It's no secret that Google has been a major influencer in US politics for years now — the company just doesn't want you to know it. But today, it admitted in a roundabout way just how deep its ties into the government go as it defended itself against claims it tampered with an FTC investigation back in 2012.
Last week, a Wall Street Journal report suggested Google tampered with an FTC investigation that was looking to see if the search giant was engaging in anti-competitive practices. While the FTC ultimately decided not to bring a lawsuit against Google, reports published by the WSJ indicated the commission was deeply divided on whether it should sue — and another report exposed the close ties that Google has with the Obama administration. The implication was that Google used its influence in the White House to ultimately sway the FTC's decision in its favor — something that Google is now vigorously denying in an unusual post today on its public policy blog.
Google is defending itself with a bit of snark and some GIFs
In the post, Google takes aim at News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch and CEO Robert Thomson directly, saying that The Wall Street Journal was incorrectly reporting that Google "wielded undue political influence" in its dealings with the US government. While it's not unusual to see Google come out and defend itself, the manner in which it is doing so is rather strange — the blog post has numerous GIFs (including a crying baby) as well as pretty flippant and dismissive language.
Google's basic argument echoes the FTC's statement on the issue from earlier this week: the FTC's decision on the allegations "was in accord with the recommendations of the FTC's Bureau of Competition, Bureau of Economics, and Office of General Counsel," and that "not a single fact is offered to substantiate [The Wall Street Journal's] misleading narrative." Google obviously supports that version of the story, saying that the FTC's findings prove that "Google "has strong pro-competitive arguments" on its side.
The biggest company in Mountain View isn't happy with the Wall Street Journal
Regarding the claimed influence Google has over the government, the company does admit that it has had "many meetings at the White House over the years." However, Google is quick to note that it is far from alone in that regard, saying that Microsoft had 270 visits and Comcast had 150 over the same time period as Google did when it visited the White House about 230 times.
Humorously, Google tries to imply that a bunch of those visits were for technical support, curiously saying that "over five" of its visits were for support of the administration's botched Healthcare.gov launch. It also claims that 33 more of those visits were by people who weren't actually employed by Google at the time. Lastly, Google says that it wasn't visiting to discuss the anti-trust investigation — it was there to discuss a huge host of other concerns, including "patent reform, STEM education, self-driving cars, mental health, advertising, internet censorship," and a host of others. Ironically, Google's attempt at claiming it doesn't have influence in the government goes a long way towards showing just how much of a seat at the table the company really has.