According to internal emails obtained by Breitbart News a senior software engineer at Google that is responsible for a key feature of Google’s search engine labeled Tennessee Senate candidate Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) a “violent thug” and a “terrorist,” adding that Google should not “negotiate” with her whatsoever. The same employee defended the outright censorship of Blackburn’s campaign ads on social media.
In an internal email discussion beginning on June 19th of 2018, the topic of discussion was Rep. Blackburn’s Fox News op-ed of the same month, that urged Silicon Valley companies to address bias against conservatives on their platforms.
Blackburn has been an outspoken critic of tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter during her time in Congress. Blackburn has been the target of social media censorship with Twitter censoring one of her videos on their platform in the fall of 2017, where she proudly defended her pro-life record. In the censored campaign ad, Blackburn said that she “stopped the sale of body parts.”
The op-ed was less than well received behind the walls of Silicon Valley power. One Google employee in particular, a site reliability engineer, called Blackburn’s piece “hilarious” and said that Republicans are starting to become “tribalists focused on stirring up outrage to maintain power.”
A senior software engineer at Google, Blake Lemoine, had even more brutal things to say about Blackburn’s op-ed, saying the public is being “lied to” by Blackburn, and even accused the Tennessee representative of “causing the deaths of people she claimed to protect” – something he attributed to her contributions on the anti-trafficking bills SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act).
“We certainly shouldn’t acquiesce to the theatrical demands of a legislator who makes political hay by intentionally reducing the safety of the people who she claims to protect,” said Lemoine. “I’m not big on negotiation with terrorists.”
When a separate Google employee objected to Lemoine’s use of the word “terrorist,” Lemoine responded that he’d be “willing to go with ‘thug’ as a compromise.”
“Would you be more okay with characterizing it as not being big on acceding to the demands of violent thugs?” asked Lemoine.
“This is a woman who passed a bill that killed people and is trying to use her passage of that bill to intimidate people. It’s clear to me that “do what I say or I’ll pass more bills like this one” is the implicit message.”
Lemoine is a technical lead on Google’s search feed, formerly known as Google Now. One of Google’s more distinctive features is that it will send information to users proactively by using personal data that predicts what information users want before they ever search for it.
Lemoine’s LinkedIn states that he also works on “research pertaining to fairness and bias in machine learning,” which makes his own biased comments that much more relevant.
Lemoine has also indicated that he supports censorship on social media. Lemoine defended Twitter’s decision to temporarily censor one of Rep. Blackburn’s pro-life campaign ads on the social media platform, arguing that it being taken down was not censorship: “Taking down libel is not censorship,” said Lemoine.
He continued, “I think that believing that Twitter too it down because it was a lie is more reasonable than believing they took it down because she was a Republican. Especially considering how the legislation that she is touting in her article was sold through lies that she told.”
“In summary: she’s a lying liar who lies and Twitter treats her like one.”
Lemoine caveated himself by saying “not all Republican ads are lies,” but one thing Lemoine never did clarify is whether his own bias affects what he considers “lies” and whether that same bias affects decisions that he makes in his role overseeing a key element of Google search.
When Breitbart News reached out for a comment from Google, a spokeswoman directed them to an open letter to employees written by CEO Sundar Pichai that was reported in the press last month after Breitbart’s release of the Google tape. In the letter to employees, Pichai said, “We do not bias our products to favor any political agenda. The trust our users place in us is our greatest asset and we must always protect it.”
Abbi Sigler, Marsha Blackburn’s campaign spokesperson, provided the following statement: “These emails are despicable. Marsha Blackburn is a mother, a grandmother, a friend, a dedicated public servant, a pro-life champion, an ally for veterans, and an advocate for lowering our taxes and cutting regulation. To call her a terrorist is offensive and degrading. These emails are indicative of the bias conservative women in the political arena face every day. Liberals do not want them to have a voice in the public arena, and too many social media employees carry their bias to work with them.”
Independent research – acknowledged even by the anti-Trump Washington Post – found that Google search results tended to favor Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Before the 2016 election, research conducted also found that if Google was deliberately skewing its search results to favor one particular candidate over another, it also had the ability to shirt the votes of undecided voters by margins of 20% or more.
According to lead researcher Dr. Robert Epstein, Google has the potential to manipulate its search results while leaving no paper trail, since there is currently no system of monitoring or oversight to detect bias in the platform’s hyperpersonalized search functions.
Other tech platforms are affecting elections in more obvious ways. In the past two years, major figures in the populist, conservative, and pro-Trump movements have been banned from platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and both the Apple app markets and Google, severely hampering their ability to digitally mobilize supporters ahead of the crucial midterm elections next month.
Several conservatives have also been kicked off crowdfunding and payment processing platforms which cripples their ability to fundraise for any campaigns or causes. Despite this happening, Democrats continue to call the tech censorship as a “conspiracy theory.”
In August, President Trump -in a pair of tweets- spoke out on Google search results being skewed, calling the search engine “RIGGED.”
“Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of….”
Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
“….results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!”
….results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 28, 2018
Rep. Marsha Blackburn is running in a tight two-way race in Tennessee against her Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen. The smallest bias on the part of tech giants like Google could easily tilt the race against Blackburn – unless her voter turn out in high enough numbers to where the bias wouldn’t have a negative effect. Blackburn continues to be a vocal critic of Silicon Valley’s continued censorship of conservatives and in June came out in favor of a new regulation that would protect consumers on social media platforms.
If the crowd yesterday in Tennessee is any sign of what the polls will look like in November, Blackburn has a good chance of beating the bias from Big Tech.
Brad Parscale (@parscale) posted a photo of the crowd at Monday’s rally in Johnson City, Tennessee, “Big crowds. Nearly 7k inside, nearly 2k in overflow and thousands outside. Estimating 20,000 in attendance. Big numbers!
@MarshaBlackburn has a great chance of winning in November.”
Big crowds. Nearly 7k inside, nearly 2k in overflow and thousands outside. Estimating 20,000 in attendance. Big numbers! @MarshaBlackburn has a great chance of winning in November. pic.twitter.com/h1wPclPfAe
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) October 2, 2018
President Donald Trump also posted a short video clip on is Twitter feed of the immense turn out on Monday, “WOW – THANK YOU TENNESSEE!”
WOW – THANK YOU TENNESSEE! pic.twitter.com/38UUDqfIz5
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2018
President Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) also tweeted on Monday about Google’s censorship of Blackburn stating, “Remember these are the people that decide what information you get to see on a daily basis!!! It’s getting old! LEAKED EMAILS: Senior Google Search Engineer Advocates for Censorship of ‘Terrorist’ Marsha Blackburn | Breitbart https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/10/01/exclusive-senior-google-search-engineer-called-marsha-blackburn-terrorist-thug/ … via
Remember these are the people that decide what information you get to see on a daily basis!!! It’s getting old!
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 1, 2018
Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) weighed in on the Google censorship of Blackburn and pointed out in a tweet on Monday that the representative stands up for “our most vulnerable-the #unborn.”
@MarshaBlackburn is a bold conservative leader who stands up for our most vulnerable—the #unborn. Shame on Silicon Valley elites for calling her a “terrorist” & a “thug.” Their behavior again raises questions about whether their platforms can be trusted. https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/10/01/exclusive-senior-google-search-engineer-called-marsha-blackburn-terrorist-thug/ …”
.@MarshaBlackburn is a bold conservative leader who stands up for our most vulnerable—the #unborn. Shame on Silicon Valley elites for calling her a “terrorist” & a “thug.” Their behavior again raises questions about whether their platforms can be trusted. https://t.co/x3HAhjo6dg
— Rep. Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) October 1, 2018
The rally in Johnson City, Tennessee, can be viewed in its entirety here:
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