Last week, we told you about the case of John Wacker, a Google engineer who was reportedly fired after speaking out publicly about what he described as the company's anti-conservative culture. For the first time, Wacker confirmed and discussed his firing on Monday night's edition of my Fox News radio program, the Guy Benson Show. In a Medium post and a subsequent Fox Business Network appearance in late May, Wacker laid out allegations of inconsistently-applied rules and targeted harassment directed at right-leaning employees via weaponized Human Resources complaints. He was informed that his employment had been terminated shortly thereafter. What was the stated rationale for that dismissal? Wacker explained:
Benson: Give us the timeline here of when you got fired and why you were told that you were fired.
Wacker: Yeah. So with these things there's always kind of the stated reason and the real reason. I mean the real reason that's probably pretty obvious by now has something to do with my conservative views. But the stated reason it was really bizarre it was because I'd used this Medium post I wrote. I'd use the name of a Google employee, but just to be clear his name had already appeared in the press several times even issued his own press release once -- and they tried to create this weird narrative where it's like something about me causing harassment of this individual, and that obviously was not my intent at all. But I mean, it was just another kangaroo court and you had no idea what the rules were until the verdict came in.
Benson: And so you put out your Medium post, you appeared on Fox Business Network. How soon after that were you terminated at Google?
Wacker: So I was actually called into an investigation the day after I appeared on Trish Regan, but it appeared to be connected to the Medium post, not my appearance on Trish Regan. And then two days after that investigation I was fired.
Benson: And they told you it was because you named in your Medium post one of the other employees -- as you said, someone I had actually heard or read that name before. This was one of your former colleagues at Google, who I believe had referred to Senator Marsha Blackburn as a 'terrorist' or something like that, and had issued statements publicly on his own behalf. You referenced that in your piece. And that was the hook that they hung you on?
Wacker: Yes exactly.
Benson: And you you were not aware that simply reiterating that fact publicly would be grounds to be fired until they said 'you're fired'?
Wacker: Well I looked at their policies and there was one relevant policy, and according to that policy didn't seem like I'd done anything wrong. But in their termination email, they just didn't invent a new standard that had nothing to do with the actual standard.
What was the alleged policy violation cited by Google as grounds for termination? Wacker's original Medium piece mentioned an episode in which he was formally reported by a fellow employee for "rude, disrespectful, and intellectually dishonest" comments. Who was the fellow employee in question?
In this particular case, that accusation came from the person who called Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) a terrorist: Blake Lemoine. On top of that, in the exact same thread where he called me “rude, disrespectful, and intellectually dishonest,” he also doubled down on his comments about Sen. Blackburn. If someone calls a sitting Republican legislator a terrorist, it probably is not a good idea to treat that person as a credible accuser in disciplinary action against the owner of the republicans@ mailing list.
It is verifiably true that Mr. Lemoine (a) was named in multiple media reports, (b) doubled down on his hyperbolic and inflammatory characterization of Sen. Blackburn, and (c) published his own press release about the incident at Medium. Is Google claiming that Wacker's decision to name Lemoine in his essay (as a means of illustrating a double standard) was a fireable offense? Even after Lemoine's identity and role in the incident had been reported in the press -- and had, in fact, been publicly confirmed by Lemoine himself? If so, Wacker is justified in being skeptical of the company's official rationale for his departure. I asked Wacker if he is considering a wrongful termination lawsuit against Google. His response:
Benson: You have been fired from Google for apparently violating some policy that was unclear to you until you were shown the door because of this whistleblowing, in my view, showing to the American people -- revealing what's going on inside Google -- you no longer have a job. What is your next step? Are you considering any legal action against Google?
Wacker: I think it's too soon to kind of settle on a firm course of action at this point. I would say in general that all options are on the table, but obviously some options are better than others. It's just going to take some time to sort through all these options.
If Wacker's story continues to pan out, and if more stories like this continue to crop up, what could (or should) be done about Big Tech's apparent bias, and the related risk of potential ideologically-driven censorship? Some conservatives make a compelling case that seeking increased governmental regulation or intervention would be a fundamental mistake. Others say that because some of these companies effectively serve as public utilities and amount to contemporary guardians of the modern-day public square, increased oversight or action is in the public interest. I'll leave you with my conversation on these thorny issues with Dave Rubin -- who's wrestled with many of these challenges firsthand:
Regulation and enhanced federal involvement could very well produce unwanted and unintended consequences. Nevertheless, right-leaning citizens ignore these concerns at their peril.