At first, I thought the Internet search engine Google (search) was making a political statement.

Go to Google, type in "failure" and up pops George W. Bush with a link to the official White House Web site bio of President Bush.

But go back and it appears to also link the word failure to MichaelMoore.com.

So what is this?

I called Google to ask what they are up to, that it sure looks like an editorial statement.

But they said, "It's not us."

They sent me this statement:

"Google's search results are objectively generated by machine algorithms. This is not a political statement from Google but rather a reflection of a recent Web phenomenon. In this case, a select group of webmasters used the word "failure" to describe and link to George Bush's Web site."

This actually has a name. It's called Google bombing (search) and it's a clever trick used by bored computer guys to drive Google searches to a Web site that probably doesn't have any connection to the word used in the search.

Google doesn't try to stop this. Unless a judge issues a ruling that what is going on amounts to libel or slander or malicious defamation, then Google would go in and disconnect from the sites which contain the actual defamation, libel or slander.

Now I get to things late and this is evidently more than a year old. The cognoscenti have been on to this joke for some time.

Google's lawyers say they have no exposure here. The search engine is just a reflection of what is going on out there on the Web.

Maybe.

But I think if Google allows people to be slimed by this trick, they might find a judge one day who doesn't buy this Google defense that somebody else is committing the libel and slander and defamation, that Google's passive role in letting it happen isn't good enough.

We can't get away with that on TV by saying, "We didn't slander that guy. The person we were interviewing did the slandering." The courts would find we carried the slander, so we become a slanderer.

Would a judge say Google connects the world failure and George Bush and Michael Moore (search) and decide they've been defamed?

Maybe not those two. But maybe somebody else.

That's My Word.

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