A video recorded by Google shortly after the 2016 presidential election reveals an atmosphere of panic and dismay amongst the tech giant’s leadership, coupled with a determination to thwart both the Trump agenda and the broader populist movement emerging around the globe.
By – Allum Bokhari
The video is a full recording of Google’s first all-hands meeting following the 2016 election (these weekly meetings are known inside the company as “TGIF” or “Thank God It’s Friday” meetings). Sent to Breitbart News by an anonymous source, it features co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, VPs Kent Walker and Eileen Naughton, CFO Ruth Porat, and CEO Sundar Pichai. It can be watched in full above. It can and should be watched in full above in order to get the full context of the meeting and the statements made.
It was reported earlier this week that Google tried to boost turnout among the Latino population to help Hillary Clinton, only to be dismayed as the usually solid Democratic voting bloc switched to the GOP in record numbers. This video shows a similar level of dismay among Google’s most high-profile figures.
These individuals, who preside over a company with unrivaled influence over the flow of information, can be seen disparaging the motivations of Trump voters and plotting ways to use their vast resources to thwart the Trump agenda.
Co-founder Sergey Brin can be heard comparing Trump supporters to fascists and extremists. Brin argues that like other extremists, Trump voters were motivated by “boredom,” which he says in the past led to fascism and communism.
The Google co-founder then asks his company to consider what it can do to ensure a “better quality of governance and decision-making.”
VP for Global Affairs Kent Walker argues that supporters of populist causes like the Trump campaign are motivated by “fear, xenophobia, hatred, and a desire for answers that may or may not be there.”
Later, Walker says that Google should fight to ensure the populist movement – not just in the U.S. but around the world – is merely a “blip” and a “hiccup” in a historical arc that “bends toward progress.”
CEO Sundar Pichai states that the company will develop machine learning and A.I. to combat what an employee described as “misinformation” shared by “low-information voters.”
Key moments from the video can be found at the following timestamps:
- (00:00:00 – 00:01:12) Google co-founder Sergey Brin states that the weekly meeting is “probably not the most joyous we’ve had” and that “most people here are pretty upset and pretty sad.”
- (00:00:24) Brin contrasts the disappointment of Trump’s election with his excitement at the legalization of cannabis in California, triggering laughs and applause from the audience of Google employees.
- (00:01:12) Returning to seriousness, Brin says he is “deeply offen[ded]” by the election of Trump, and that the election “conflicts with many of [Google’s] values.”
- (00:09:10) Trying to explain the motivations of Trump supporters, Senior VP for Global Affairs, Kent Walker concludes: “fear, not just in the United States, but around the world is fueling concerns, xenophobia, hatred, and a desire for answers that may or may not be there.”
- (00:09:35) Walker goes on to describe the Trump phenomenon as a sign of “tribalism that’s self-destructive [in] the long-term.”
- (00:09:55) Striking an optimistic tone, Walker assures Google employees that despite the election, “history is on our side” and that the “moral arc of history bends towards progress.”
- (00:10:45) Walker approvingly quotes former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s comparison between “the world of the wall” with its “isolation and defensiveness” and the “world of the square, the piazza, the marketplace, where people come together into a community and enrich each other’s lives.”
- (00:13:10) CFO Ruth Porat appears to break down in tears when discussing the election result.
- (00:15:20) Porat promises that Google will “use the great strength and resources and reach we have to continue to advance really important values.”
- (00:16:50) Stating “we all need a hug,” she then instructs the audience of Google employees to hug the person closest to them.
- (00:20:24) Eileen Naughton, VP of People Operations, promises that Google’s policy team in DC is “all over” the immigration issue and that the company will “keep a close watch on it.”
- (00:21:26) Naughton jokes about Google employees asking, ‘Can I move to Canada?’ after the election. She goes on to seriously discuss the options available to Google employees who wish to leave the country.
- (00:23:12) Naughton does acknowledge “diversity of opinion and political persuasion” and notes that she has heard from conservative Google employees who say they “haven’t felt entirely comfortable revealing who [they] are.” and urged “tolerance.” (Several months later, the company would fire James Damore allegedly for disagreeing with progressive narratives.)
- (00:27:00) Responding to a question about “filter bubbles,” Sundar Pichai promises to work towards “correcting” Google’s role in them
- (00:27:30) Sergey Brin praises an audience member’s suggestion of increasing matched Google employee donations to progressive groups.
- (00:34:40) Brin compares Trump voters to “extremists,” arguing for a correlation between the economic background of Trump supporters and the kinds of voters who back extremist movements. Brin says that “voting is not a rational act” and that not all of Trump’s support can be attributed to “income disparity.” He suggests that Trump voters might have been motivated by boredom rather than legitimate concerns.
- (00:49:10) An employee asks if Google is willing to “invest in grassroots, hyper-local efforts to bring tools and services and understanding of Google products and knowledge” so that people can “make informed decisions that are best for themselves.” Pichai’s response: Google will ensure its “educational products” reach “segments of the population [they] are not [currently] fully reaching.”
- (00:54:33) An employee asks what Google is going to do about “misinformation” and “fake news” shared by “low-information voters.” Pichai responds by stating that “investments in machine learning and AI” are a “big opportunity” to fix the problem.
- (00:56:12) Responding to an audience member, Walker says Google must ensure the rise of populism doesn’t turn into “a world war or something catastrophic … and instead is a blip, a hiccup.”
- (00:58:22) Brin compares Trump voters to supporters of fascism and communism, linking the former movement to “boredom,” which Brin previously linked to Trump voters. “It sort of sneaks up sometimes, really bad things” says Brin.
- (01:01:15) A Google employee states: “speaking to white men, there’s an opportunity for you right now to understand your privilege” and urges employees to “go through the bias-busting training, read about privilege, read about the real history of oppression in our country.” He urges employees to “discuss the issues you are passionate about during Thanksgiving dinner and don’t back down and laugh it off when you hear the voice of oppression speak through metaphors.” Every executive on stage – the CEO, CFO, two VPs and the two Co-founders – applaud the employee.
- (01:01:57) An audience member asks if the executives see “anything positive from this election result.” The audience of Google employees, and the executives on stage, burst into laughter. “Boy, that’s a really tough one right now” says Brin.
Update — After Breitbart News published this article, a Google spokesperson replied to a request for comment with the following statement:
“At a regularly scheduled all hands meeting, some Google employees and executives expressed their own personal views in the aftermath of a long and divisive election season. For over 20 years, everyone at Google has been able to freely express their opinions at these meetings. Nothing was said at that meeting, or any other meeting, to suggest that any political bias ever influences the way we build or operate our products. To the contrary, our products are built for everyone, and we design them with extraordinary care to be a trustworthy source of information for everyone, without regard to political viewpoint.”
Read more: From 2018/04/03