Microsoft Corporation acknowledged Friday that it had paid for newspaper advertisements that alleged to be independent support for the company during a key phase of its antitrust trial this spring. The embarrassing admission was corroborated by the Independent Institute, which ostensibly took out full-page ads in the New York Times and Washington Post in June as a way of showing its agreement with Microsoft's position in the case. In the ads, the signatures of 240 teachers and other academics were added to a statement that the antitrust prosecution of Microsoft was harmful to consumers.
"We were aware of the letter, and we were pleased to support making that letter visible," said Microsoft spokesperson Greg Shaw on Friday. "This is a position they endorsed irrespective of who paid for and placed the ad."
But not all of the academics agree.
"I would not have participated if I had known," said Temple University's Simon Hakim. "It's not right to use people as a vehicle for special interests."
David Theroux, the president and founder of the Independent Institute, says that while Microsoft did pay for the ads, that in no way affected the opinion of the institute.
"The implication that Microsoft had any influence is ridiculous," he said