Obama summoned Big Tech executives to discuss “fake news” and methods of censoring “undesirable” voices from the Internet, before the recent purge.
In a private dinner with Silicon Valley’s top elite a few years ago, Obama was way ahead of the curve when it came to silencing conservatives in order to rig future elections.
Mercurynews.com reports: But much less information seeped out from Thursday’s 90-minute dinner, held at the Woodside home of venture capitalist John Doerr, aside from a couple of White House-provided photos. Behind the Secret Service barricades, Obama was flanked by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Ten other titans of tech joined him, as well as his longtime friend and senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett. The gathering had to rank as one of the biggest power dinners Silicon Valley has ever seen.
What is known is that participants chewed on a range of topics, including education, work-force development, H-1B work visas and the elimination of the tax companies must pay to bring overseas cash holdings to the United States. Questions about how Jobs looked — the cancer survivor is on his third medical leave from the company he founded — or even what the menu was went unanswered as participants kept the details to themselves, unusual in a region where secrets frequently don’t remain secret long — even Jobs’ Apple springs a leak now and then.
“I thought it would have died down today, but it’s still going fast and furious,” said a besieged spokesman for one of the attendees who spent Friday swatting away national media requests for interviews.
Longtime Republican supporter John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, issued a very corporate-like statement about the dinner: “I was honored to be part of the discussion with President Obama and Silicon Valley business leaders. Government and private industry must work hand-in-hand to spur innovation, strengthen our economy and get Americans back to work. Our ongoing dialogue with the administration gives us confidence that we can boost innovation and investment in America.”
It’s not surprising those atop the tech food chain don’t have loose tongues, said Larry Gerston, professor of political science at San Jose State.
“The president asks them to meet with him. Everybody lets their hair down. They talk frankly,” he said. “You don’t talk about things in which you have been taken into confidence.”
While all the invitees were tech heavyweights, Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, cautioned against reading too much into who was not at the table.
“You never know who was asked and literally not available,” said Guardino, who was privy to the guest list early, which grew from 10 to 12 hours before the dinner. “It was very short notice, I can tell you that.”
Friday morning, Obama zoomed up the coast on Air Force One to check out Intel’s newest semiconductor factory in Hillsboro, Ore., west of Portland, with the Santa Clara chip-maker’s CEO, Paul Otellini.
“We just had a great tour,” Obama told Intel employees afterward. “One of my staff, he said, it’s like magic.”
Obama also named Otellini — who has been a critic of Obama’s economic policies — to his new Jobs and Competitiveness Council, which will be led by General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt.
The president also pushed spending on math and science education so more Americans could qualify for high-end tech jobs. “Intel is possible because of the incredible capacity of America to reinvent itself and to allow people to live out their dreams,” Obama said. “And so the question we have to ask ourselves now is, how do we maintain this climate?”
During Obama’s visit, Intel announced plans to build a $5 billion microprocessor plant in Arizona and hire an additional 4,000 employees in the United States. Beginning this year, the company has committed to spending up to $16 billion in new or updated chip-manufacturing plants, according to Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy.
The projects are part of Intel’s continuing push to remain the world’s biggest chipmaker by investing in new technology that will keep its chips in high demand. The company, whose microprocessors already serve as the brains in most personal computers, also is seeking to get its chips into a wide variety of mobile devices, where other chipmakers now have an edge on Intel.
Awed by the technology of the world’s largest semiconductor company, Obama quipped to press photographers, “This is why you guys all have digital cameras now. So say thank you to Intel.”