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Google on 'Sicko' criticism--'We blew it'

Google says it shows 'Sicko' to employees and offers good health plans after being criticized for corporate blog blasting Michael Moore's new movie.

Last weekend a corporate Google blog raised a stink by blasting Michael Moore's new documentary, Sicko, and offering to help the health care industry defend itself with Google ads.

The blog posting generated much justified criticism in the blogosphere, and within a few days the blog writer wrote another blog entry clarifying that the opinion was hers alone and not the company's.

The criticism of Google was so harsh and unexpected that the search giant also addressed the matter in its main corporate blog. It's not so much an apology as a defense of its actions: "Our internal review of the piece before publication failed to recognize that readers would--properly, but incorrectly--impute the criticisms as reflecting Google's official position. We blew it."

"In fact, Google does share many of the concerns that Mr. Moore expresses about the cost and availability of health care in America. Indeed, we think these issues are sufficiently important that we invited our employees to attend his film (nearly 1,000 people did so)...In the meantime, we have taken steps on our own to address the failures we see in our health care system. In our case, the menu of health care options that we offer our employees includes both direct services (for example, on-site medical and dental professionals in certain locations) as well as a range of preventive care programs. It's one of the ways we're attempting to demonstrate corporate responsibility on a major issue of our time."

The message appears to be: So there! Get off our backs already!

UPDATE, July 5, 5:15 p.m. PDT: An e-mail from a reader who says he is going to write a blog on the Google-Sicko blog controversy has raised an interesting point. He asks me, "Is it CNET's official position that the criticism (of Google) from some blogs is justified? Or is this your personal opinion?" I responded that it is my personal opinion, but it gets me to thinking. Am I a hypocrite in opining on a CNET News.com blog that Google deserved criticism over an employee's personal opinion being expressed on a corporate blog? What do you think?