On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pressed Maggie Stanphill, director of Google user experience, on the Project Veritas report on “Machine Learning Fairness” and efforts to prevent “the next Trump situation.” Stanphill could not name a single executive at the company who voted for Donald Trump in 2016.
Cruz quoted an anonymous whistleblower who spoke with Project Veritas about anti-Trump bias at the company. According to the whistleblower, Google “is bent on never letting somebody like Donald Trump come to power again.”
“Do you think it’s Google’s job to make sure nobody like Donald Trump comes to power again?” Cruz asked Stanphill.
“No sir, I don’t think that is Google’s job,” she replied. “And we build for everyone, including every single religious belief, every single demographic, every single region, certainly every political affiliation.”
“Well, I have to say that certainly does not appear to be the case,” Cruz replied. Then he asked a central question: “Of the senior executives at Google, do you know a single one who voted for Donald Trump?”
“Thank you senator,” Stanphill replied. “I’m a user experience director and I work on Google digital wellbeing. And I can tell you we have diverse views…”
“Do you know of anyone who voted for Trump?” Cruz pointedly asked.
“I definitely know of people who voted for Trump,” she said.
“Of the senior executives at Google?” he pressed.
She dodged: “I don’t talk politics with my workmates.”
“Is that a no? … Do you know of any senior executives, even a single senior executive at the company that voted for Donald Trump?”
“As the digital wellbeing expert, I don’t think this is in my purview,” she began.
“So you don’t know then? That’s all right, you don’t have to know,” Cruz admitted.
“I definitely don’t know,” Stanphill conceded.
Cruz turned to public records. “The public records show that in 2016, Google employees gave to the Hillary Clinton campaign 1.315 million dollars. That’s a lot of money. Care to venture how much they gave to the Trump campaign?” he asked. She would not.
“The nice thing is it’s a round number: Zero dollars and zero cents. Not a penny, according to the public reports,” Cruz explained.
Stanphill continued to stonewall on Cruz’s other questions regarding the Project Veritas report, admitting she did not know about one internal document and saying, “I can’t comment on search algorithms or recommendations.”
Cruz also mentioned one document that “ends with ‘people (like us) are programmed.’ Does Google view its job as programming people with search results?”
“I can’t speak for the whole entire company but I can tell you that we make sure that we put our users first in our design,” the witness said.
Despite the witness’s stonewalling, Cruz’s questions succeeded in pointing to the troubling Project Veritas report.
That report, published Monday, was far from the first to suggest deep anti-Trump bias at Google. A Google executive bragged about efforts to boost Latino turnout “in key states” in 2016, expecting that voting bloc to pull for Hillary Clinton. As Cruz noted, employees at Google and other tech companies heavily favor Democrats in political contributions. A Google manager also blamed Trump’s victory on “fake news” and “hate speech.” In 2017, Google employees discussed tweaking the search engine to frustrate Trump’s travel ban.
Whatever the truth of the Project Veritas report, it seems to confirm a long train of incidents showing Google’s bias. Cruz did not get the answers he was looking for, but he’s not likely to give up anytime soon.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.