Google, the tech behemoth that did so much to elect and re-elect President Obama and subsequently prop up Hillary Clinton’s disastrous campaign for the White House, has recently found itself at the center of yet another scandal. No, I don’t mean the one about firing an employee who dared to write a “politically incorrect” dissent from the company’s standard line. I mean the one where Google got called out for funding a liberal think tank that got busted for being a little too “donor-responsive” when it sacked a Google critic working there.
The move attracted lots of criticism from the right and the left, and the think tank in question has kept the scandal in the news with some seriously laughable efforts to counter good reporting about it.
But there’s one group on the left that by rights should be speaking up much more given their past conduct regarding matters of think tanks allegedly acting as mouthpieces for big corporate agendas that affect companies’ bottom lines: liberal Attorneys General.
Remember when this crowd, prominently including the U.S. Virgin Islands’ AG and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman went after Exxon Mobil and think tanks it funded for raising questions about climate change? They alleged that Exxon committed securities fraud by misleading shareholders about climate change, and it became a major investigation—and fishing expedition.
So far, it doesn’t look like the same Attorneys General are devoting the same level of attention to what has occurred with Google and the liberal think tank, the New America Foundation.
This is despite the fact that quashing criticism of Google over anti-trust matters—something that Google’s Eric Schmidt is alleged to have encouraged if not overtly asked for— significantly helps the company. It could even theroetically have the effect of giving shareholders a false impression of the company’s value and risks to its business.
Schneiderman’s office did not respond to a researcher inquiry about whether he “has launched or has any plans to launch an investigation into Google and its interactions with think tanks and potential impact on its share price.” The U.S. Virgin Islands, understandably, have bigger things to think about right now (Hurricane Irma), but Schneiderman has no such demands on his time or energy.
Maybe Google’s closeness with the Democratic Party, and Democrats’ enmity towards oil companies, has more to do with what looks like a divergent approach by Schneiderman.
The bottom line is that what these liberal Attorneys General tried with regard to Exxon and think tanks it funds was over-aggressive, a serious stretch, and could easily be considered an attack on the First Amendment. But as we’ve seen with examples ranging from attacks on some so-called “hate speech” to dedication to overturning Citizens United, liberals don’t care as much about the First Amendment as they pretend.
Whether it’s Exxon or Google, companies should be able to contribute to whatever entities to fund whatever research or advocacy, and those think tanks should be able to be exactly as donor-responsive as they want, while recognizing there’s serious potential for reputational damage and public outcry if they’re seen to be acting as stenographers for corporate cronies.
But Schneiderman and others like him obviously do not share that view, so by failing to investigate the Google-New America situation, they’re showing themselves to be that one thing the American public really, really loathes: hypocrites.