to moderate, or they could choose to put their commentary behind a wall and not show advertisements against that.” However, two of these choices would have required The Federalist to restrict comments in some way, and the other option simply did not allow the outlet to monetize the website. 

Cruz was not buying Google’s defenses that there are viable competitors, used a similar tactic to rake the platform over the coals: “If Google isn’t dominant, why does it have the power to demand of a media publisher it disagrees with that it take down the comments site and why does it expect immediate obedience?”

Attorney General William Barr is planning to bring an antitrust case against Google, potentially as early as this month. 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact the FCC at 1-888-225-5322 and/or via the MRC’s FCC contact form to give your take on the petition filed by the Department of Commerce regarding Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on “hate speech” and equal footing for conservatives.