At least once a day Google News shuffles its line-up of stories relevant to a given state and, through its own murky algorithms, decides which story is most important. On Tuesday, Google put this one at the top, “The exec who put Kansas at center of Google Earth is running to control Kansas’s next election.”
Although Google lists any number of articles about this subject–including one from the Kansas City Star–the one it features is from a left-leaning tech publication called “Quartz.” The article highlights the ambitions of one Brian McClendon, a former vice president of engineering at Google whose claim to fame is putting his native Lawrence at the center of the world on Google Earth.
“I reached a tipping point in November 2016,” McClendon told Quartz’s Michael Coren. “I decided I was going to move back and combine my desire to move home and make a change in Kansas.” McLendon is from Lawrence and got his Ph.D. from KU in electrical engineering. Although he has yet to declare or raise any money, McClendon plans to run for Secretary of State. Not until the last paragraph of the piece does Coren use the word “Democrat” or “Democratic.”
McClendon is, in fact, running as a Democrat, more precisely as the anti-Kris Kobach. Kobach, the reader learns, “led Trump’s voter fraud commission, which disbanded amid accusations of voter suppression.” Those accusations, of course, are a standard leftist response to any attempt to prevent non-citizens from voting or to eliminate voter fraud.
McClendon, however, wants everyone to vote. “I’ve become convinced this is something we really need to change,” said McClendon. “The secretary of state should be leading the effort to make it easier to vote.”
The focus on McLendon is part of the media’s larger, fanciful effort to depict Kansas as a “battleground” state in 2018. Ever since Thomas Frank’s inexplicable 2004 bestseller, What’s the Matter with Kansas, a book that Coren references, the left has been trying to rescue Kansas from its seeming descent into conservatism. The media imagined 2014 was to be the year that the state turned left except it rather spectacularly did not.
In 2016 Trump carried the state by more than 20 points, which even Coren sees as something of a challenge. An additional challenge, which he does not mention, is growing public dissatisfaction with the tech world’s repressively monolithic culture and its creepy, invasive “googley” values.