Tuesday during his prime time Fox News Channel program, Tucker Carlson offered an assessment of Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) evolution on Google.
According to the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” host, Lee was once a staunch critic of the tech giant. However, in recent years, he has changed his attitude toward Google.
Transcript as follows:
It was just a few years ago that Utah Senator Mike Lee was a persistent critic of Google. In 2011, Lee grilled then-CEO Eric Schmidt at a congressional antitrust hearing. Before joining the Senate, Lee pushed for a law that would have banned Google’s largest force of revenue. That would be keyword-based advertising. Lee also egged on antitrust investigations of big tech and then accused the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, of going too easy on powerful companies — and good for him.
But fast forward to today. Today, Mike Lee is one of Google’s chief allies in Congress — maybe its biggest ally in the Republican Party. Lee has questioned whether Congress should even bother with antitrust investigations of tech companies. Lee has introduced legislation that would make it harder for the government to block corporate mergers. Lee has complained about the E.U. imposing fines on Google for its behavior.
Lee even came on this program and told that conservatives shouldn’t worry about Google or other tech companies silencing conservative speech online.
What happened? Why the change? Well, it’s possible that Mike Lee just woke up one morning and decided that his previous views had been wrong. Maybe. And yet evidence compiled by the Google Transparency Project suggests there may have been other factors at play here.
Starting in 2013, Google spent millions of dollars rolling out its high-speed Internet service, Google Fiber, in both Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2015, Google hosted a high-profile fundraiser for Lee at its Silicon Valley law firm. The fundraiser got a lot of attention, so Google backed out. But the fundraiser itself went ahead, and Lee received a sizable donation from Google’s political action committee.
Ever since that fundraiser and the money he took, Lee’s interest in having the FTC investigate tech companies seems to have completely evaporated. Google knows there’s more to politics than just donations. So in 2017, they hired a close ally of Lee’s to manage the company’s relationship with conservatives. The Internet Association — that is a trade group of which Google is a part — hired away Mike Lee’s senior counsel from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Google also collaborated with the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, two of Washington’s biggest conservative thinktanks.
The message they pushed was that Google and other tech monopolies are really something conservatives ought to celebrate. These companies are triumphs of the free market. We should be grateful for them. And worrying about their growing power and the ways they use that power is somehow socialist and un-American.
Of course, Google itself is socialist and un-American, so the argument never really made sense. But Mike Lee bought it completely.
When Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg came before Congress last year, he asked them only at the softest of softball questions. And a month later, Facebook announced it would build a $750 million data center in Utah. A coincidence? Maybe it is a coincidence, or maybe it’s every bit as corrupt as it seems.
We asked Senator Lee to come on tonight to explain what exactly happened. He declined. We’ll keep asking until he reconsiders.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor