Key senators demand to know: Did Google manipulate get-out-vote messages?

Johnson, Cruz and Lee send letter to Google chief after monitoring project claims irregularities in final days of election.

Published: November 5, 2020 7:37pm

Updated: November 5, 2020 7:53pm

A powerful Senate committee chairman and two GOP colleagues sent a letter Thursday to Google's top executive demanding to know if the digital giant manipulated pre-election get-out-the-vote messages on its search products to benefit liberals.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, wrote Google LLC CEO Sundar Pichai that an academic monitoring project claimed to capture evidence that Google only sent out voter reminder messages to liberals and not conservatives in the final days of the election.

Their letter quoted Dr. Robert Epstein, the researcher running a Google monitoring project, as saying that his participants reported that between Oct. 26 and Oct. 29 "only our liberal field agents received vote reminders on Google's home page. Conservatives did not receive even a single vote reminder."

The senators said Epstein's findings appeared to conflict with recent testimony Pichai gave to Congress stating that "Google does not modify any products, including Search, to promote a particular political viewpoint...[we] will not do so for the upcoming 2020 presidential election.”

"Based on Dr. Epstein’s response, it would appear your assertion that 'We won’t do any work, you know, to politically tilt anything one way or the other' is not true," the senators wrote, asking for a reply from the Google boss within a week.

"We will be asking Dr. Epstein to provide Congress with the evidence of Google’s politically biased activities his monitoring collected during this election cycle. We are writing to provide you another opportunity to conduct a thorough review with your management team to determine the veracity of your previous responses to congressional inquiry regarding this issue, and correct your answers if necessary," they added.

You can read the letter here.

A spokesperson for Google did not immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday evening.

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