House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos threw down some serious shade today. "While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies," he cried, shaming two senior Yahoo officials. Why? Because the Sunnyvale company named names, handing over private information about Chinese journalist Shi Tao's online pro-democracy action to country officials. (Or, as the New York Times so eloquently put it, their "complicity with an oppressive communist regime." Oh snap.) This landed the journalist 10 years in the slammer.
Lantos then demanded Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callahan to fork over a mea culpa to journalist Tao's mother, sitting directly behind them. Which they did. Both of them turning around and bowing to face Shi's mother, Gao Qinsheng, who then immediately (and understandably) broke out the water-works. Awk. Ward.
But Yahoo isn't the only company to get smacked in the rear like this for such behavior. Google and Microsoft have both been at the receiving end of criticism for "helping the Chinese government stifle the flow of ideas in exchange for greater access to the country's rapidly growing Internet market." But they've never had to apologize to someone's bereft mother for having him thrown in the clink. At least not yet, anyway.
image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images, via NYT