President Donald Trump suggested this morning that Attorney General Bill Barr might go after the big tech companies, seeming to confirm rumors that the U.S. Justice Department would soon launch an onslaught against Silicon Valley. The DOJ is reportedly thinking about an antitrust investigation of Google but Trump’s comments today hint that “antitrust” might be a smokescreen for other motives.
Trump spent his morning talking to CNBC’s TV show “Squawk Box” live by phone and said that while the European Union, which the U.S. president called “a fantastic group of negotiators,” is pursuing antitrust action against the big tech companies, his approach might be different.
“The European Union is suing them all the time. We’re going to maybe look at it differently. We have a great Attorney General. We’re going to look at it differently,” Trump said, repeating himself as he often does because his brain is basically just mashed potatoes at this point.
“But when they give European Union 7 billion dollars, and 5 billion and 2 billion,” Trump said trailing off and just naming numbers without context. “And Apple gets sued for $10 billion, and you know, that’s right now it’s going on but they’ll end up settling...”
Trump also said that the EU doesn’t actually care about antitrust laws and viewed the legal actions against companies like Facebook and Google as a pure money-making endeavor. The president also seemed conflicted about whether the EU should be punishing American companies, briefly sounding territorial and defensive, like a mobster who doesn’t like outside interlopers muscling in on his turf.
“They get all this money, well, we should be doing it. They’re our companies. So they’re actually attacking our companies, but we should be doing what they’re doing,” Trump rambled down the phone like a dementia patient who happens to be the leader of the free world.
“They think there’s a monopoly but I’m not sure that they think that, they just figure this is easy money: ‘We’ll sue Apple for $7 billion and we’ll make a settlement or win the case.’ So I think it is a bad situation but obviously, there is something going on in terms of monopoly.”
Trump frequently reveals his true motives when he talks like this, first by stating his true feelings, “this is easy money,” before remembering that he has to use the cover story, “there is something going on in terms of monopoly.”
What could the real reason be for Trump pursuing a case against Big Tech? Trump has previously railed against American tech giants for being “biased” against conservatives and recently called for a boycott of AT&T because the company owns CNN. Trump’s attacks on CNN are solely based on the fact that the news network will report on Trump’s various crimes against humanity without the rosy shine that viewers might see on Fox News.
But it’s not just AT&T and CNN that find themselves as objects of the president’s wrath. Trump has accused Google of rigging search results against him.
“Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media,” Trump in August of 2018. “In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent.”
And more recently, Trump has criticized Facebook for treating right-wing commentators like Diamond & Silk poorly, at least according to the president.
“I am continuing to monitor the censorship of AMERICAN CITIZENS on social media platforms. This is the United States of America — and we have what’s known as FREEDOM OF SPEECH! We are monitoring and watching, closely!!” Trump tweeted on May 3.
The clip of Trump from CNBC is available on YouTube, for anyone who wants to hear Trump ramble on in his own words.
But Trump isn’t the only one going after the Big Tech companies these days. Democratic presidential contender, Senator Elizabeth Warren, has argued that the big tech companies like Google and Facebook should be broken up.
The House Judiciary Committee, which is currently controlled by Democrats, is also launching its own investigation into the monopoly position of Silicon Valley’s most profitable companies. Those hearings start tomorrow at 2 pm ET.
Breaking up the biggest tech companies is probably a good idea. But if you’re Google or Facebook, this morning’s Grandpa Word Slurry may have been sent directly from heaven. We all just heard the president hint that he doesn’t actually care about antitrust violations and that his real motive for going after Big Tech is something else, perhaps perceived “bias” against Republicans. Needless to say, companies like Google just got a great big piece of evidence for their defense.