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Screenshot from video embedded on Breitbart.com

A video obtained by Breitbart of Google leaders lamenting the results of the 2016 election to employees at its first all-staff meeting after the vote is causing uproar from voices on the right.

Why it matters: The video adds fuel to the ongoing conservative narrative that Silicon Valley's progressive founders and corporate cultures cause their engineers to steer algorithms to be biased against conservative voices.

The video features Google executives telling employees that the outcome of the election was not what they preferred.

  • "I know that most people here are pretty upset and pretty sad about the election," Google co-founder Sergey Brin says. "Myself as an immigrant and a refugee, I certainly find this election deeply offensive and I know many of you do too."
  • CEO Sundar Pichai said that some employees had said they feared the outcome of the election. "There are people who are very afraid ... There is a lot of fear, so I think it's important to reach out and be aware of that fear."
  • Pichai and other executives also discussed the impact of the election on issues that affect employees, like immigration.

The timing of the video's release is notable. The video, shot shortly after the election in November 2016, has been leaked nearly two years later, at a time when conservative lawmakers are alleging that tech companies use their algorithms to steer traffic away from conservative websites, voices and lawmakers.

  • The concern from the right runs all the way up to the commander in chief, who tweeted several weeks ago that Google search results have been "RIGGED."
  • Trump's concerns prompted the Justice Department to get involved. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reportedly exploring an investigation of social media companies.
  • Conservative members of Congress have long pressured tech on this issue. The House Energy and Commerce Committee had Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testify last week about censorship. Lawmakers pummeled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with questions about censorship when he visited Capitol Hill last spring.
  • The leak also comes after Google raised the ire of Senate lawmakers by not providing a founder or CEO to testify at recent Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on election interference.

The footage was leaked to Breitbart, a right-wing website that's often viewed as a megaphone for the Trump White House. Google has in the past struggled with ways to keep conservative employees from feeling alienated by its progressive culture, a problem that often results in leaks.

Google says in a statement that "nothing was said at that meeting, or any other meeting, to suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products." To the contrary, the company argues, "Our products are built for everyone, and we design them with extraordinary care to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without regard to political viewpoint."

  • It is true that there has been no compelling evidence to suggest that Google, nor any other major tech platform, like Facebook or Twitter, designs its algorithms with a bias against conservative viewpoints.

Be smart: For years, Google has invested millions of dollars in creating a lobbying operation to win over the hearts of Republican lawmakers. Part of that push involves the tech firm pitching itself as unbiased and apolitical. This video, of Google's top executives emotionally discussing their opposition to Trump, makes that case harder to make.

The bigger picture: The video is an example of how tech companies, including Google, will always be on the defensive for past remarks and decisions showing political bias that can now resurface and be used as political ammunition.

“This video is the smoking gun. Google’s leadership is decidedly anti-Trump and there is no doubt that their company practices reflect that. We need hearings now. Google cannot continue to run and hide.”
— Brent Bozell, President of Media Research Center, a conservative think tank

Go deeper

Educators face fines, harassment over critical race theory

People talk before the start of a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Va. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Elementary school teachers, administrators and college professors are facing fines, physical threats, and fear of firing because of an organized push from the right to remove classroom discussions of systemic racism.

Why it matters: Moves to ban critical race theory are raising free speech concerns amid an absence of consistent parameters about what teachings are in or out of bounds.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

1 dead after pickup truck hits Pride spectators in Florida

Police investigate the scene where a pickup truck drove into a crowd of people at a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

A driver in a pickup truck hit spectators at a Pride festival in Wilton Manors, Florida, killing a man and leaving another person hospitalized Saturday, authorities said.

Details: Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters police had "apprehended the driver" and that the vehicle missed a parade car carrying Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) "by inches."

Updated 10 hours ago - Sports

Uganda Olympic team member tests positive for COVID in Tokyo

The Uganda National boxing team's Catherine Nanziri (L) and others arrive for check-in at Entebbe international airport in Wakiso, Uganda on Friday, ahead of their departure to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo: Badru Katumba/AFP via Getty Images

A Uganda Olympic team member tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan late Saturday, officials said.

Why it matters: Japan's government has faced criticism for vowing to host the Tokyo Games next month as coronavirus cases rise. The Ugandan team is the second to arrive in Japan after the Australian women's softball players, and this is the first COVID-19 infection detected among the Olympic athletes, Al Jazeera notes.

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