The Republican Party in Arizona has spent a large amount of money blocking the public from seeing the details of the Cyber Ninja scam audit of the 2020 election. They are doing this because besides being an actual real story of attempted election fraud on the part of GOP officials and MAGA Big Lie conspiracists, it is the only thing they have that approaches a policy prescription for governing. The GOP’s only prescription for government is fascism. The official social media account of the Arizona Republican Party labeled anyone reporting on the continued 2020 “election fraud” claims from the right “domestic terrorists.”
On Oct. 5, conspiracy theorist, Jan. 6 participant, and Republican candidate for Arizona secretary of state Mark Finchem had an important set of accusations that would likely bring the liberal media to its knees. On Twitter, along with his fundraising ask, he wrote: “Google & the crooks in California refuse to rank my website in their deep state algorithm. Please share my website & link to it so that the voters can see it. They DON’T want me to look at election corruption in Arizona. Crooked #FakeFontes is their fixer.” A very serious accusation! Is Finchem—a former police officer and Arizona House representative who not once but twice accused shadowy “deep state” operatives of running a psychological operation (he said “PSYOP” at the time) to fabricate the racists in Charlottesville—on to something?
No. It’s that his campaign doesn’t know how to run a website.
The GRID news decided to look into this assertion by Finchem. It saw that Finchem’s campaign page was indeed absent from any Google searches for his name or campaign. The only way to find Finchem’s website was to directly type in the URL. And, as GRID notes, Finchem’s online presence is like a three-year vomit spewing of hot garbage, so you’d imagine his campaign page would come up in searches.* However, GRID was able to confirm that “Finchem’s site was coded to explicitly direct Google and other search engines not to index it.”
As Will Adler, senior technologist for elections and democracy with the Center for Democracy and Technology, told GRID, “There are two possibilities here. One is that the Finchem campaign has incorrectly set its site not to be indexed. The other is that the campaign purposely set it to not be indexed, so Finchem could falsely blame ‘the algorithm’ for his website not being indexed.”
Finchem’s Twitter feed is one misleading story after another. It is a never-ending stream of election fraud accusations, all disproven long ago, coupled with promotions of his accounts on other media platforms like the failing Truth Social Trump shell game. There may not be a single true thing ever written or posted or retweeted by Finchem’s prodigious social media accounts. As Adler told GRID, you really have make sure you don’t allow Google to list your website in searches by actively clicking a “no” on the option page in preferences, “which seems like a strange thing to do when you’re running a campaign, frankly.”
Furthermore, GRID was able to look back and see that this is not a circumstance where the website was created and the search function turned off. That decision would not be entirely unusual as a sort of soft launch of a site while one sends friends and copy editors to the site to make sure everything is polished. But that’s not what has happened here.
Archived copies of the site indicate the “noindex” code was inserted in Finchem’s site between mid-July and Aug. 1. Earlier snapshots of the site don’t include the command.
As with everything in the fractured Republican Party these days, anything resembling sanity from an elected official in regards to Trump’s Big Lie election conspiracies has been met with an avalanche of attacks from Trump’s Big Lie election conspiracists—including from Donald Trump himself. Finchem has no problems in this department, having fully embraced the alternate reality where he and a few of his white law enforcement officials and billionaire donors represent the only voters in the country.
*Finchem’s various conspiracy theories and bad politics do come up in searches, just not the campaign page.
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After an eruption of even more scandals among Republican Senate candidates, FiveThirtyEight’s Nathaniel Rakich returns to The Downballot this week to discuss the effect these sorts of scandals can have on competitive races; whether Democrats stand a chance to keep the House; and the different ways pollsters create likely voter models.