The Republican Party and Trump campaign are mad that Google won't let politicians microtarget or lie in their ads.
The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Republican National Committee (RNC), and Trump 2020 reelection campaign joined forces on Tuesday to accuse Google of anti-conservative bias, based on the company's recent decision to change its political ad policies.
Both the NRCC and NRSC have in the past received large donations from Google's political action committee.
In a joint statement, the four entities alleged that "Google’s latest arbitrary rule changes are a blatant attempt to suppress voter information, knowledge, and engagement in the 2020 election."
They reasoned that because they had built such successful operations, any limits must be designed specifically to hurt them.
"There can be no denying that President Trump and his campaign have built the greatest digital operation in all of politics, and that Google’s decision will disproportionately impact both the Trump operation and all of the Republican candidates and organizations that derive strength from it," they argued. "What’s more, given the growing and documented cases of anti-conservative bias in Silicon Valley, we are highly skeptical that such a ban would be applied equally to conservative and liberal organizations."
This largely debunked charge of conservative bias by Google and other online giants has been a frequent Republican talking point. Trump himself alleged in August — without evidence — that Google had illegally "suppressed negative stories on Hillary Clinton, and boosted negative stories on Donald Trump."
The backlash stems from Google's announcement last week that it would no longer let political advertisers make "a false claim" and would limit "election ads audience targeting to the following general categories: age, gender, and general location (postal code level)."
Strategists on both sides fear this will undermine their ability to target their 2020 messages.
After the news was announced, Trump's reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale claimed the move proved "Political elites & Big Tech want to rig elections."
But if Google really wants to rig the election to defeat conservatives, they have a funny way of showing it. In March, Google's political action committee sent $15,000 donations to both the NRCC and NRSC (the same amount the PAC sent to their Democratic counterparts).
Likewise, in the 2018 campaign, each group got $30,000 donations.
Neither the NRCC or NRSC immediately responded to inquiries about the donations and their claims of anti-conservative bias.
According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, overall giving from Google's PAC in 2018 slightly favored Republican candidates over Democrats (50% to 49%) and has notably favored Republicans so far this year (54% to 46%).
A Google spokesperson did not immediate respond to questions about bias and the company's political giving.
In a statement to CNBC on Tuesday, the company said, "We know that political campaign strategists on both sides of the aisle have raised concerns about how our changes may alter their targeting strategies, but we believe the balance we have struck — allowing political ads to remain on our platforms while limiting narrow targeting that can reduce the visibility of ads and trust in electoral processes — is the right one."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.