Eric Schmidt made his much-anticipated appearance in Washington D.C. yesterday for the Senate antitrust hearings on Google (GOOGL). Sadly, it was not the show Betabeat was hoping for.
Not only did Congress fail to familiarize itself with how the internet works and seem confused as to whether they wanted to chastize Google or beseech it to bring broadband to their home states. But Mr. Schmidt, who could always be counted on for a wry/terrifying turn-of-phrase during his tenure as CEO, seemed to have been coached into submission.
He did, however manage to sneak in a few quips into his prepared remarks.
First with his opening words, “Good afternoon Chairman Kohl, Ranking Member Lee, and Members of the subcommittee. Thank you for inviting me here today.” That’s more read-between-the-lines funny than funny haha as Mr. Schmidt’s reluctant RSVP was under threat of subpoena. The part where he condescended to Congress like he was Mark Zuckerberg and they were the Ad Board was also mildly amusing, “We get it,” said Mr. Schmidt. “By that I mean that we get the lessons of our corporate predecessors. We also get that it’s natural for you to have questions about our business.” As natural as a child asking its parents why the sky is blue.
But the real disappointment came during the question and answer part of the hearing when Senator Herb Kohl, a Democrat from Wisconsin who chairs the Senate antitrust panel, asked him, point blank, whether Google was a monopoly. As Business Insider reports, Sen. Kohl asked:
But you do recognize that in the words that are used and antitrust kind of oversight, your market share constitutes monopoly, dominant — special power dominant for a monopoly firm. You recognize you’re in that area?
The suddenly press-appropriate Mr. Schmidt responded:
I would agree, sir, that we’re in that area….I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding of monopoly findings is this is a judicial process.