California Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu admitted on Wednesday that he wants to censor free speech, but he can’t because the First Amendment prevents him from doing so.
Lieu made the remarks while speaking on CNN about Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s recent testimony before Congress about the issue of political bias in Google’s search algorithm.
“The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, testifying before your committee about a number of concerns,” CNN host Brianna Keilar said. “You took an opportunity to push back on Republican claims of bias in Google searches. In the middle of this hearing you Googled Republican Steve Scalise, you Googled after that Republican Steve King to show that there were favorable stories, including from conservative outlets about Scalise, negative coverage of King, and you made the point essentially, that’s not because of a Google algorithm, it’s because of what these members do and say.”
“I will say, it was — it was clever. It caught some attention,” Keilar continued. “But I wonder, have you thought that maybe you and other Democrats have missed opportunities to use your time to press Google’s CEO at a time when these large tech companies are struggling to manage content perpetuating conspiracy theories, they’re so vulnerable to outside interference? Isn’t that a focus that could have been a missed opportunity?”
“So it’s a very good point you make,” Lieu responded. “I would love if I could have more than five minutes, to question witnesses. Unfortunately, I don’t get that opportunity.”
“However, I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech,” Lieu continued. “The First Amendment prevents me from doing so. And that’s simply a function of the First Amendment. But I think over the long run, it’s better that government does not regulate the content of speech.”
Lieu then suggested that the tech companies should do a better job of censoring free speech.
“I would urge these private sector companies to regulate it better themselves,” Lieu concluded. “But it’s really nothing that I believe government can do. And so that’s been my position all along.”