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Google’s Disturbing Influence Over Think Tanks

The first thing you see when you walk into the offices of the New America Foundation in Washington is the Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab, a space named after the executive chairman of Google’s parent company. Google, Mr. Schmidt and his family’s foundation are the principal funders of that think tank www.nytimes.com

The first thing you see when you walk into the offices of the New America Foundation in Washington is the Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab, a space named after the executive chairman of Google’s parent company. Google, Mr. Schmidt and his family’s foundation are the principal funders of that think tank.

On Wednesday, New America’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, issued a statement saying that Barry Lynn, a pre-eminent scholar there, had been fired for “his repeated refusal to adhere to New America’s standards of openness and institutional collegiality.”

What horrible, dangerous act had Mr. Lynn committed? He wrote a piece for New America’s website in support of the $2.7 billion fine the European Union levied against Google for antitrust violations in June. That post fit perfectly with the work of the Open Markets initiative he led, which has been one of the strongest voices in Washington calling for more antitrust scrutiny of our economy. It’s the platform Mr. Lynn, Matt Stoller and Lina Khan have used to call for regulatory scrutiny of the tech monopolies like Google, Amazon and Facebook as these companies increasingly come to dominate our economy. But Google’s financial power at New America was apparently such that it could close the group down. Though Ms. Slaughter denies the connection between Google’s funding and her decision, the implication seems clear. A firm whose motto was “Don’t Be Evil” has no interest in being called a monopoly by a think tank it funds.

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