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Here’s How Google’s Money Really Influences Research

Yesterday, the New York Times reported that the New America Foundation—which over the course of years has received $21 million in funding from Google and its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt— terminated a program run by the prominent antitrust scholar Barry Lynn after he praised the European Commission’s decision to fine Google  for abuse of market dominance. Since then, one of Lynn’s associates denounced Google in the Washington Post , New America president and CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter made a reference to “fake news” on Twitter, and the foundation released the entire text of the emails the Times reported on. In the cloistered think-tank world, this is the intellectual equivalent of a cage match. It’s good to see that Google’s massive donations to think tanks, universities, and other groups are finally getting attention–just last month the Wall Street Journal ran a blockbuster story on Google’s influence in academia . But focusing on the specifics of what happened at New America–whether or not Google explicitly asked the organization to terminate Lynn’s Open Markets program because of what he said, or if that influence was less direct–isn’t an especially good way to understand how Google influences the public policy debate. Certainly, the specifics don’t make the New America Foundation look good. After his post about the European Commission’s antitrust fine, Lynn says that New America president and CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter told him on a conference call that Google had threatened to cut off the organization’s funding. “She told me that ‘we’ve been in contact with Google and they’re extremely upset,'” Lynn told me. Both New America and Google issued statements saying this didn’t happen. (Lynn’s Open Markets project will continue, outside New America, and it has already launched a website .) But it wouldn’t be the first time Google threw its weight around in the nonprofit world: In 2009, a Google policy executive emailed a foundation to reconsider its funding of an organization that was asking tough questions about Google’s privacy policies , although he later apologized

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Here’s How Google’s Money Really Influences Research

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