There was a flurry of media coverage when US District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson released his findings of fact in the Microsoft anti-trust law suit.
There was a flurry of media coverage when US District Court Judge
Thomas Penfield Jackson released his findings of fact in the Microsoft
anti-trust law suit.
CARMA found that although few newspapers debated Jackson’s finding that
Microsoft has a monopoly in PC operating systems, there was considerable
debate about what should be done as a remedy.
Whether or not the editorials agreed with Judge Jackson’s findings, the
majority advocated that the case be settled out of court. Among the many
newspapers that recommended that a settlement be negotiated were The New
York Times (November 6), the Washington Post (November 7), the Los
Angeles Times (November 8) and the Boston Globe (November 9). All of
these newspapers felt it was in Microsoft’s best interest to participate
in such a momentous decision regarding its future rather than have its
future decided for it by a judge who has expressed such distaste for the
company’s business practices.
Even the Seattle Times (November 9), the leading newspaper from
Microsoft’s home state, published an unequivocally entitled editorial:
’Microsoft must settle this case.’
Although many suspected that Jackson would not be sympathetic to
Microsoft, many editorials noted how harshly worded Judge Jackson’s
Many pointed out that, from Microsoft’s point of view, the judge’s tone
did not bode well for the eventual verdict in the case. The Washington
Post (November 7) observed, ’It’s hard to imagine how the findings of
fact ... could have been worse news for Microsoft.’
The editorials frequently voiced support for the findings, with many
forecasting increased innovation and competition as a result of the
government’s regulation. Among the most rabidly supportive of Judge
Jackson’s findings was the Sacramento Bee (November 9), which wrote,
’Jackson’s findings have outlined extreme abuse, and extreme measures
will be needed to correct that.’
But many of the editorials appeared torn over exactly how to remedy the
situation: several noted that industry developments have outpaced the
regulatory proceedings. And some of the editorials that agreed that
Microsoft had abused its monopoly power opposed breaking up the company.
Others reminded Judge Jackson that any remedy should not only bring
competition but also benefit consumers.
Although Jackson sided with the prosecution in virtually all of his
findings of fact, editorials such as those published in the (Cleveland)
Plain Dealer (November 9) argued that the findings ’constitute an attack
on core principles of free enterprise.’ The Rocky Mountain News, the
Detroit News and the Washington Times (all November 9) also rallied
around Microsoft as a champion of free markets and innovation. While
these views were in the minority, they argued forcefully that the
government should not penalize Microsoft.
Overall, the editorials agreed with the judge’s findings and thought a
negotiated settlement would be in the best interests of Microsoft, the
government, the economy and consumers. But few thought that a settlement
would occur any time soon.
Evaluation and analysis by CARMA International. Media Watch can be found