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Google's CEO: "Do you believe we have good values?" -- or could they be sub-prime values?

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt met with the New York Times Editorial Board last week, most likely on a charm offensive in response to the Rosenkranz Foundation oxford-style debate about whether or not "Google violates its 'Don't be evil' motto." 

  • David Carr, a columnist for the New York Times who attended the Schmidt meeting and who wrote "Google seduces with utility", asked Mr. Schmidt if he should "be worried that I am putting all my digital eggs in in one multi-colored, goofy lettered basket,  he said. That depends on what you think of our company and our values. Do you believe we have good values?"

Once again, Google is truly its own worst enemy.

  • Doubling down on his companies' 'Don't be evil' motto, Google's CEO is now effectively baiting the New York Times of all people, to stress test if Google in fact has "good values."  
  • Does Mr. Schmidt not remember it was a New York Times interview on May 3, 1987, where then Sen. Gary Hart baited the press corps to "follow me around" if they doubted his values?
  • Could this be Google's -- Gary Hart "follow me around" moment?

The evidence is substantial that Google does not live up to the 'good values' or ethics expected of public corporations.

  • Central to 'having' good values is living ones values day-to-day -- is it not?
  • In other words, can values be publicly self-proclaimed or deemed -- or are they subject to public scrutiny and third party verification?  

What about one of Google's most touted values -- being open?

  • Does Google operate openly? 
    • Is it open to users who want to know what private information Google has collected on them?
    • Is it open to advertiser/publisher customers who want to know how Google's ad auctions actually work? 
    • Is it open to shareholders who want to know commonly expected information? 

What about being a 'good' corporate citizen as is implied in Google's 'Don't be evil' motto?

  • Does Google respect users' privacy expectations or corporate privacy norms?
  • Does Google warn its users when they know they are in danger?
  • Does Google forthrightly disclose known conflicts of interest?
  • Is Google accountable to users, customers or authorities?
  • Does Google respect the rule of law?
  • Does Google respect the property of others?
  • Is Google an honest broker?  

The newspaper that broke the Pentagon papers and the veracity of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, understands the need for stress-testing the assertions of trustworthiness of those on which the public depends.

The newspaper that vigorously investigated the Enron and Long Term Capital scandals understands the serious repurcussions of completely trusting any company which encourages the characterization that they are "the smartest people in the room."

The newspaper that investigated the WorldCom scandal understands the far-reaching damage that ignoring conflicts of interest can have on innocent people.  

The newspaper that is considered the newspaper of record of the Fourth Estate, understands the threat to a free press of ceding its independence to amateur citizen journalists who most all work/depend on Google's omnimediaplatform of GoogleNews, Blogger, Knol, YouTube, and Feedburner. 

Bottom line:

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt is asking the media and average people if Google has 'good values' -- implying if Google does have "good values" Google should be implicitly trusted with the world's information and people's privacy.

If Google's leader claims the reason the seven hundred million people that use Google can trust Google is that they have "good values" -- isn't it incumbent on the Fourth Estate in part to confirm if that representation is in fact true -- especially given that Google is subject to so little competition, oversight, or check and balance of any kind?  

In sum, are Google's values and checks and balances prime or sub-prime? It matters.

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