Last month, a Google employee penned an article about the US tech giant, describing it as a place where “outrage mobs and witch hunts dominate its culture” – something that, as he put it, has become an “existential threat” to the company’s credibility. Google fired Mike Wacker, a conservative software engineer, after he published a post on Medium in which he suggested that the company’s “outrage mobs” and “witch hunts” target both outsiders and insiders, including its own employees, The Daily Caller reported. While the article was penned on 21 May, Wacker was reportedly put on paid administrative leave last Wednesday and fired two days later.
Just a day before his suspension, the software engineer appeared on Fox Business to address Google’s anti-conservative bias, where he reiterated that those “outrage mobs are so hostile”, but even if you “push back on them, they can turn on you instead”.
Earlier today Fox News Talk’s Guy Benson got a chance to speak to Mike Wacker just days after he was fired from Google.
Guy Benson: Joining me is Mike Wacker from Bellevue Washington. He is a former software engineer at Google. He is a conservative. Mike I’m sure this is not the way you would want to appear on national radio but we really appreciate you giving the time to come and talk to us thank you.
Mike Wacker: Some have offered me condolences on being fired and others have congratulated me on my freedom from Google.
Guy Benson: Well so this is this is a really interesting story to me and one that is disturbing to me on a few different levels. Explain to us give us the timeline here of when you got fired and why you were told that you were fired.
Mike 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 its own press release once and they tried to create this weird narrative where it’s like something about like 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 he had no idea what the rules were until the verdict came in.
Guy Benson: And so you put out your Medium post you appeared on Fox Business Network. How soon after that were you terminated at Google.
Mike Wacker: So I was actually called into investigation the day after I appeared on Trish Reagan but it appeared to be connected to the medium post not my appearance on Trish Reagan. And then two days after that investigation I was fired and I 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 arrest statements publicly on his own behalf. You referenced that in your piece. And that was the hook that they hung you on.
Mike Wacker: Yes exactly. Huh. And you you were not aware that simply reiterating that fact publicly would be grounds to be fired until they said you’re fired.
Mike Wacker: Well I looked at their policies and there was one relevant policy and quoted 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. That was when their policies was almost very similar to the Steven Crowder situation where they realized oh well Steven Crowder accident break any of our rules we’re going to kind of invent this new rule and then permits and based off of that it felt very much the same way. Whereas as far as I know it comply with all the written policies. But then they kind of invented this new standard out of thin air.
Guy Benson: So Mike give us the backstory now because this did not happen overnight. This seems like this was a long project where you felt like you were battling against frankly harassment from other Google employees. You were a fairly prominent Republican within the Google ecosystem. I guess you curated one of the Republican chat groups or something internally. When did you start feeling like there were people specifically and deliberately targeting you within the company because of your political beliefs I mean it had been going on really probably for quite some time like I’d been like on a college campus kind of been a minority viewpoint so I was kind of used to some of the rhetoric and I think where it starts taking a dark turn is when these people who kind of spousal this kind of dark rhetoric against view they make all these kind of fabricated allegations that once they start turn those into H.R. complaints it kind of becomes a whole different ballgame. I mean this wasn’t a case of my own. I know another employee who was report to H.R. for sharing a National Review article.
Guy Benson: That became an H.R. event sharing what sharing internally within Google. A National Review article that this person enjoyed?
Mike Wacker: Yeah. That in that case the person didn’t get punished but it’s hard to predict which one you punished and which one will not get your points is almost like playing a game of Russian roulette. To be honest he didn’t. How long have you play Russian roulette.
Guy Benson: Mike how long have you worked at Google because you went to court. You went to Cornell. You encountered some of these free speech issues on campus and as an aside one of the reasons that I feel so strongly about this issue I co-authored a book End of discussion about these outrage mobs that you describe at Google and I think for a long time it’s been simmering on campuses and then the insanity is getting exported into the real world including at places like Google which has so much control over so much information that Americans have access to. You graduated from Cornell.
Mike Wacker: When did I star? I started Google started in May of 2014 I have been at Microsoft before that. So in total that Google a little more than five years.
Guy Benson: And when was it that you first started to get called in or beat basically called out in some sort of public forum for some of your beliefs.
Mike Wacker: I mean really early on. I know there was kind of. We have this thing called means and we just kind of post means internally Google and there were like all these different activists and it was a case very similar to kind of the Masterpiece Cake Shop case where it’s basically like let’s say you have like a wedding photographer. They don’t want to serve a gay wedding and then I just made this meme using the unpopular opinion puffin template where it’s basically saying hey if someone doesn’t want to serve you due to their sincere religious beliefs why not just shake their hand and agree to disagree. And so I made that meme and then next thing I know this was my first year at Google was basically someone who was kind of making employment threats to me both kind of in a comment to that meme and also via email. So I don’t think he filed a complaint to a child but this is kind of happened even in my first year at Google.
Guy Benson: What do you mean by an employment threat? What does that look like?
Mike Wacker: He basically kind of said in a comment it’s like delete that mean before Google delete that and you’re at Google dot com cam by deleting my Google dot com account they mean firing me. They sent a follow up e-mail to me saying Google doesn’t want to have an employment relationship with people like you.
Guy Benson: Huh. So it sounds like you became a lightning rod for this type of thing. But in your medium post it sounds like there were also a number of right leaning almost closeted Google employees who didn’t want to speak out publicly but were sharing information of anecdotes that had happened to them along these lines. Give our audience a sense of some of the posts or comments that got reported to H.R. that resulted in some sort of action whether it was you know an investigation or you know a meeting or all the way up to you know possible sanctions.
Mike Wacker: I know a few of those cases. People obviously kind of more hesitant to talk about that are just kind of had me share them. I know there was one I can share and this is an interesting one was someone got pulled into meeting with H.R. and their management and they got in writing a list of the infractions afterwards. And one of the infractions was that they appeared to be defending Jordan Peterson’s views preferred pronouns and that made the co-worker feel unsafe at work and just for some context Jordan Peterson’s views that the government can’t compel you to use a certain pronouns. So it was probably be like an 8 1 9 0 Supreme Court case if it ever happened in the United States. So this is a very mainstream opinion but you can’t express it because it can make people feel unsafe at work.
Guy Benson: I mean I think it’s interesting that you basically just hinted there that there are other examples that have been shared with you but you’re not at liberty to discuss them because people might be nervous about their own employment at Google is that a fair inference that I’ve made.
Mike Wacker: Yeah that’s a fair inference. I mean there’s one other story I can promise you this one would be safe to tell us. There was just one person who reached out to me about this kind of mailing list for Republicans that I run. I really enjoy reading this mailing list. But I would never dare posting it because I value my career and I guess all this time I was trying to kind of prove this guy wrong. It’s like no there’s nothing to be afraid of. And in the end it turns out that he was right and I was wrong.
Guy Benson: Yeah there was something to be afraid of. I think part of what is galling to me Mike as I listened to your story and I’ve read about it is it would be one thing if the rules were very clear. This actually goes back to a conversation we had earlier on the show with Dave Rubin and to a point that you just made a few minutes ago. If the rules were clear the standards were applied evenly and transparently left and right. And you can maybe grumble and say hey you know I this shouldn’t be banned or this shouldn’t be a problem. But when the left does it they get in trouble and if we do it on the right we get in trouble as well. But it seems like that is not even close to the case and there are instances that you have seen over and over again where people on the left within Google sort of the the dominant majority ideologically say all sorts of things with impunity that are at least theoretically not allowed under the things that you would get in trouble for an absolutely nothing happens to them. Well could you give us a few examples of that and why you know why is it that they don’t even it seems like make an attempt to be even handed.
Mike Wacker: Well I think one of the biggest ones in there was a bipartite story. You can actually go on about the outrage mob against Kay Coles James the press of the Heritage Foundation being on the ethics council and if you find the right parts story they actually will kind of give you a had a transcript of basically everything that was said. I mean it was really egregious to the point where I mean Kay Coles James herself she was she was basically right it’s like she back in 1961 she had been like one of two dozen black children who got integrated into an all-white junior high. And she compared some of the hatred she was feeling at that back then to some of the hatred she was feeling now just because she was someone who had the wrong views on issues of gender identities.
Guy Benson: So just to be clear for people who are listening Kay Coles James is the president of the Heritage Foundation she’s an African-American woman. She’s of course a conservative and she joined one of these councils that Google has. And the fact that her viewpoint was represented on that board sparked outrage among Google ers and they what were they saying. What were they saying about her that you think would be a violation of the rules that you would have gotten in trouble for if the shoe were on the other foot.
Mike Wacker: I mean they called her an outspoken bigot. The one thing the consulate do is they try to misrepresent her points grossly like they were saying things like she was committed to the racing transgender people kind of ludicrous accusations like that at one point someone even said. So the real question to this is whether or not we think there’s value in having the Grand Wizard the KKK on this board. So now this person comparing having Kay Cole James an African-American woman on a sport having the grand wizard of the KKK on this board I was just reading this it’s like why isn’t he not just like why are you getting away with this but like why why isn’t anybody kind of stepping up to say hey this is wrong. This rhetoric has gone too far after the fact that a few people finally admitted Yeah that was a pretty toxic discussion but I didn’t think thing at the time.
Guy Benson: Yeah as the double standards are everywhere so Mike Wacker we only have a few minutes left here. 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 that 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?
Mike 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. Look at the advantages and disadvantages. In terms of career. I’m probably just going to look for another job as a software engineer. I feel like I may have some role to play in this discussion about what do we do about Big Tech. And I’ll probably have some role to play but I think during my normal day to day job I just like to go back to being a normal software engineer.
Guy Benson: Well that is what you were trained to do. Mike Wacker a former software engineer for Google. He’s a conservative. He’s been my guest here speaking out for the first time since he was fired by the tech giant just in the last few weeks. And Mike you know we started off. You made the joke about condolences versus congratulations to me. Its condolences because I think this is a dark chapter and it worries me about a broader trajectory that we’re on as a country. But one thing that I’m grateful for is that you stuck to your guns even though it ended up not going well from an employment perspective at least short term for you. And I really do appreciate you coming on here on the guy Benson’s show and telling the story.
Mike Wacker: Thank you.