In what critics are calling a "deeply troubling" indication of the power massive corporations have over ostensibly independent policy shops, New America—an influential Washington-based think tank—reportedly decided to oust a prominent anti-monopoly voice after he praised the European Union's June decision to fine Google for "abus[ing] its market dominance."
"Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings."
—Barry Lynn, Open MarketsBarry Lynn, then the head of New America's Open Markets initiative, penned a statement applauding the $2.7 billion penalty against Google shortly after the EU's decision was made public.
According to Lynn, this raised the ire of Eric Schmidt—executive chairman of Google's parent company Alphabet—who is also a major benefactor of New America. In addition, as the New York Times notes, New America has received over $20 million in donations from Google.
Shortly following Schmidt's complaints about the statement, New America CEO Anne Marie-Slaughter told Lynn in an email that "the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways."
"We are in the process of trying to expand our relationship with Google on some absolutely key points," Slaughter wrote in a separate email to Lynn, imploring him to "just THINK about how you are imperiling funding for others."
In an interview with the Times, Lynn charged that New America's decision to cut ties with the Open Markets program—which included a staff of ten full-time employees—was a direct result of Google pressure.
"Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings," Lynn told the Times. "People are so afraid of Google now."
On social media, prominent critics of corporate consolidation—including New America fellows—expressed outrage at the think tank's decision to oust the Open Markets team.
"Time for a national anti-monopoly movement! Time to start enforcing antitrust again!"
—Zephyr TeachoutZephyr Teachout, an Open Markets fellow and critic of money in politics, wrote in response to reports of New America's move: "Google has too much power."
The organization's decision to push out Lynn and the entire Open Markets team was a result of Google's realization "that anti-monopoly critics are gaining popular support and must be squashed," Teachout concluded. "Time for a national anti-monopoly movement! Time to start enforcing antitrust again!"
Others similarly argued that the New America story is part of a much broader problem of excessive corporate concentration and influence.
This also does a great job of confirming just how insidious and threatening monopoly power is. https://t.co/aC7J5T02ux
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) August 30, 2017
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) August 30, 2017
(1) Monopoly is a political problem. (2) We don't like bullies. (3) We will not stop our work. https://t.co/AB2KZhSmYX
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) August 30, 2017
Number of countries and corporations who fund DC think tanks without wanting something in return: Zero. https://t.co/oLIcNheyIQ
— DavidKenner (@DavidKenner) August 30, 2017
New America ousted Open Markets group doing important antitrust work at Google's behest. We have a monopoly problem. https://t.co/gDkBqVL3ve
— Marshall Steinbaum (@Econ_Marshall) August 30, 2017