On the same day he repeatedly touted online post-debate polls so bogus that Fox News executives wrote a memo to staff reminding them they “do not meet our editorial standards,” Donald Trump began his rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin by pushing a discredited conspiracy theory about Google.
After mentioning an Independent Journal Review by Google Consumer Surveys poll showing him leading Clinton nationally by two points, Trump said, “and that’s despite the fact that Google search engine was suppressing the bad news about Hillary Clinton.”
Trump is referring to a viral SourceFed video posted in June that raises questions about Google’s autocomplete function. The video shows a user entering search terms like, “Hillary Clinton cri,” but not being prompted to much-searched phrases like “Hillary Clinton criminal.”
Google’s alleged suppression of those results stands in contrast to autocomplete results from like Bing or Yahoo, leading SourceFed to conclude that Google is skewing its search results in a manner favorable to Clinton.
The big problem with that theory is the fact that Google isn’t actually skewing the results for Hillary after all. After the SourceFed video went viral, a Google spokeswoman explained that their “ autocomplete algorithm will not show a predicted query that is offensive or disparaging when displayed in conjunction with a person’s name,” according to a CNN report. “Google autocomplete does not favor any candidate or cause. Claims to the contrary simply misunderstand how autocomplete works.”
For the same reason that a search for “Hillary Clinton cri” doesn’t return an autocomplete result for “Hillary Clinton criminal,” a search for “Donald Trump law” doesn’t return results for “Donald Trump lawsuits.”
Despite numerous debunks, the SourceFed story is back in the news. As the New York Times explains, “ this month, Sputnik News, a website run by the Russian government-controlled news agency Rossiya Segodnya, resurrected the study, prompting more headlines from Breitbart, the website once led by Stephen K. Bannon, the chief executive of Mr. Trump’s campaign.”
Yesterday, Trump used the discredited Google conspiracy theory to bolster his narrative that the system is rigged against him. Is he aware that it’s bogus? Even if he is, his campaign has a long history of lying about many things both significant and relatively inconsequential.
After his rally concluded, Trump continued to cite faulty online polls showing he won the first presidential debate during an appearance on The O’Reilly Factor, even though Bill O’Reilly himself followed the advice of his bosses and dismissed them as “not scientific.”