It's one thing for little nonprofit groups like Consumer Watchdog to hound Google for how it handles privacy and competitors. Much trickier for the company: A large corporation like Microsoft, can afford to whisper in reporters' ears, individually.

It's easy to miss this aside in today's New York Times story about Google's lobbying, which has Microsoft flacks collecting intelligence on closed-door Google presentations, so they could disseminate counter-propaganda in real time:

Microsoft declines to comment on its archrival's efforts. But during Mr. Wagner's presentation to journalists in San Francisco this month, Microsoft P.R. handlers, who had learned the gist of the presentation, were e-mailing reporters offering rebuttals of Google's arguments. Mr. Wagner faced a barrage of pointed questions.

See: The Silicon Valley press corps can ask tough question of tech companies; they just need said questions spoon-fed, via iPhone.

(Pic by Hamed Masoumi)