Republican leaders are very angry with Google. But if they took a few minutes to read about the plight of Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Jose Calderon they’d realize they’re firing at the wrong target.
The trouble started when web users noticed that searching for the California state Republican party produces results that list “Nazism” under the party’s ideologies. The term shows up alongside other descriptors in a summary box atop the search engine’s results page, Vice News reported Thursday.
Republican National Committee head Ronna McDaniel tweeted that the internet giant “owes conservatives answers” here, calling the search-box foible evidence “that conservative voices are… being suppressed” online. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who hopes to succeed Paul Ryan (R-WI) as Speaker of the House, told Vice it was “disgraceful” and characterized it as a willful effort by the search company that confirms everyone is biased against conservatives.
Tell it to Jose Calderon, guys.
The same auto-generated summary box atop the results page for the veteran NBA guard lists him as a billionaire. Calderon, who today makes $1.47 million a year primarily to watch from the bench as LeBron James leads the team on the floor, is caught up in the same automated screw-ups that are putting the word “Nazism” next to the CA GOP’s name.
Google’s summary boxes pull in information from a variety of sources that can be manipulated or misused by anyone with an internet browser. In Calderon’s case, as ESPN.com reported in mid-May, the search engine is pulling in the net-worth listing of one Jose Calderon Rojas, the Mexican heir to a $2.2 billion soft drink bottling fortune.
The NBA guard is Spanish, not Mexican, and worth several million dollars for his athletic ability, not a couple billion for being born lucky. His Cavs teammates don’t quite buy that explanation, though. When the bill comes at the end of team dinners, ESPN reported, his coworkers just tell them to “Give it to the billionaire.”
If the Republican Party is worried about appearing alongside Nazism, it might have an even harder time breaking that brand association than Calderon’s had convincing his teammates he’s not a billionaire.
McDaniel may be the official head of the RNC, but the party’s leader is President Donald Trump — a man whose politics and political appointees please everyone from open, proud Klansmen like David Duke, to sneakier white-grievance provocateurs like former campaign manager and White House strategist Steve Bannon, to the muddier modern class of online neo-Nazis who boosted his campaign with digital trolling, to the heavily armed blood-and-soil chanters who descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer.
Google can fix its search-box code all it wants. Meanwhile, the GOP will remain in lockstep with a president who built his movement on naked racial resentment and a promise to undo everything the nation’s first black president accomplished on behalf of minority groups.