Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a contender for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination, appeared on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” Monday to discuss a personal tale of Google’s bias against her and her campaign.
Gabbard, a combat veteran who served in Kuwait and Iraq, finds herself in a battle against a more powerful opponent than she’s ever faced before.
But she seems neither anxious nor unprepared for the conflict.
Gabbard’s complaint against the technology giant began after her appearance in the first Democratic debates in June, when the congresswoman’s name was going viral as the most searched on Google.
Normally, that would have been the best time for a campaign to purchase ads and promote content to take advantage of the increased curiosity surrounding Gabbard’s campaign.
But rather than being able to take advantage of that crucial opportunity, Google, for a yet-to-be unexplained reason, had disabled Gabbard’s ability to advertise, rendering her campaign paralyzed and unable to respond to what was happening online.
Gabbard immediately responded. And she did so with fire and gusto.
“Google’s discriminatory actions against my campaign are reflective of how dangerous their complete dominance over internet search is, and how the increasing dominance of big tech companies over our public discourse threatens our core American values,” she told The New York Times. “This is a threat to free speech, fair elections and to our democracy, and I intend to fight back on behalf of all Americans.”
The congresswoman filed a $50 million lawsuit against Google.
She also released a statement in which she went scorched earth on the search engine giant and its Big Tech comrades, calling them “a clear and present danger to our democracy.”
On Monday, Gabbard released a video in which she said those companies are a “direct threat to our democracy.”
In the video, she pointed out that Google and other tech giants “have banned voices, who, while controversial and maybe even distasteful, have not incited violence or threatened others.”
That sounds a lot like what conservatives have been saying for the past two years.
And Tucker Carlson took notice.
The Fox News host invited Gabbard on his show to discuss the recent events and to hear her opinion on the dangers of Google and Big Tech.
I’m taking action because the unchecked power of Big Tech companies over our public discourse is a danger to our core American values of free speech and fair elections. This isn’t about me—I’m fighting on behalf of all Americans & our freedoms. Join me –>https://t.co/Ei3Ws5H257 pic.twitter.com/oz4aBqDxfi
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) July 30, 2019
Carlson led off the segment arguing that Google isn’t just against conservatives, but “is hostile to anyone who challenges the status quo since Google is the chief beneficiary of the status quo.”
In response to why she is suing Google, Gabbard answered, “Here’s the bottom line. This is really about the unchecked power that these big tech monopolies have over our public discourse and how this is a real threat to our freedom of speech and to our fair elections.”
“If Google can do this to me,” she said, “as a sitting member of Congress running for the highest office in the land, then that means they can do this to any candidate running for any office anywhere in this country.”
Testifying before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, Roger Epstein, a senior research psychologist with the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology, agreed with Gabbard’s argument. When asked how many votes Google had delivered to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, Epstein’s answer was staggering.
“The range is between 2.6 and 10.4 million votes, depending on how aggressive they were in using the techniques that I’ve been studying, such as the search engine manipulation effect, the search suggestion effect, the answer bot effect, and a number of others,” he said. “They control these, and no one can counteract them. These are not competitive. These are tools that they have at their disposal exclusively.”
Gabbard knows personally that such a risk is unacceptable regardless of where you are on the political spectrum.
“That’s why it’s so important, whether you are a progressive or conservative, whether you consider yourself on the left or the right, we all have to stand united to protect our freedom of speech,” Gabbard told Carlson.
In a telling moment during the interview, Carlson pushed Gabbard about why Big Tech bias doesn’t seem to be a significant issue with other presidential hopefuls.
“Why are you the only candidate who is saying this?” Carlson asked.
Gabbard laughed and replied, “I can’t explain that, Tucker.”
“Google, Facebook, Twitter — these are big tech monopolies that have this unchecked power to influence our public discourse, to influence what kind of information people are seeing,” she said.
Gabbard told Carlson that Google’s power makes it necessary for Congress to act.
“Google is controlling, when you type into that Google search box, what pops up,” she said. “It’s important that Congress take action because right now this is unchecked. They’ve got their secret algorithms. They can control the information that they see. They can control what pops up in our Facebook feeds. And they can censor voices that they disagree with.”
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