Zephyr Teachout in The Intercept:
Lynn and his team pushed Democrats to embrace anti-monopoly as a serious policy issue, catalyzed a public debate about Amazon’s power, and spearheaded an intellectual revolution around antitrust enforcement to overturn the consumer welfare standard developed by Robert Bork. Even those who disagreed with Open Markets never questioned their integrity. As Cornell Law School Professor James Grimmelmann tweeted yesterday, “something unsettling and dangerous is happening in tech markets.” And while Grimmelmann often disagreed with Lynn and Open Markets, he added that “unless teams like Open Markets get the support and freedom they need to keep thinking and writing about it, NO ONE WILL.”
Apparently these ideas threatened Google.
In June, when the European Union fined Google $2.7 billion for abusing its dominant position to serve itself and quash competition, the Open Markets team put out a press statement that was entirely consistent with its longstanding position. It praised the EU’s action, and argued that American antitrust authorities should also look at Google’s use of its search power to leverage its influence in other markets.
New America’s leadership must have gotten an earful. Within 72 hours, New America’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, told Lynn that he — and all of us on the Open Markets team — had to leave. As the New York Times reported yesterday, Slaughter emailed Lynn to say that “the time has come for Open Markets and New America to part ways,” and the email accused Lynn of “imperiling the institution as a whole.” (After the Times story was published, Slaughter tweeted that the article was “false,” though she later added, “facts are largely right, but quotes are taken way out of context and interpretation is wrong.”)
For years, Google has provided funding to New America as part of its philanthropic giving. According to the Times, more than $21 million came to New America from Google and from Eric Schmidt and his family foundation (Schmidt is the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet). One would hope that Google would provide those funds in the best tradition of free thought: without ideological strings attached. But apparently the smallest dissent is too much to bear.