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As Long as We Remember...

March 9, 2012

The Power of Google in “Decision 2012”

Steven R. Berryman

Superman was replaced by “Apathetic Man” in a recent Frederick News-Post cartoon; in it he tried to budge a stereotypical American voter from his Lazy Boy recliner to get him activated.


The un-budgable American man was depicted as fat and happy, but oblivious, clutching a beer while being willfully spoon-fed by his flat screen TV.


Will this man come out to vote for your next president in November? If he does, just how much of his final opinion will be formed by a heavily biased media, more Internet-centric than ever?


The antics of the search-engine-cum-kingmaker Google may hold a key to planned dirty tricks by the incumbent in the White House.


“Google search” back to a newsy event shortly following the coronation of our current president, Barack Obama, revealed that one of the very first guests invited to the White House was the CEO from Google. The terms and reason for the visit were never released, although the "thank you” for prior campaign support was implicit.


This visit was also to codify a relationship that was intended to be future driven, with Google a direct participant in the first term that was essentially a continuance of the Obama 2008 campaign. Additionally, links between Google and the Secret Service and the National Security Agency, etc, surely were forged.


Political enemies could be easily self-revealed; enemies of the state could be defined by the Internet itself.


Shortly thereafter Oprah Winfrey visited Camp David for several days to meet with our president; that event was never made public.


During an Internet search, key words are entered into a search engine in a specific order; and, in theory, the result is based upon a fair algorithm that allows for most recent information available on said subject, and in the order of previous inquiries as measured by search engine (Google) information stored in databases.


In theory.


Results in practice can be easily manipulated by an overriding program that forces certain results to the top of the page of searches. A classic result was the final push for Obamacare. It was heavily reported then that favorable websites to the president’s plan were “planted” at the top of search page results for anything healthcare oriented.


So, I took a quick look at some GOP primary candidates’ search results – looking at just their names – and then compared what surfaced when entering the president’s name with the same terms:


Search term [ Mitt Romney ] – In a box at the very top your will find ads. This is a typical practice. I skipped over these to see the real search results. In this case, Mitt’s campaign website came up.


The first real search result was under a “News for Mitt Romney” banner: Mitt Romney's muddled march to the GOP nomination.


In it, for their The Washington Post column, Chris Cilliza and Aaron Blake said: “His path to Tampa in the aftermath of Super Tuesday, however, seems virtually certain to be marked not by a triumphant coronation but rather by a decidedly unglamorous process of delegate accumulation that will almost certainly force him to lose a series of battles in order to ultimately win the nomination war.”


Pretty negative stuff, disrespecting his obvious front-runner status and accumulated momentum.


Then I looked up a search for [ Newt Gingrich ] – Again, I skipped over paid ads to find this offered: “Newt Gingrich’s wives!” This was a fascinating discovery; perhaps this item was courtesy of a Romney payout to Google to discredit Newt, or was this campaign Obama 2012 helping out Mitt because they knew he’s be easier to beat with all of his negatives?


In our survey, the first real content of the search was • Newt Gingrich has canceled his Kansas stops.


The above content from The Wichita Eagle provided: “The day after an inconclusive Super Tuesday, it was hard to tell whether Wichita’s hopes of being the center of Republican attention were gone with the wind.


“Sunset fell Wednesday with Newt Gingrich having left Kansas at the altar to court two southern belles and the frontrunner in the race, Mitt Romney, just not ready for a commitment.”


This one was quite uncomplimentary and could have been titled: “Newt the quitter.”


I searched [ Rick Santorum ] only to find: Rick Santorum for President | Republican Presidential Candidate, which was his official campaign site. Based upon hits and frequency, this should have been the norm for all name searches.


Former Pennsylvania Senator Santorum got some help here; somebody wanted to promote him as “spoiler.”


Note that this followed a generic table of results by state, in which Senator Santorum only won Alaska.


On to [ Ron Paul ] – (note that the fourth “auto-complete” result came up “Ron Paul racist”!) Methinks that somebody is quite afraid of Ron Paul.) After the expected ad bloc, the first real search result was: CNN had a piece called Paul still winless after Super Tuesday.


“Tuesday night was super to some degree for every Republican presidential candidate except Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Supporters crossed their fingers that Paul would get his first win in North Dakota, only to lose to former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. But Paul said he doesn't see Tuesday's outcome as definitive.”


It seems that Texas Congressman Paul is diminished by the impact of Rick Santorum, or so the story goes.


Then I looked for results of our Commander-in-Chief [ Barack Obama ] in a fresh Google search field. The auto complete suggests items most favorable! Your first four choices are prompted; his actual name, followed by a link to his Twitter account, followed by Obama’s personal web site, followed by a link to an elementary school named in his honor.


After the ads, the Obama official campaign web site came up numero uno. Can’t fall in line any better than that. Barack Obama - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia was the first original entry. The entry was entirely complementary but blathering; sure to scare off the casual reader with hyperbole.


The above was closely followed up by more administration happy talk in the entry President Barack Obama | The White House which is simply the propaganda organ for the prez, presumably written by staff in the Old Executive Office Building.


My point is that when the average apathetic American finally decides to do some research to find out just who is governing their economy and paychecks – maybe during a week in late October – the superficial information, planted carefully and systematically on the Internet, in part by cooperative search-engines, could dominate that crucial final decision.


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