Commentators on the Senate Judiciary Google Hearing

9/22/11 | 9:21:00 AM

Schmidt “Responsive and Deferential”, Had “The More Convincing Argument”

Here’s what independent journalists and commentators are saying about Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on Google:

Schmidt Was “Prepared and At Ease”, “Responsive and Deferential”, “Calm and Cool”; “Has the More Convincing Argument”


“None of the senators were able to lay a glove on him or his company, and...he avoided making any major mistakes, and came off as prepared and at ease.” (AdWeek)

San Jose Mercury News

“For the most part, Schmidt appeared calm and cool as he fielded questions, and he argued that Google isn't using its dominance in search to stifle competitors. He also avoided sounding arrogant, smug or pedantic in explaining Google's business -- traits that seemed to trip up Microsoft founder Bill Gates when he testified before Congress in 1998.” (Mercury News)

Wall Street Journal

“Schmidt...emerged mostly unscathed from the company's most dramatic confrontation with Washington in its 13-year existence.” (Wall Street Journal)

Colin Gillis, Analyst, BGC Partners
“Gillis said...some of the senators were ‘gunning hard’ for Google but
Schmidt handled himself professionally.” (Reuters)

National Journal

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt put on a show of confidence on Wednesday before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, giving excruciating details of competitors from Yelp to Bing in testimony aimed at persuading lawmakers that the company is open, honest, and impossible to indict.” (National Journal)

Reihan Salam, National Review Online

“Schmidt...emphasized the many ways in which the environment in which operates is different from the world of the 1990s...I think that Schmidt has the more convincing argument.” (National Review Online)

Randy Picker, Univ. of Chicago Law School

“There was no meltdown there. Schmidt was responsive and deferential. Soft-spoken; disagreed when he needed to.” (Twitter)

Jeff Roberts, Paid Content

“While the dust is yet to settle, it is clear that Google held its own. Schmidt did not make any unforced errors and so the company came away from Washington as well as it could have hoped.” (PaidContent)

Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land

“Google’s Eric Schmidt, the first witness, came off better than most of the senators questioning him. One of his major themes was that Google creates jobs and economic value and regulation might impair job creation in the future...However mostly people spoke in slogans (“level the playing field”) and generalities. Nobody suggested that Google should be banned from placing its own content on [search engine results pages] or that it should loose control over the layout and content on the page.” (Search Engine Land)

Charles Cooper, CBS News

“Then again, the odds were stacked almost entirely in favor of Schmidt, who had the easy advantage in brainpower, facility with the subject matter and, ultimately, cool. Schmidt, sounding often like a geeky version of Casey Stengel, calmly responded to simple - honestly, sometimes simple-minded - questions with winding, coast-to-coast explanations that left his interlocutors with their eyes glazed over.” (CBS News)

Schmidt “Avoided a Gates-Like Disaster”; “At Every Turn...Message Seemed to Be: We’re Nothing Like Microsoft”


“Schmidt avoids a Gates-like disaster in D.C...He held his own against what appeared to several skeptical lawmakers.” (CNET)

Roger Kay, Analyst, Forbes

“[Schmidt’s] smoothness under congressional fire contrasted glaringly with the prickly way Gates handled himself in 1998...He made several references to Microsoft, both as a competitor and as a company that had itself been in the anti-trust hot seat more than a decade earlier. Essentially, he said, we are not like them.” (Forbes)

New York Times

“After Mr. Schmidt said that he agreed that Google could do a better job describing the changes it makes to its algorithm, Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said he appreciated Google’s willingness to change and that it was different from Microsoft. (New York Times, Sept. 21, 2011)

Time Magazine - Techland

“At every turn, Schmidt's message seemed to be: We're nothing like Microsoft....In the end, Schmidt seems to have faced the grilling as best as he could: Polite, deferential, but pushing back firmly when he had to.” (Time)

Melissa Maxman, Antitrust Attorney, Cozen O’Connor

“Maxman said that was a good tone for Schmidt to hit. ‘It's the smart way to present it because the Microsoft inquiry didn't go all that well.’” (USA Today)

Critics “Failed to Establish that Google Has Harmed Competition”, “Found No Evidence of Google Antitrust Violations”, “Flat Out Lied”

Eric Goldman, Santa Clara Law School

“The most noteworthy thing is what didn't happen. The senators, obviously amply aided by Google critics, apparently have not found any smoking gun evidence of Google antitrust violations, just like all of the other Google critics have failed to do. “ (Politico Pro)

Keith Hylton, Boston University Law School

“But some legal observers said that rivals have so far failed to establish that Google has harmed competition rather than just competitors. ‘At this stage, all we know is that some rival firms have suffered as a result of Google's practices,’ said Keith Hylton, an antitrust expert at Boston University's School of Law. ‘But that doesn't tell us whether consumers have been harmed in any way.’” (Wall Street Journal)

Tom Tobin, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

“Some of the complaints were puzzling, as they dealt with Google’s supposedly agnostic listing of seach findings.” (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine

“Seriously, if we are going to go after Google for playing dirty, let's nab it for something other than the fact that its search engine is doing its actual job. I want to remind people that sites unwillingly crawled can simply add some text to the code. The stop-the-bot text will prevent a Google bot from reading the page. It seems to work and there are plenty of black sites all over the net that Google does not index...Like any other big company, no matter what the motto, you can be sure Google aggravates someone. The complaint that the company is shuttling search results to its own sites seems bogus. Let's find something real to complain about.” (

Stacey Higginbotham, GigaOM

“I’m not sure I can buy into the gatekeeper idea as a reason for Washington to intervene. If consumers can switch easily to a new search engine, Congress getting involved makes it seem like we are in danger of becoming a nanny state to protect specific business interests. And that makes me nervous...In fact, the biggest elephant in the room was a clash of cultures between the Silicon Valley culture of the free market — and using technology to create a better consumer experience — and Washington D.C.’s inherent cynicism and pandering to constituents.” (GigaOM)

Frank Reed, Marketing Pilgrim

Nobody owes anybody anything in any of this. Companies like NexTag, Yelp and even Microsoft, however, are parading out under the banner of “Representing the Commoners” when all they really look like in the end is the guy who thinks that he should have had Google’s ideas and success rather than the version he has. And they feel that, as a result, the search engine owes them something. That’s just whiney and lame especially coming from companies that have benefited greatly from Google’s search engine to this point.” (Marketing Pilgrim)

Mike Masnick, TechDirt

“The most ridiculous testimony came from Thomas Barnett, a lawyer for Covington & Burling, who was representing a bunch of Google competitors who put together an operation called FairSearch. When asked about whether or not Google was a monopoly player, Barnett flat out lied, claiming that Google is dominant and can't be unseated ‘because it got there first.’” (TechDirt, Sept. 21, 2011)

Matthew Ingram, GigaOM

“Everyone likes to beat up on large companies...but being big is not illegal, and no one (or at least no one credible) seems to be arguing that Google achieved its market size through nefarious means. And simply being unfair to competitors isn’t against the law either. That leaves it to the government to prove that the company is somehow harming consumers by its behavior, and that is going to be a very difficult case to make.” (GigaOM)

Matt McGee, Search Engine Land

“I don't have a problem at all with Google showing its own properties (like Google Maps, Google News, etc.) in search results. Of course it does. The analogy that's been made is a good one, I think: We don't demand that the NY Times show articles on its front page from USA Today or the Wall Street Journal, so why should Google have to show other companies' properties ahead of its own?” (Sphinn)

Hearings “A Kind of Theater,” “Seemed Pretty Misguided”; Lack of Independent Witnesses “Is a Critical Flaw”; “People Seemed to Be Making a Big Deal Out of Nothing”

Greg Sterling, Search Engine Land

"Unfortunately the fact that the subcommittee didn’t include any third party analysts, observers, advertisers or search marketing agencies to testify — in other words (relatively) disinterested parties — is a critical flaw in the design of these hearings. Accordingly they emerge as a kind of theater and not so much a fact-finding inquiry." (Search Engine Land, Sept. 21, 2011)

Erick Schoenfeld, TechCrunch

“The Senators kept trying to define Google and search in 2004 terms of ten blue links that take consumers away from Google. But search is very different today. Increasingly, Google is trying to give you the right answer in the results themselves. And you know who else does exactly the same thing? Bing. Telling Google that it needs to go back to the 2004 version of itself while Bing and others can keep experimenting with new ways to deliver information to consumers would just hamper innovation in search.”

Erik Sherman, BNET

The senators came brimming with television-ready outrage, not any particular desire to ask serious questions of Schmidt...I’m the last to say that Google is “good.”...But, really, making an antitrust violation out of the fact that people like using Google’s search engine? Maybe it’s time for Congress to focus on something more important — like the banking system, the terrible state of the country’s finances, a buckling middle class.” (BNET)

Jeff Jarvis, Buzz Machine

Congress should follow Google's first law: "Focus on customers first." AKA citizens.” (Twitter)!/jeffjarvis/status/116591473759240192

Mike Masnick, TechDirt

“Well, the second part of the Senate's anti-Google hearings have wrapped up, and like the first part, they seemed pretty misguided. It was a lot of repeating things about how Google is big. There were some reasonable points that do bear more scrutiny, concerning some of Google's business dealings with partners, but, on the whole, people seemed to be making a big deal out of nothing.” (TechDirt, Sept. 21, 2011)

Whit Andrews, Analyst, Gartner

“This is just another cycle for Google. It has faced scrutiny before and artfully deflected it through real action and continuing to provide an excellent product.” (The Independent UK, Sept. 21, 2011)