Drain This: Trump Finds Joshua Wright in the Google Swamp

Eric Schmidt is in the house…again.

According to MLex:

Republican former US Federal Trade Commissioner Joshua Wright will lead the transition team of President-elect Donald J. Trump that is focused on the FTC, MLex has learned.

Who is Joshua Wright?  When they say “former US Federal Trade Commissioner” they miss the part where he served less than half of his term and had to promise to recuse himself from Google matters in order to get confirmed by the Senate.

Re/Code reported last year, Wright exited the Federal Trade Commission abruptly:

Joshua Wright, a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission who has been viewed by some as troublingly pro-Google, is leaving the agency. The FTC announced the news on Monday. When Wright was appointed in 2012, he faced criticism for his positions on Google, particularly this paper critical of aggressive antitrust action. So he recused himself from cases involving the search giant for two years, including the high-profile case [against Google that the FTC failed to prosecute in 2013 and which is currently being vigorously pursued by the European Commission].

Wright was called out by Buzzfeed for some rather bizarrely pro-Google tweets:

William Alden writing in Buzzfeed reports that these tweets are yet more evidence of agency capture by Google of the Federal Trade Commission–it’s indirect, but it’s not fooling anyone:

Google’s allies in Washington have used plenty of subtle techniques to help the search giant advance its agenda.

Now, one high-ranking official has employed the art of the subtweet.

Joshua Wright, a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, posted three tweets…that appear to refer to Google — the subject of a recent antitrust inquiry by the FTC that did not result in any charges — without mentioning the company by name.

Wright’s tweets indirectly defended Google against the results of a damning study by Professor Tim Wu and others that demonstrate consumer harm by Google favoring its own products over those of competitors in search results.  (“Is Google Degrading Search? Consumer Harm from Universal Search.”) See Andrew Orlowski’s reporting on the study.  That study comes at an unfortunate time for Google who is facing antitrust prosecution in Europe (for claims that the FTC professional staff thought should have been brought in the US–before the FTC commissioners killed the US investigation.)

In other words–it sure looks like Joshua Wright is exactly the kind of swamp dweller that one would have expected Mr. Trump to avoid.

Don’t tell me there’s a silver lining because Google will not have as much access to the White House as they’re used to under Obama.  It may not be quite so cozy as it was, but it’s starting to look like Google really is part of the deep state.