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Academic supporters claim ignorance of source of funding

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Things aren't what they purport to be in advertisements supporting Microsoft, even if they are what you'd expect. It has been confirmed that the 240 Californian academics who "supported" Microsoft in its antitrust woes by putting their names to a round robin letter pushed by the Independent Institute did not know that Microsoft had paid for "making the support visible" in advertisements in the New York Times and the Washington Post. Simon Hakim, an economist at Temple University is cross, and whinged: "It's not right to use people as a vehicle for special interests" and added that he would not have signed the letter had he known that Microsoft was paying for the ads. Microsoft has of course done a great deal behind the scenes with PR agencies to lubricate opinion. The NYT was up-front and disclosed that internal Independent Institute documents had shown that Microsoft was one of the group's largest benefactors last year, to the tune of $150,000, plus advertisement costs. The proof came in documentation provided by an undisclosed Microsoft adversary. However, David Theroux, president and founder on the Institute, dismissed the idea that Microsoft had any influence, claiming it was "ridiculous". The support for Microsoft is of course mostly political, rather than based on merit, because the academics would be mostly Republicans opposed to antitrust law. Some would undoubtedly also be Microsoft shareholders, which hardly increases their objectivity. So much for the independence of the Independent Institute. ®

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