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Report in the NYT claims political vet is working to drag Google's name through the mud

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) learned the hard way in the 1990s that you don't want to be on the bad side of antitrust regulators.  Now it's looking to give Google Inc. (GOOG) a little yuletide surprise -- an invitation to that cruel world.

I. Microsoft Consultant to Consumers: Don't Get "Scroogled"

According to a new report in The New York Times, Microsoft has hired a former advisor to President Bill Clinton to lead the multi-channel effort against Google.   Mark Penn, 58, is the brains behind the operation.

His first work recently aired; a commercial attack Google for (supposedly) getting inaccurate search results.  The commercial quip to consumers is "don't get scroogled".  

Meanwhile, on The Hill, Mr. Penn is looking to make sure Google gets "scroogled" by federal regulators.  He's noisily complaining to anyone who will listen about the supposedly abusive advertising behavior, which he and Microsoft claim Google uses to exclude smaller rivals like Microsoft from the search ad market.

Mr. Penn knows a thing or two about mixing facts and attacks.  He was top paid pollster for President Clinton's 1996 successful reelection bid, helping the POTUS win over certain demographic sectors like "soccer moms".  Afterwards, he kept on the Clinton train, helping with Hilary Clinton's unsuccessful, but high-profile 2008 presidential bid.  He became perhaps best known for his stinging "3 a.m" commercial, which called into question whether President Obama had what it took to lead the country.

The DC vet was only forced out of the Clinton tent after it came to light that he did some controversial side work, lobbying for the government of Colombia.  Mark Penn also raised some eyebrows after Facebook, Inc. (FB) hired him to do an underhanded attack against Google.

A former colleague of the lobbyist/advocate tells The New York Times, "Google should be prepared for everything but the kitchen sink thrown at them.  Actually, they should be prepared for the kitchen sink to be thrown at them, too."

II. Building a "SWAT Team"

Mr. Penn's assembled team in D.C. is small, but efficient.  It contains some high profile names, including a former advisor to the Chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.  The lobbyist/advertising consultant describes, "The concept is to create a SWAT team to work with the product teams on some of their toughest problems.  If any of our competitors say things about us that we don’t think are true, we’re not going to sit on the sidelines.  We’re going to pop them."

He's already been busy attacking Google on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Microsoft is surely hoping that the more aggressive turn breathes some life into its search efforts, which have been bleeding money for over a decade.

Mark Penn
Mark Penn [Image Source: PRNewser]

There are some signs that his efforts are succeeding.  Google is facing several antitrust inquiries in the U.S. and European Union, thanks in part to Microsoft's complaints.  And a recent campaign highlighted that Google is now only featuring merchants in its shopping search who pay it to be listed surprised and angered consumers who were unaware of the change.

That's precisely the reaction Mr. Penn is looking for -- outrage and indignation.  He's well aware that customers currently have a glowing image of Google and a less warm and fuzzy image of Microsoft (in many cases).  But the DC veteran who attended Harvard University with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in the mid-1970s, and who consulted with Microsoft here-and-there through the 1990s is looking to step up to the plate and lead the software veteran's effort to change that impression.

When customers think Google, Mr. Penn wants them to think "scroogle".

Source: The New York Times

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The beauty of American spelling
By CityZen on 12/17/2012 9:47:31 PM , Rating: 1
lobbying for the government of Columbia

I see, you mean the Mayor of Washington, the capital city of the Younited States. Or is it just that you have trouble spelling Colombia?

RE: The beauty of American spelling
By wordsworm on 12/17/12, Rating: -1
RE: The beauty of American spelling
By CityZen on 12/17/2012 11:03:36 PM , Rating: 2
Errr, no

Usage: "The capitAl of the United States of America is Washington, where the CapitOl is located"

So, Washington is the capitAl of the USA, in the same way that Rome is the capitAl of Italy, Kuala Lumpur is the capitAl of Malaysia, and so on.

I'm still amazed at how little geography the average American knows.

RE: The beauty of American spelling
By mi1400 on 12/18/2012 12:44:42 AM , Rating: 1
wordsworm is right and CityZen is trying to shove down our throats an american definition... actually there are 50+ capitals in USA and 7 of them are strugling day and night for secession/breakaway/indipendence from America. I guess hawaii and Texas are at top from those 7 states.

RE: The beauty of American spelling
By Trisped on 12/18/2012 3:51:04 PM , Rating: 2
You should read his post again.

There is ONE capital of "The United States of America", just like there is ONE capital of Alaska, ONE capital of Texas, and ONE capital of Hawaii.

Perhaps you should focus more on the facts and less on your conspiracy theories.

RE: The beauty of American spelling
By nocturne on 12/18/2012 3:43:43 AM , Rating: 2
Don't blame the rest of us.. Blame the author. Every single one of his articles is rife with bad grammar and inaccuracies.

It drives me mad..

RE: The beauty of American spelling
By kleinma on 12/18/2012 10:14:00 AM , Rating: 5
yet you still come, still read, and still comment.

Netscape breathes a sigh of relief
By superstition on 12/18/2012 1:41:50 AM , Rating: 4
Microsoft is defending the public against monopolization.


RE: Netscape breathes a sigh of relief
By NellyFromMA on 12/18/2012 8:46:13 AM , Rating: 1
Cause when Google does it its way better, right?

By kleinma on 12/18/2012 10:17:22 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft learned the hard way about being a monopoly, and they rose to that during the personal computing revolution. They have paid for it with years of fines and oversight. It was an industry of uncharted waters, with an internet that did not yet exist. That doesn't justify it, but the computer tech industry is mature enough now to know this shouldn't happen again. No company having a monopoly is good. Duopolies are equally bad, because the companies are fine just having 1 competitior, fighting a war on only 1 front at a time. The more competition the better, for the consumers.

RE: Netscape breathes a sigh of relief
By Solandri on 12/18/2012 3:46:20 PM , Rating: 4
When's the last time you had to pay Google for anything? If you don't like what Google is doing, it's simple - switch. Type instead of in your browser and you're done. Totally different from Microsoft, where if you wanted to use a PC you pretty much had to buy a copy of DOS/Windows to run the available software. And if you didn't buy their upgrades, newer versions of third party software might not work.

Google's "monopoly" isn't supported by locking people in. If I want to copy all my contacts and mail off gmail to set up a new hotmail account, I can. In fact Google will let me keep the gmail account forwarding mails to my new homtail account - I will not be cut off from emails because I no longer use a address. If I want to remove all my pictures from Google+ so I can store them on Facebook or Flickr, I can. Facebook won't let you mass-download content you've uploaded, and Flickr charges you for their service. If I want Google to stop tracking my searches, I can. Google does not have contracts with certain websites giving them exclusive search access, so using Bing or Yahoo does not mean Google cuts me off from parts of the web.

The only reason to use Google is because you like their service. So if they've got a monopoly, it's because they're offering exemplary service. Not because they've locked users in like Microsoft did, and Facebook and Apple do. If anything, Google seems to bend over backwards to make it easy for you to switch away from their service. That's actually one of the major reasons I use a lot of Google services. I've been burned before by a company locking up my data so I couldn't export it (die Intuit die). Never again.

"But they have a near monopoly on search advertising" you say? When has that ever been a problem before? If CBS dominates the Nielsen ratings, they get the bulk of the advertising dollars. But nobody says CBS should be broken up because their shows are too good and they're getting a disproportionate share of advertising dollars. Everyone recognizes that all the networks are free to make the best shows they can. And if CBS just does it better and attracts more viewers, then good for them.

By NellyFromMA on 12/19/2012 1:05:17 PM , Rating: 1
Dude sorry for having an opinion man. Cry more?

I thought we were passed this
By Integral9 on 12/18/2012 10:01:19 AM , Rating: 2
MSFT, nobody wants your search engine. Get over it.

RE: I thought we were passed this
By kleinma on 12/18/2012 10:13:04 AM , Rating: 2
I use bing, quite a bit. I use google too. I don't like all my eggs in one basket. Google has been well known to skew their search rankings to favor their own products and high paying advertisers. Go to and see which search engine you really like better. When I ran through it, the results varied, but in my searches I typically end up with a tie between the 2.

RE: I thought we were passed this
By nafhan on 12/18/2012 5:24:08 PM , Rating: 2
I would feel a bit hesitant about using an MS website to help me compare an MS product with one of their competitors' products. Even if I could be certain the results actually reflect what I would get from going to straight to the competitor, it's pretty easy to just open both search engines in side by side browser windows.

So... did a comparison test of my own. Both "Bing it on" results are different than a straight Google search 2 out of 5 times (the other three times the Google results matched the Google results). While it doesn't necessarily point to any shenanigans on MS's part, it does indicate that you may not be getting an accurate representation of Google's search results by using MS's comparison tool.

Also, just to be clear, this was not a rigorous test. For the terms I searched for, the results from both search engines were adequate.

Not Again!
By ResStellarum on 12/18/2012 12:39:19 PM , Rating: 2
Microsoft are up to their dirty tricks once again. That's all they're good for - bad mouthing the competition. After all, heaven forbid they have to compete on the merits of their products.

Their desktop monopoly has made them lazy and un-innovative. Instead of patent trolling Android and Linux, running smear campaigns like this, and using proxies to complain to antitrust authorities, perhaps Microsoft should concentrate on making better products. I doubt that will ever happen any time soon though if Windows/Phone 8 is any indication.

Wait wait wait....
By solarrocker on 12/18/2012 9:42:48 AM , Rating: 1
So according to that bad commercial Google shopping search is to be blamed for selling a skillet that some person is ignoring and the oil inside it gets so hot it lights on fire. Does that mean scroogled? Oil lighting on fire because somebody is ignoring it cooking away? So Mircosoft trying to tell me I should use Bing and I will be safe from oil fires?

Seriously, can I sue Microsoft now if their Bing tells me to buy a different skillet and the oil in it catches on fire also? Burning my house down, killing my cat... Or Will I then be Bwindled (word play on swindled).

Now if the skillet melted away due to the fire I would say bad skillet! But the skillet did what it supposed to do, make whatever is inside hot! And it worked great, it made it so hot, that the oil inside lit on fire!

So 5 Stars for Google Shopping actually!

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton

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