On Monday morning, New Day aired a portion of an interview between CNN Newsroom anchor Poppy Harlow and Google’s CEO Sundar Pinchai. They discussed everything from China to data privacy, but Harlow seemed intent to focus on YouTube’s policies on “hate speech.”
After the interview concluded, Harlow then turned attention to the videos conservative YouTube comedian Steven Crowder and host of Louder With Crowder, made about Vox journalist Carlos Maza:
Guys, YouTube has taken a lot of heat also for these homophobic videos, specifically ones aimed at this Vox journalist, that are still on, even after the new guidelines. I asked him directly, why is that still there, are you going to take them down? They are in the middle of reviewing their guidelines, again meeting with outside groups and they’re considering it, but they don't know at this point. But I mean, if this is fundamental to their business, they have to make a decision about where that line is between hate and free speech.
Crowder, who is, again, a comedian, made jokes at the expense of Maza. Maza, upset that someone would dare make fun of him, then led an attempt to get Crowder de-platformed, but he only succeeded in getting Crowder’s channel demonetized. The fact that Crowder was telling jokes about Maza seemed to be entirely lost on Harlow.
The anchor was adamant about her stance on censoring free speech. She proclaimed that YouTube has “become our theater.” Equating Crowder’s jokes to the old “yelling fire in a crowded theater” cliché is a lazy and ignorant way to portray the situation to your audience. His jokes aren’t inciting violence.
The media constantly complains about the President assaulting the freedom of the press when he wrongfully refers to them as “the enemy of the people,” but they’re unwilling to stand up for free speech when it is something that they disagree with. When a journalist grills the CEO of a company for not censoring rhetoric that they disagree with, it displays a fundamental problem with the erosion of principles in America’s political class.
Here is the complete transcript:
CNN New Day
7:50 AM [7:50:16 - 7:55:47]
ERICA HILL: A CNN exclusive this morning, big tech companies like Google are coming under mounting scrutiny over privacy and also the spread of disinformation and hate speech. Google’s CEO Sundar Pinchai is responding in an exclusive new interview with CNN's Poppy Harlow and Poppy is here with us this morning. Getting candid.
POPPY HARLOW: Yeah, look, we sat down for an hour and lot of the conversation was about YouTube. You saw us walking around their data center in Oklahoma now, talked about AI and what do you do with replacing all these jobs. They’re investing a lot across the Midwest, like in Oklahoma, Michigan, Texas. We talked about that, spent a lot of time talking about YouTube because you have so many situations of hate and disinformation across YouTube. So much, guys, that they had to take down 9 million videos last quarter. I mean, 2 billion monthly active users, they took down 9 million videos. So, we talked about that problem and the issue of privacy because data is their business, right? Here it is:
HARLOW: From anti-Semitism to harassment of LGBTQ individuals, conspiracy theory videos about parkland shooting or sandy hook. Fundamentally Sundar, where do you draw the line with YouTube between hate and free speech?
SUNDAR PINCHAI (CEO OF GOOGLE): You know, it's a line, you know, we work hard to get right. Every few years we feel the need to evolve them because we see changes in how the platform is getting used. Just last week we had significant revision toss our hate speech policy. At YouTube, we are very focused on removing harmful content and reducing the spread of what we think of as borderline content. Just last quarter we deleted over 9 million videos. It's an ongoing process, but there's more we need to do.
HARLOW: Because in America, right, you can't yell fire in a crowded theater, and YouTube has really become our theater.
PINCHAI: It is. It is the equal in the real world of people getting together and talking. That can happen on YouTube as well, but it also allows us an opportunity to enforce rules of the road in a way we weren't able to as well. So we can use the forces underlying in YouTube and take them with a positive message which we're committed to doing.
HARLOW: So when YouTube announced these new rules, that it would take down horrible conspiracy theory videos denying the sandy hook massacre, but an attorney representing 10 of the families who have family members who were killed in that said that it's too late to undo the harm and talked about the undue harassment and threat they had sustained. I just wonder why it took seven years to realize those videos shouldn't be up and ads shouldn't be running next to those videos.
PINCHAI: I mean, you know, it's heartbreaking for sure. You know, all of us would look back and, you know, we wish we had gotten to the problems sooner than we did. There's an acknowledgement we didn't get it right. But I think we became aware collectively of some of the pitfalls here. Since then we've been working hard. We have changed our priorities. We have put in a lot of effort and will continue to do that.
HARLOW: Tim Cook recently said privacy in itself has become a crisis. Do you agree?
PINCHAI: I think it's very, very -- given the scale at which information is flowing, I don't think users have a good sense for how their data is being used, and so I think we put the burden on users to a large extent, and I think we need better frameworks where users get the comfort they are in control of their data, how it's used, and they feel like they have agency over it. So I think it's an important moment for all of us to do better here.
HARLOW: Guys, YouTube has taken a lot of heat also for these homophobic videos, specifically ones aimed at this Vox journalist, that are still on, even after the new guidelines. I asked him directly, why is that still there, are you going to take them down? They are in the middle of reviewing their guidelines, again meeting with outside groups and they’re considering it, but they don't know at this point. But I mean, if this is fundamental to their business, they have to make a decision about where that line is between hate and free speech.
BERMAN: I get it. I get that they say less than 1% of the videos, but that's still 9 million videos last year. It’s enormous.
HARLOW: In a quarter. In a quarter.
BERMAN: That's amazing. In a quarter. Alright, very quickly, does Google want to get back into China?
HARLOW: So, not right now. This is a key question. They pulled out of China because the government was censoring it. There was this big hack. They had human rights abuses. They pulled out in 2010. I asked directly will you go back in. He told me that they have no plans to relaunch Search in China right now. The right conditions would have to exist and I said: “Right conditions? Do you mean human rights? Censorship?” He said “without censorship is an important condition.” And that's a question I hadn't heard him directly answer before, because he does view Google as a global company, right? Not just an American company. He wants to serve the Chinese user, but at this point it's very clear Google thinks with the censorship in China they couldn't fairly serve the user because they wouldn't get accurate results, right?
BERMAM: A lot of news in that interview.