Google CEO Squirms as Jim Jordan Grills Him Over 2016 Latino Turnout Efforts
On Tuesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai struggled to respond to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)'s persistent questions about an email from Google's former head of multicultural marketing, Eliana Murillo, reporting that the company attempted to push out the Latino vote "in key states" during the 2016 election. Murillo's email, reported by Fox News's Tucker Carlson, essentially admitted that Google had given Hillary Clinton an in-kind donation during that key election.
"You said, 'I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products operate that way,'" Jordan began, quoting Pichai's testimony from minutes before. "Eliana Murillo is Google's head of multicultural marketing. Does Miss Murillo do good work?"
To this first, very simple question, Pichai began his squirming responses. "I'm not directly familiar" with Murillo's work, he said.
"You praised her work the day after the 2016 election," Jordan shot back. "In a four-page email she wrote about her work with the Latino vote, she said, 'Even Sundar gave our effort a shout-out.' Is she referring to you there?"
Pichai admitted Murillo was referring to him, but he suggested she was referring to a translation issue, not anything relating to the Latino vote.
The congressman went on to quote the email further. "She said this, 'We pushed to get out the Latino vote with our features.' A few lines down in her email she qualified that sentence, and she said: 'We pushed to get out the Latino vote with our features in key states.' And she specifically cites the states Florida and Nevada."
"Near the end of her email, in a similar sentence, she says 'we supported partners like Voto Latino to pay for rides to the polls in key states.'" Jordan quoted. Then he turned to the CEO, "Is it fair to say the "we" in both sentences, Mr. Pichai, refers to Google?"
The CEO dodged the question. "Congressman, we are very concerned over allegations like that. Our team looked into it..."
Jordan cut him off. "I'm not asking you that question. I'm asking, is it fair to say that the 'we' in both sentences refers to the company Google?"
"As Google, we wouldn't participate in any partisan efforts in any civic process, I don't think so," Pichai responded.
Jordan continued to press him on getting out the Latino vote. "They were getting that done by, according to Miss Marillo, your head of multicultural marketing, by altering your features or configuring your features in such a way and for paying for rides for people to get to the polls. Is that an accurate reading? Is that fair to say what those sentences are talking about?"
"I’m not aware of all the specifics, but we did look into it. We found no evidence that there were any activity like that from Google towards that organization," the CEO insisted.
"So she’s not telling the truth?" Jordan pressed.
"For sure, we didn’t find any supporting evidence of any such activity," Pichai responded.
The congressman again noted Murillo's email admitting that Google paid for rides to the polls and "configured their features in such a way as to get out the Latino vote."
Jordan even insisted, "Look, look, I actually think that’s all okay. I think that that’s just a good corporate citizen encouraging voter participation. ... I think so far those sentences are just fine. But then there’s three words at the end of each sentence that do cause me real concern."
With the three words "in key states," Jordan argued, "now suddenly it gets political. ... Now that makes everything different."
"So I’ve got really just one question for you. Why? Why did Google configure its features and pay for rides to the polls to get out the Latino vote only in key states?" the congressman asked.
"Congressman, necessarily we found no evidence to substantiate those claims," the CEO repeated.
Jordan directly asked whether Murillo was lying. He then asked, "What I’m asking is, why did you only do it in key states?"
"We didn’t do any such activity as Google on any of these key states," Pichai responded. "As Google, we don’t have goals around pushing out to get any particular segment, we don’t participate in partisan activities, we engage with both campaigns, we support and sponsor debates across both sides of the aisle and we provide users with information to get the election."
Jordan again turned to the email. "Your head of multi-cultural marketing said you were pushing to get out the Latino vote, paying for rides to the polls for the Latino vote, only in key states, and you’re saying that’s not accurate?"
Pichai agreed, "Yes, that’s right."
"So she just made it up out of thin air, ... wrote this email to your top executives, and it’s not true?" the congressman pressed. The CEO again dodged.
"I would say the two most populous states for Latinos would be California and Texas. Did you push to get out the Latino vote and pay for people to go to the polls in California and Texas?" Jordan asked.
"The company did not have any effort to push out votes for any particular demographic. That would be against our principles. We participate in the civic process in a non-partisan way," Pichai again insisted.
"I think it’s interesting that their head of multi-cultural marketing writes an email the day after the election where she talks about 71 percent of the Latino votes voted for Hillary but that wasn’t enough and she talks about paying for rides to the polls in key states for Latino votes to get out the Latino vote in key states and the head of the company says that’s not accurate," Jordan concluded.
As his time expired, the congressman asked if Murillo still works at the company, and Pichai responded, "It's my understanding she does."
Either Murillo was lying through her teeth, in which case she likely would have been fired, or Pichai himself is lying, failing to cover up clear political activity on Google's part favoring Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
Indeed, Dr. Robert Epstein, a Ph.D. psychologist who studies search engine manipulation, has uncovered Google bias toward Clinton that could explain her margin of victory in the popular vote in 2016.
Google has a great deal to answer for, and Pichai seems to know it. His squirming before Jordan's clear questions was rather telling.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.