Well folks, if you weren’t sure if we are heading toward state-sponsored media, I think this pretty much sums it up for us. We saw hints leading up to this, but finally it becomes blatantly obvious. Now we’ve got Google pitching the Obama administration’s policies (and the First Lady’s) right there on its Home page. It was posted in precise coordination with the timing of the White House’s distribution of its email announcement on the “United We Serve” campaign, which supports the recent policies passed into law regarding community service.
We all know that Google has become a partner of the federal government. Sure, they’ve been involved in previous administrations in some way, usually as a political donor. But this administration has been far different. So this should come as no surprise to most of us. But the question this poses is this:
Can Google really be considered a non-partisan source at this point?
Google is perhaps the largest aggregate of news and media sources in the nation. It’s also the largest broker of advertising sales. Add to that its near monopoly of popular technology, with products like YouTube, Google Maps, Google Earth, Picasa, and of course its well-known search engine platform. That makes for one really, really powerful outlet. Can this country afford for Google to be this involved in both the News media and Social media connection to this White House? How much longer until it becomes its own state-sponsored media outlet for America?
It’s not so far fetched. Recent events show us how powerful YouTube has been in the role of government relations as we watch these events in Iran unfold on YouTube. Perhaps Obama is less outspoken because he is doing his speaking in a more subtle way, through YouTube. We know that the White House and the State Department, as well as security officials, have been in discussion with Google, along with Twitter, to gain their cooperation in this escalating international crisis.
But let’s look at the lead-up, if you will.
First there were the Presidential debates on YouTube in 2008. Just encouraging America to keep up with the times? Perhaps.
Then, there were nearly $800,000 in political contributions to the Obama campaign from Google. Not including any of the ancillary PACs through which the company also contributed – that’s just the direct Google bucks. Add to that over $3,720,000 in lobbying cash combined from 2008 and 2009 YTD. ($7300,000 by way of The Podesta Group in 08 and 09…for those of you following our ACORN-John Podesta money trail postings…).
And as Obama won his Presidential victory, Google celebrated with a huge post-inauguration party in Washington D.C., filled with lavish games and entertainment and attended by a variety of hot-shot celebrities. Soon after, Obama appointed Google CEO Eric Schmidt to his Economic Advisory Board and also to his Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. This was after Schmidt turned down Obama’s first offer to serve as Technology Czar.
In February, the administration appointed Google product manager and Election Team co-founder, Katie Jacobs Stanton as Director of Citizen Participation. Stanton’s influence was immediately evident, as the White House began using Google Moderator, a product Stanton worked on, as its tool for submitting audience participant questions during its town hall meetings after successfully exxperimenting with it during the election.
Add to all of this that the White House now conducts its weekly video addresses exclusively on YouTube. And Congress launched multiple YouTube channels. It doesn’t seem like coincidence that rather than choosing C-SPAN, which has already been providing such a public service, or another non-commercial video service, this administration has exclusively chosen to operate its public outreach through YouTube – a very commercial service. This comes at a time when Google is trying to develop its political advertising business into a year-round operation, and when the Democratic Party is committed to campaigning year-round through its Organizing for America arm (which evidently also uses Google/YouTube products).
Then in May Google posted links on its hme page to the Obama Time Capsule project. Hardly anything less than a super-glorified free advertisement for the sale of the book on Amazon, and its creators, Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt, and their outfit Against All Odds Productions. Google played a significant role by supplying the technology that “helped users share their thoughts and photographs with a broad audience”.
Many dismiss such ideas as conspiracy theories, or simply anti-Obama views. I can tell you that Google has been a favorite of mine ever since its inception – I’ve used their products loyally as one who works in the new media industry. But step back for a moment and just think about the power of a commercial force like Google. Look at the impact its had on the events of the Iran election through YouTube alone. And look at the influence from Google in the President’s advisory boards.
Now remind yourself that Google is the #1 rated online source of news for Americans.
Do you think that a private, commercial business should be as involved in the federal public sector as it is, when taking into consideration what the company sells? News, advertising and technology. All I ask is that we look at that and consider it. Forget ABC, CBC, NBC – it’s not so far fetched that Google is fast becoming the nation’s state-sponsored media. And that combination trumps all the television media put together.