In 2017, the world was introduced to James Damore, a Google engineer who published a document to the company’s internal message boards claiming (inaccurately) that genetic differences between men and women explain disparate representation in the engineering profession and that the company’s diversity initiatives had created bias in its hiring processes.
After Google fired Damore, he started palling around with far-right figures like Milo Yiannopoulos and launched a high-profile lawsuit claiming the company discriminates against conservatives, whites, Asians, and men. (The lawsuit hasn’t been faring so well, with Damore dropping out to pursue arbitration, but it did provide months of gristle for right-wingers grousing about liberal Silicon Valley.) His mantle was more recently taken up by fellow former Google engineer Kevin Cernekee, who was until recently hitting up the conservative media circuit parroting similar claims before old internal emails showed he had some very eyebrow-raising views on white supremacists and skinheads. The latest former Googler conservatives are trotting out is somehow a downgrade even from that.
Per the Daily Beast, far-right provocateur James O’Keefe of Project Veritas posted a video on Wednesday featuring self-proclaimed “whistleblower” Zach Vorhies. Vorhies until recently worked for Google-owned YouTube, according to the Beast, and claims that a trove of internal documents prove Google is doing their best to suppress conservative viewpoints online.
Unfortunately for O’Keefe and right-wingers seeking another standard-bearer to take down Google, Vorhies is also apparently a fan of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, an anti-vaccine truther, and promoter of claims that “Zionists” killed right-wing publisher Andrew Breitbart and may be trying to kill him, too:
On social media, Vorhies is an avid promoter of anti-Semitic accusations that banks, the media, and the United States government are controlled by “Zionists.” He’s also pushed conspiracy theories like QAnon, Pizzagate, and the discredited claim that vaccines cause autism.
On Wednesday, O’Keefe defended Vorhies on Twitter. “Not every source is a perfect angel,” he tweeted. “Good journalists know this is true.” Vorhies and Google didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Vorhies’ Twitter account, @perpetualmaniac, was still public as of Thursday morning and contains posts promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories including ZOG (“Zionist Occupation Government”), which in one tweet he claimed runs media reform advocacy nonprofit Free Press. In since-deleted tweets, he used so-called “echo” parentheses, which neo-Nazis and other anti-Semites use to harass Jews, and asserted a conspiracy that “toxic vaccines” are being used to poison the “goy” population, according to the Beast.
Vorhies has also reportedly promoted conspiracy theories like QAnon, a sprawling far-right internet phenomenon that asserts Donald Trump is waging a secret war against a cabal of leftist pedophiles, and Pizzagate, a similar theory that has resulted in real-world violence, the Beast wrote.
This is, of course, the kind of thing that wouldn’t have merited mention in the press had conservatives not been waging a war on Google for years—in large part at the behest of Trump, who has a serious grudge against the company over baseless claims that it has blacklisted his speeches and messes with search results to screw him over.
None of these claims have stuck because they are lies. Instead, they’ve largely served to muddy the waters around genuine issues that people should be concerned about regarding Google—like its domination of the search market and associated antitrust and anti-competition concerns. A recent in-depth Wired article articulated that, far from being a left-wing echo chamber, Google’s freewheeling culture has long generated robust and often fractious internal debate about just about everything the company does, perhaps explaining the string of self-declared conservative warriors who have been spilling out of the company in more ways than one. The Wired piece ended by noting Project Veritas would “love to hear” from disaffected Googlers.