A few days ago, the Google Healthcare blog carried an entry that criticized Michael Moore’s latest film, Sicko, for not providing a balanced view of the health care world. The reaction in the blogosphere was clearly negative, with folks wondering if Google was shilling for pharmaceutical companies. I haven’t seen the movie, so I won’t comment on this point.
However, what’s fascinating is the semi-retraction just published on the same Google blog. The author claims it was her opinion, not Google’s, and then says that it is Google’s opinion that
advertising is a very democratic and effective way to participate in a public dialogue.
Really? Advertising is democratic? As in, one person, one vote? I tend to see advertising as one dollar, one vote, which is anything but democratic. The richest can advertise the most, and thus get to speak far more often. Is there even a shred of democracy here?
I’m not against advertising. Highly targeted advertising like Google’s is, in fact, particularly useful, and I often click through happy that Google is making money off providing a truly useful service for me and the advertiser. But advertising as a democratic process for public discourse? You’ve got to be kidding.