Search giant Google has clashed with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp media empire yet again, this time, laughing away - and addressing “inaccuracies” published in a Wall Street Journal piece claiming the firm is interfering with White House policy in a bid to influence the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on its Google anti-trust investigation.
On Google’s Public Policy Blog, a post written by Rachel Whetstone, senior vice president of communications and policy at Google, has disputed claims from Wall Street Journal article ‘Google Makes Most of Close Ties to White House’ - published 24 March - claiming that the firm was using its clout with Obama to influence US policy.
The WSJ article said: “Google’s knack for getting in the room with important government officials is gaining new relevance as scrutiny grows over how the company avoided being hit by the FTC with a potentially damaging antitrust lawsuit.”
In response, Google last week posted a laughing baby GIF, in response to the accusations stating: “Last year Robert Thomson, chief of News Corp, accused Google of creating a ‘less informed, more vexatious level of dialogue in our society'. Given the tone of some of your publications, that made quite a few people chuckle.
“This week you were at it again. One of your newspapers, The Wall Street Journal, accused Google of wielding undue political influence. Blimey!”
In the blog, Google said that of the 230 alleged Google visits to the White House, “33 of the White House visits were by people not employed here at the time... and over five visits were a Google engineer on leave helping to fix technical issues with the government’s Healthcare.gov website”.
It added that comparatively, Microsoft mustered 270 visits and Comcast 150.
Google also denied ever discussing the FTC's antitrust case against the firm at the White House which the WSJ alleged: "The findings [from the Bureau of Competition] stand in contrast to the conclusion of the FTC’s commissioners, who voted unanimously in early 2013 to end the investigation."
In response, the FTC said: "[The WSJ] makes a number of misleading inferences and suggestions about the integrity of the FTC's investigation.
"The article suggests that a series of disparate and unrelated meetings involving FTC officials and executive branch officials or Google representatives somehow affected the commission's decision to close the search investigation in early 2013. Not a single fact is offered to substantiate this misleading narrative."
The spat with News Corp and the FTC, comes as the firm also faces anti-trust issues in the EU, with both sides unable to come to an agreement.