Yes, Virginia, Google News Is Biased

December 16, 2021 Updated: December 18, 2021

Commentary

This Christmas season, Google can give us all an inestimable gift by curing the leftist bias in its “Google News” service.

Everyone knows Google’s search products are biased. In this column I offer some objective evidence that shows it.

Because of the nature of my job, I check Google News every morning except Saturday (the Jewish Sabbath). I did so on Christmas Day, 2020. Remember that President Donald Trump was still in office, the presidential election was over but the results remained controversial, and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot had not yet happened.

When opening my Google News tab, I expected to find headlines about how the adherents of the world’s largest religion, Christianity, were celebrating their most popular holiday. Google News produced nothing about that. The only headlines in the initial display box (pdf) were, in the following order:

  • “The Republican heroes and villains of Trump’s attempt to steal the election.” This headline was from The Guardian, Britain’s leading socialist organ.
  • “House Dems urge Trump to sign COVID relief bill.” The source was the liberal Los Angeles Times.
  • “Americans suffer at Christmas while Trump golfs and sows chaos.” The source was the partisan liberal outlet, CNN.
  • “Trump gives America chaos for Christmas”—from Jeff Bezos’s liberal Washington Post.
  • “Op-Ed: It’s never too late to become a Democrat”—more from the Los Angeles Times.

The bias was striking. So also was the insertion of favored editorials in what’s supposed to be a news aggregator. Even more striking was how out of place this divisive stuff was on Christmas Day.

Matters have not improved at Google News over the past year, as shown by my usual morning Google News check on Dec. 15, 2021.

Dec. 15 is officially Bill of Rights Day, and this year President Joe Biden, like his predecessors, duly proclaimed it as such. But you wouldn’t know it from the Google News front page. There was nothing about Bill of Rights Day. Instead, Google News listed items from sources hardly consonant with American constitutional history.

The first item came from the socialist Guardian. This was true to form. Google News features Guardian stories constantly. But in my years of using the service, I have never seen any Google News front page content from Britain’s more conservative counterpart, the highly regarded Telegraph—not ever.

The Dec. 15 front page listed several items from liberal broadcast media, such as ABC and CNN. (CNN, essentially an unofficial mouthpiece for the National Democratic Party, may be Google News’s most favored source.) By contrast, there were no results from the conservative broadcasters Newsmax or One America News Network. As far as I’ve seen in my years of using Google News, there never have been.

Among wire services, my Dec. 15 inquiry produced stories from Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Associated Press—liberal outfits all—but nothing from any conservative counterpart, such as CNSNews. I have never seen CNSNews on any Google News front page.

Among more traditional media, my Dec. 15 inquiry produced items from the liberal Washington Post, as it does virtually every day. But there was nothing from the Post’s conservative rival, the Washington Times. And there never is. Nor have I ever seen an item from the conservative Washington Free Beacon, and rarely, if at all, from the Washington Examiner.

The New York Times made its appearance on Dec. 15, as it does every day. But The Epoch Times did not, and almost never does. The only center-right source I see regularly on the Google News front page is Fox.

The stridently left-wing Daily Beast was absent on Dec. 15. That’s unusual, because the Daily Beast is one of Google News’s favorite outlets. Why it should be so favored is inexplicable for any conceivable reason other than bias. Conservative counterparts to the Beast, such as RedState, Breitbart, and Townhall, rarely, if ever, appear on the Google News front page.

If you’re specifically looking for conservative media, Google makes it difficult for you. Google News has a search line, which I frequently use. My results on Dec. 15 were typical. I entered “Washington …”, expecting to see links to Washington Times, Examiner, or Free Beacon. Nope. This is all that showed up:

  • Washington Football Team
  • Washington Post
  • Washington—Location
  • Washington—Topic
  • Washington Huskies football
  • Washington Capitals
  • Washington Wizards

I had to enter “Washington fr” to get the Free Beacon. I had to enter “Washington E” to get the Examiner. In other words, you have to know the precise names of those sources and go through special efforts to obtain anything from them.

Entering “Daily” in the search line was even more frustrating. It brought up the British Daily Mail (right), the Daily Beast (strongly left), the Daily News (strongly left), and the Daily Kos (hard left). It didn’t produce the Daily Wire.

So I entered “Daily W.” The Daily Wire was the sixth item down. I clicked on it—and still didn’t get the Daily Wire! Instead, Google News produced only unrelated articles and articles by other outlets, some of which mentioned the Daily Wire.

None of this will be surprising to most readers, but it shows in a concrete way how the prigs at Google censor what you read. To be sure, this is nothing new: The national literati have been skewing our political and social conversations leftwards as long as I remember. Google’s own Ngram enables you to prove this. I recently used it to document how much more frequently phrases such as “far right” and “extreme right” appear in print than their counterparts “far left” and “extreme left.”

May I suggest that this holiday season Google might show its public-spiritedness by correcting its bias?

Yes, I know—it won’t. And, unfortunately, people like me must keep using this defective product, if only to keep abreast of the latest twists in the Deep State party line. But it’s just as important to click on alternative news sources every day.

Pre-eminently: The Epoch Times.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Rob Natelson
Robert G. Natelson, a former constitutional law professor, is senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence at the Independence Institute in Denver.