Google Shuts Down Think Tank Scholars Researching Anti-Monopoly Topics
The New America Foundation is a “nonpartisan” think tank in Washington DC that comes closer to that label than most. For example, among its founders in the late 1990s was Michael Lind, a liberal who even believes in immigration restriction.
But, of course, there are things people who work for New America are prudent not to do, such as criticize the monopoly power of Google, a major donor.
From the New York Times:
By KENNETH P. VOGELAUG. 30, 2017
WASHINGTON — In the hours after European antitrust regulators levied a record $2.7 billion fine against Google in late June, an influential Washington think tank learned what can happen when a tech giant that shapes public policy debates with its enormous wealth is criticized.
The New America Foundation has received more than $21 million from Google; its parent company’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt; and his family’s foundation since the think tank’s founding in 1999. That money helped to establish New America as an elite voice in policy debates on the American left.
But not long after one of New America’s scholars posted a statement on the think tank’s website praising the European Union’s penalty against Google, Mr. Schmidt, who had been chairman of New America until 2016, communicated his displeasure with the statement to the group’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, according to the scholar. …
Those worries seemed to be substantiated a couple of days later, when Ms. Slaughter summoned the scholar who wrote the critical statement, Barry Lynn, to her office. He ran a New America initiative called Open Markets that has led a growing chorus of liberal criticism of the market dominance of telecom and tech giants, including Google …
Ms. Slaughter told Mr. Lynn that “the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,” according to an email from Ms. Slaughter to Mr. Lynn. The email suggested that the entire Open Markets team — nearly 10 full-time employees and unpaid fellows — would be exiled from New America. …
While she asserted in the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times, that the decision was “in no way based on the content of your work,” Ms. Slaughter accused Mr. Lynn of “imperiling the institution as a whole.” …Among the most effective — if little examined — tools in Google’s public policy toolbox has been its funding of nonprofit groups from across the political spectrum. This year, it has donated to 170 such groups, according to Google’s voluntary disclosures on Google’s website.
This is pretty common. For example, the Gates Foundation, according to Diane Ravitch, has pretty much subsidized every education policy think tank, so their various schooling initiatives tend to get uniformly glowing reviews when reporters call around to “independent experts” to hear their opinions of whatever the latest thing the Gates Foundation is pushing.
This helps explain why certain positions are so under-represented in contemporary intellectual discourse, such as promoting old-fashioned anti-trust enforcement and immigration restriction. There’s just not a lot of money to be made on the public-spirited sides of these issues.
A funny example of this is how it drives the SPLC berserk that there exists a small-town eye doctor and environmental activist named Dr. John Tanton who helps fund some small immigration skeptical think tanks. How dare Dr. Tanton contribute to research into immigration policy, the SPLC has thundered for decades now. How can America tolerate some private citizen having the unmitigated gall to write checks to promote research and activism, when everybody knows that only disinterested billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and the Google Guys should be allowed to influence public discussion?