'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Monday, March 21, 2005

Google News Indexes Racists, Etc. 

So via LGF Watch via, god help me, Little Green Footballs, I learned that Google News includes the racist National Vanguard as one of its news sources. National Vanguard is a horrible site. Let's put it this way, it was described as an "unspeakably vile neo-Nazi white supremacist web site" on Little Green Footballs -- 'nuff said.

The Little Green Fascists are amusingly upset that their clubhouse isn't indexed on Google, leading to a constant stream of LGF posts of the Google News indexes Jihad Unspun but not LGF!? variety. What they don't seem to get is that Google News doesn't index news aggregators and doesn't index many blogs period. It especially doesn't index blogs composed predominantly of short-format posts -- what exactly is there to index? In other words, LGF isn't included by Google for the same reason that Atrios isn't.

Another thing that the LGFers don't seem to get is that the inclusion of the neo-Nazi site actually hurts the case they are trying to make. They say to Google, "Hey, why don't you include LGF?" Google says, "Because of the format of your content." They say, "Nuh-uh. You don't like the content of our content, you liberals." And they attempt to support this argument by posting about Google including a news source that is to Little Green Footballs' right and that is not a news aggregator and is not a short-format blog? Ummm... doesn't that indicate that the Google people aren't discriminating based on ideology but based on format, as they constantly explain?

I am a free speech absolutist and, to be honest, would rather have a Google News that is willing to index National Vanguard than one that is not, as long as it is also willing to index hard left news sources, which it evidently is. Google News is not itself an online newspaper; it is an engine for searching the internet within the domain of news stories -- and we all know the breadth of the range of viewpoints that spans the internet. When I search for news stories I want to get all valid matches to my search string for the same reason that I want to receive all valid matches when I search for web pages with Google's primary search engine.

However, given the naive impression that Google News is an online newspaper, an impression bolstered by its auto-generated front page that looks very much like the top page of, say, nytimes.com, and given that the Google corporation's only source of income, as far as I know, is advertising dollars, I wonder if Google News will ever feel pressure from its advertisers to limit the spectrum of opinion that it purveys to the spectrum presented by the corporate media. In other words I wonder if the Chomsky-Herman propaganda model will ever catch up with Google.

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