Does Google lean to the left?

Posted on August 29, 2018

 

Yesterday saw US President Donald Trump in typically quarrelsome form on Twitter, and this time it was Google on the receiving end of his diatribes.

As is usually the case with Trump, his grammar is all over the place and he is capitalising certain words for emphasis, giving the impression that he is shouting and fuming. He also gives no evidence to back up his claims, but does he have a point? Is Google siding with left-wing and liberal news ahead of Conservative material?

One Twitter user has immediately pointed out that for the search term ‘fake news’, the right-wing Fox News was the provider of Google’s top story at the time of the tweet.

This immediately throws Trump’s claims into some doubt, but what about other popular search terms? Is Google ganging up on Trump, or is it all in his head? I decided to look at some likely search terms on Google News and see what it was prioritising.

Donald Trump

In a strangely circular situation, Trump’s complaints about Google’s algorithms are the top story on Google News (as of Tuesday afternoon).

The six sources Google is listing first here actually provide some substance to his claim. At least three of those sources (The Guardian, The Independent and The Huffington Post) have a definite liberal or left-of centre stance. ABC News also tends to favour the Democratic Party, and TechCrunch has no political leaning. The Washington Post is seen as having both a liberal and conservative bias depending on the reader, so there is no clear right-wing or conservative outlet being given any priority here.

John McCain

Former Republican Party Leader John McCain passed away on Saturday, leading the one-time presidential candidate to feature heavily in the news, not helped by Trump’s own seemingly grudging ‘tributes’ to him.

A Google News search for ‘John McCain’ shows more of a mixed bag of sources in the top six for the main story.

So again we have The Guardian in there, along with Trump’s public enemy number one CNN, but this is balanced out by appearances from the right-wing and conservative-leaning Sky News, Financial Times and Chicago Tribune. Snopes is a fact-checking and myth-busting site, so I would say there is a slight right-wing bias here.

PMQs

For various Engage Web clients, I tend to find myself looking into what has been discussed in Prime Minister’s Questions every Wednesday. #PMQs is always trending midweek, and there are always points raised that apply to business.

It’s also interesting, and often quite amusing, how differently two different media can report on the same debate. Here are the current top results, which surprisingly are from as far back as June 13th:

The BBC is forever being accused of favouring both the left and the right, so for argument’s sake let’s say it’s somewhere in the middle. The Daily Express is without doubt a right-wing populist media source that is in line with Trump’s own politics. Meanwhile, the Mirror tends to lean to the left and LabourList has an obvious political slant, but again it’s a fairly balanced set of sources.

Conclusion

Trump is talking rubbish. Google does a reasonable job of presenting us with a variety of news stories from across the political spectrum. Perhaps what he should understand is that his conduct and behaviour is so outrageous, it’s becoming very difficult for even the right-wing and conservative media to report on him in a positive way.

John Murray

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.

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