What Google tells us about Clinton’s emails

October 21, 2015

By Emily Stephenson and Angela Moon

People searching Google for information about White House hopeful Hillary Clinton most wanted to know about the ongoing drama over her emails as she prepares to give testimony about the 2012 Benghazi attacks, Wednesday data from the search giant showed.

Queries about Clinton’s private email account, which she used instead of a government one while she was U.S. secretary of state, were the top looked-for topics under the search term “Hillary Clinton,” according to Google Trends data.

For the past seven days on average, Clinton’s emails ranked in the top Google queries, along with liberal U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden, who finally said on Wednesday that he would not enter the race for the White House.

Clinton will appear Thursday before a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Libya, in which four Americans died.

That panel’s investigation found that Clinton used a private email address and server and prompted the State Department to begin releasing batches of Clinton’s emails from her time there.

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton poses for a picture with supporter Maria Anita Monsivaiz, who has her hair styled with Clinton’s image, at the end of a “Latinos for Hillary” rally in San Antonio, Texas October 15, 2015. REUTERS/Darren Abate

Clinton says Republicans are politicizing the email issue and the Benghazi attacks to score political points. Republicans on the panel say they are conducting a legitimate investigation.

A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that most Democrats agree with Clinton, with 54 percent of those surveyed saying they thought the investigation was entirely or mostly about discrediting her.

Google search interest in Clinton’s emails spikes and ebbs with the news cycle. In March, when it became public that Clinton used a private server, all of the top rising queries on Google related to Clinton were about her emails.

In May, the email issue fell in search importance, while the top queries were about Clinton and Yoko Ono. That was after a website claimed the former First Lady and Ono, an artist and widow of musician John Lennon, had an affair.

Queries about Clinton’s emails were at the top of searches for her on Monday, but on Tuesday they were dethroned by searches for information about Clinton dropping out of the 2016 presidential race.

That was apparently prompted by a satirical piece in the New Yorker magazine imagining Republicans canceling Thursday’s Benghazi hearing if Clinton dropped out of the race.

Data compiled by Armineh Nourbakhsh of Thomson Reuters F&R.

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