Steve Scalise, as partisan a Republican as you’re likely to find in Washington, would surely never contradict the stated but unsupported suspicion by many of his colleagues that online search engines such as Google introduce liberal political bias into their results.
But Scalise didn’t have to challenge that assertion of bias. This week, an outspoken Democrat did it for him.
During a hearing in which Google chief executive Sundar Pichai patiently explained to House Judiciary Committee members that unflattering search results are the product of apolitical algorithms, not politics, California Democrat Ted Lieu invoked the majority whip from Jefferson Parish to help prove his point.
Lieu shared the results of a recent Google News search on Scalise’s name and noted that the top four results were generally positive stories, most about Scalise’s new book, “Back in the Game,” which recounts his near-fatal 2017 shooting and remarkable recovery.
He then swapped out Scalise for King, and read off a real-time list of damning headlines about Iowa U.S. Rep. Steve King, who’s been widely condemned for making disparaging comments about immigrants, including referring to Mexicans “dirt.”
The lesson, Lieu said, amounted to something of a cyber-age golden rule.
"If you want positive search results, do positive things,” he said. “If you don't want negative search results, don't do negative things."