Sorry I Forgot Your Birthday, Jerry. I Was in Jail!
If you think our witnesses today are uncomfortable sitting in this climate-controlled room and accounting for their company’s spineless and irresponsible actions, imagine how life is for Shi Tao, spending 10 long years in a Chinese dungeon for exchanging information publicly–exactly what Yahoo claims to support in places like China.”
Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang celebrated his 39th birthday yesterday with a public shaming before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. During a hearing to discuss Yahoo’s cooperation with the Chinese authorities, Yang and Yahoo General Counsel Michael Callahan were pilloried for misleading lawmakers last year about the company’s role in the investigation and imprisonment of dissident Chinese journalist Shi Tao.
Seems the committee didn’t quite buy Yahoo’s it-was-the-poorly-translated-document’s-fault story. “While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies,” said Committee Chairman Lantos. “Yahoo claims that this is just one big misunderstanding. Let me be clear–this was no misunderstanding. This was inexcusably negligent behavior at best, and deliberately deceptive behavior at worst. … Look into your own soul, and see the damage you have done to an innocent human being and his family. It will make no difference to the committee what you do, but it will make you better human beings, if you recognize your own responsibility for the enormous damage your policies have created.”
Seated in front of Shi’s weeping mother, Yang had little choice but to do just that. “I deeply regret the consequences of what the Chinese government has done,” Yang said. “My heart goes out to the family. … I want to say we are committed to doing what we can to secure their freedom. And I want to personally apologize for what they are going through.”
Yang, however, made no promises to provide financial assistance to Shi’s family for what happened.