Sen. Ted Cruz. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has said it won't accept the witness Google offered for a Wednesday subcommittee hearing on free speech online, according to multiple sources.

Why it matters: Facebook and Twitter will be represented at the hearing, chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), but Google may not be there to respond to expected criticism that it is biased against conservatives.

Details:

  • A source familiar with the matter said that Google had offered to send Max Pappas, a staffer focused on conservative outreach with a long career in right-wing politics, to the hearing, entitled "Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse." (His expected attendance was reported on Tuesday morning.)
  • But the committee had rejected him as a witness, according to the source and Will Dempster, the spokesperson for Sen. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), the top Democrat on the subcommittee hosting the hearing. Dempster said that while the committee's Republican majority rejected Pappas, she would have "welcomed" his testimony.
  • Facebook and Twitter are both sending witnesses to the hearing.

Pappas is himself a former Cruz staffer and before that held positions at different conservative groups.

What they're saying: "The committee negotiated with Google to send a more senior representative from Google comparable to the representatives that Facebook and Twitter committed to send," said a committee staffer. "Google was unable to provide someone in time so the subcommittee will be hosting a hearing with Google only in the coming weeks."

  • Both Facebook and Twitter's witnesses have "director" in their title. Pappas's LinkedIn says his job title changed this month from "Manager, External Outreach and Public Policy Partnerships" to "Acting Director, Political & Stakeholder Outreach."

A Google spokesperson said in a statement, "We are happy to testify and have offered the most qualified subject matter expert for the hearing. We stand ready to continue working with the Committee."

The big picture: Cruz and others have long alleged that major web platforms are biased against conservatives, with a regular focus on Google and its subsidiary YouTube.

  • Research and reporting has not proven an active, systemic effort on the part of the platforms to dampen the reach of conservative voices, despite the persistent allegations.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comment from Sen. Mazie Hirono's office.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 30,241,377 — Total deaths: 947,266— Total recoveries: 20,575,416Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 6,681,251 — Total deaths: 197,763 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 91,546,598Map.
  3. Politics: Trump vs. his own administration on virus response.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Anxious days for airline workers as mass layoffs loom

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, during a Sept. 9 protest outside the Capitol. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The clock is ticking for tens of thousands of anxious airline employees, who face mass reductions when the government's current payroll support program expires on Sept. 30.

Where it stands: Airline CEOs met Thursday with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who said President Trump would support an additional $25 billion from Congress to extend the current aid package through next March.

House Democrats ask DOJ watchdog to probe Durham's Trump-Russia investigation

Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Kamil Krzaczynsky/AFP via Getty Images

Four Democratic House committee chairs on Friday asked the Justice Department's inspector general to launch an "emergency investigation" into whether Attorney General Bill Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham, his appointee, are taking actions that could "improperly influence the upcoming presidential election."

Catch up quick: Last year, Barr tapped Durham to conduct a sweeping investigation into the origins of the FBI's 2016 Russia probe, after he and President Trump claimed that it was unjustified and a "hoax."