Image Credit: Shealah Craighead – White House, Public Domain

On Tuesday, August 28, 2018, President Donald Trump announced that Google search results for “Trump News” displays mostly news stories which are bad. Is this true? Yes and No.

In case you missed it, here’s what Trump tweeted:

Google search results for “Trump News” shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal? 96% of… …results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!
Tweet 1 and Tweet 2

Google Search Results for “Trump News”:

What Trump is talking about:
Searching for “Trump News” on Google results in a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) with a “Top Stories” section at the top. This “news” section is almost definitely what President Donald Trump is referring to and what the vast majority of people will see when searching for Trump News.

I’ve never felt it was “rigged”, but…
While the Top Stories section is probably not “rigged” to show just bad news for the term “Trump News”, it does indeed display recent stories about Donald Trump from news sources on the web. Google does give more weight to some news sources than others, and some of those news sources happen to run a lot of bad news stories. I think the “Top Stories” section on Google works out very well for the vast majority of searches, and I’ve never once felt that it was “rigged”. But…. Google’s “Top Stories” algorithm does indeed display significant amounts of negative press for the term “Trump News” due to the sites Google selects news from for their “Top Stories” section.

Google Responds and says results are not rigged:
Echoing what I just stated in the above paragraph, Google has now stated “We never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

“Top Stories” screenshot:
This can and does change frequently, but below is a breakdown of of what Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) looks like as of August 28, 2018 for the search “Trump News”. As you can see in the screenshot below, this search results in four main sections: Top Stories, Twitter results, a video carousel, and finally, organic search results:

How the “Top Stories” section is populated:

On November 23, 2016, I happened to break the news here that Google replaced “In The News” with “Top Stories”. It was an expected move, and a good one. Instead of simply displaying news from websites approved to publish content to “Google News” showing stories in the “In The News” section, there was now an algorithm in place for the new “Top Stories” section. Ironically, this change was due to the fact that there was indeed Fake News in the “In The News” section, and I believe one of the straws which broke the camel’s back was a fake story about Donald Trump winning the popular vote.

How “Top Stories is populated”:
In April of 2017, I wrote an article about the Google “Top Stories” algorithm. I do not have access to the algorithm and my article is far from perfect, however, it does nail down that Google populates stories from around the web in the “Top Stories” section of Google search based on a variety of factors. What are those factors? I do know for a fact that Google prefers authoritative sources. Which sources are authoritative may be subjective, but sites such as BBC and CNN would be considered the most authoritative. Top Stories may also be triggered by user demand and newsworthiness and maybe there’s some human intervention and AI mixed into the soup somewhere, too.

A word on “Google News”:
In case you weren’t aware, there is also a section of Google called Google News available at Google just wrote about this a few months ago in an article called The new Google News: AI meets human intelligence. This is indeed different than the “Top Stories” section in Google’s search results. For clarity: I know very little about Google News.

Does CNN display “Fake News” and/or “Bad News”?

Readers (and publishers) LOVE Bad News.
On the Internet, bad news stories get significantly more traffic than good news stories. Publishers need traffic to make money. So, publishers publish bad news. This is a fact. And, numerous studies have shown that CNN and other major publishers publish 90 – 93% negative press about Donald Trump.

So yes, the media does run bad news stories. So, there are a few ways to look at this:

  1. If you like Trump, you’ll probably say “This reporting is so biased, it is Fake News”.
  2. If you dislike Trump, you’ll probably say “The media is simply reporting, and Trump is only producing bad news headlines.”
  3. If you’re like me and you don’t have all day long to worry about it, you probably think that all media outlets are very biased. For example, today, is reporting that China hacked Hillary’s email server and TheHill‘s headline says the GOP is trying to repeal ObamaCare now that John McCain is dead.

CNN runs a LOT of stories about Donald Trump.

When I was a kid, MTV played music videos and CNN played breaking news.
That just isn’t the case any more. Here’s a screenshot I took of CNN one day in July. There may have been free donuts at Krispy Kreme, or maybe it was national take your cat to work day, or there could have been a tremendous run in the stock market, or an earthquake, or, maybe it was actually a slow day. Who knows! I visited CNN to see the day’s news but was presented with a wall of Trump stories:

Think positive!

I have personally been taking a break from the news. Since the fall of the paper, news organizations have been struggling to get as much traffic as possible to their websites. Unfortunately, this means displaying bad news. Here are some tips on thinking positive. I felt the need to add these after typing such a depressing article! 🙂

What do you think?

Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts.

Is CNN fake news? Is Fox News fake news? Should Google tweak the “Top Stories” section of their website for political content? What would you do if it were your search engine? Is Google already doing a great job?

  1. I bumped into an article today which offers additional insight and the writer has a great understanding of how “Google News” works:

  2. Ben Swan sums it up for me in this video.

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