They absolutely know, that if you search Disney, and Disney isnt the first result, they wrote it incorrectly. They also know their product has less value if it returns spam, which is why they fight SEO artists.
They do try to distance themselves from "choosing" the top result for "best construction store" or "best news site" by shouting the world algorithm, to distract the conversation. That doesnt mean they dont carefully craft the algorithm to return a relevant top result.
I found https://medium.com/@mikewacker/googles-manual-interventions-... an interesting read on that topic. It's not just a crafted algorithm, but there are different algorithms and employees choose different algorithms for some queries if they/journalists dislike what the original algorithm considered most relevant.
I'd fully expect to see these interventions fed back into the algorithm so Google can better predict "this search term is likely to be targeted by partisan or otherwise suspiciously motivated actors".