Google to co-host Wilbur Ross talk with news site Newsmax

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google <GOOGL.O> unit will co-host an event with conservative media firm Newsmax on Thursday with U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Newsmax Media’s chief executive officer, Christopher Ruddy, said in an email invitation reviewed by Reuters that Larry Kudlow will interview Ross and discuss “the positive impact President Trump’s policies are having on the American economy.”

A spokesman for Ross confirmed he would attend. Google and Newsmax did not immediately comment. The event will take place at Google’s Washington office.

Ruddy, who founded Newsmax in 1998, is a friend of Trump. Last year, Google co-sponsored a Republican presidential primary debate with Fox News.

The Google-hosted event is taking place as several major internet firms find themselves on the defensive in Washington, amid ongoing probes of how Russia used their platforms to attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook Inc’s <FB.O> chief operating officer, is in Washington this week to meet with some U.S. lawmakers before sitting down for a live interview with the news website Axios on Thursday.

Google is the latest tech company to face scrutiny after it was revealed this week that the company  had discovered Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on its YouTube, Gmail and Google Search products in an effort to meddle in the 2016 election and sow political division.

Google is also working to beat back legislation gaining traction in the Senate that would make it and other online publishers more liable for content created by its users.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Dustin Volz; Editing by Leslie Adler)