During a 45-minute monologue on Fox Business Wednesday, President Donald Trump vented his concerns about tech companies like Twitter and Google, going so far as suggesting that he believes they are “trying to rig the election.”
Trump complained that Twitter was somehow preventing him from gaining more followers on the platform, including claiming that random people have told him they’re somehow unable to “join” him on Twitter. He made the same claim back in October (even though his follower growth was actually increasing at the time), and this spring, he reportedly voiced his frustration when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey visited the Oval Office. Dorsey tried to reassure the president that the followers he had lost were bots and spam accounts.
Trump is reportedly preoccupied by the fact former President Barack Obama has more followers on Twitter.
“It’s amazing I won the election, because you saw what happened yesterday with Google,” Trump said on Fox. “Google is totally biased to the [Democrats].”
Host Maria Bartiromo tried to clarify that they were talking about a Project Veritas video, released Monday, in which a “Google insider” allegedly made comments about avoiding a similar situation as what happened in 2016.
“They’re trying to rig the election! That’s what we should be looking at,” Trump insisted.
He went on to suggest “they should be sued” because of their alleged bias, suggesting that a Google executive expressed “hatred for the Republicans” this week.
Like all Project Veritas videos, the latest undercover video is heavily edited, exaggerates the seniority of the target, and distorts her words to try to fit a conservative conspiracy theory. Specifically, the video claims that Google is trying to affect the 2020 elections to “prevent” the next “Trump situation.” Even with the context left in the edit, it’s clear she is discussing foreign interference in the election.
The target of the video, Jen Gennai, responded to the video in a Medium post. “Project Veritas has edited the video to make it seem that I am a powerful executive who was confirming that Google is working to alter the 2020 election,” she wrote. “On both counts, this is absolute, unadulterated nonsense, of course.” She confirmed that she was discussing Google’s very public work to protect from future election interference.
As U.S. intelligence and special counsel Robert Mueller’s report have made clear, the Russian government interfered in the election to help Trump. The president has welcomed foreign interference in the 2020 election.
As Google’s “Head of Responsible Innovation,” Gennai explained that she doesn’t even work on any of the products or topics the undercover spy baited her into discussing in a casual conversation held under false pretenses. “I was having a casual chat with someone at a restaurant and used some imprecise language. Project Veritas got me. Well done.”
The Project Veritas video dropped a day before Maggie Stanphill, Google’s director of user experience, testified Tuesday to the Senate Commerce subcommittee on technology. Republicans on the committee grilled her about whether Google uses “persuasive technology” to try to influence users’ political views. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), in particular, accused Google of censoring conservatives, citing the Project Veritas report. “Do you think it’s Google’s job to ‘prevent the next Trump situation’?” he asked.
Stanphill rejected the various claims from the report. “We build for everyone, including every single religious belief, every single demographic, every single region, and certainly every political affiliation,” she responded. Cruz refused to believe the company was unbiased.
Simultaneous with Trump’s rant on Fox Business Wednesday morning, Fox News was interviewing Dennis Prager, founder of the site PragerU. Prager has sued Google, claiming that it has censored its conservative videos on YouTube. Last year, a federal judge tossed out a nearly identical PragerU suit, noting that as a private company, YouTube can make its own decisions about how to regulate content on its site. Prager insisted that all the major tech platforms simply hate conservative content, taking no responsibility for the hateful people and views that have been featured in PragerU videos, including various racist and anti-LGBTQ messages.
What appears to be happening is that some conservatives are massively distorting tech companies’ attempts to protect against foreign election interference or restrict the distribution of hateful views, stirring up conspiracy theories that the companies are demonstrating blanket bias against conservatives. The president then repeats these totally unfounded accusations on national television as if they are fact. They are not.