Google has published a bizarre statement joking about eating hamsters as a response to a strongly worded letter from the chief executive of News Corp in which he accused Google of being a “platform for piracy.”
The original letter, sent from News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson to European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, criticised the search giant for allegedly exploiting its position as the dominant search engine in Europe.
Thomson accuses Google of being a “platform for piracy” whose power “increases with each passing day.” He goes on to claim that “the shining vision of Google’s founders has been replaced by a cynical management.”
Hours after the letter was published, Google chose to respond to the criticism. The company didn’t offer a rebuttal of Thompson’s letter, but instead sent the following statement to us:
Phew! What a scorcher! Murdoch accuses Google of eating his hamster!
The bizarre statement is a reference to a 1989 newspaper story from the News Corp-owned newspaper The Sun, in which comedian Freddie Starr was accused of eating a hamster in a sandwich. Years later, it emerged that the story was created by disgraced British publicist Max Clifford, who is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence for indecent assault.
As well as the hamster statement, Google also directed reporters to a blog post authored by the company’s former CEO Eric Schmidt. In the post, Schmidt, defends Google and denies claims that it favours its own products and listings in search results over pages from British newspapers.