Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee is only the first phase of a long messaging war between the search giant and its rivals.
In fact, Schmidt's actual testimony before the Senate is almost an appetizer for what's going to be a lot of bluster from all sides. Naturally, Senators will want to look tough on antitrust. These hearings are typically marked by a good bit of grandstanding.
While there may be a few fireworks in the Senate, the real battle will be for public perception.
To that end, Google has already published a guide to the Senate hearing.
The guide from Google is a bit predictable. Google emphasizes that it isn't the gateway to the Web even though Senators will portray it that way. Google notes that AOL and MySpace were gatekeepers at one time too. Ouch.
Google's overall message is that it doesn't favor its own content, doesn't tweak search ranking to hurt other Web sites and survives because it gives customers what they want. And when it comes to local content, Google noted that it changed its Place Pages to exclude review snippets from the likes of Yelp.
The flip side of this argument comes from Yelp and others. Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman posted his response to the antitrust investigation surrounding Google complete with testimony and exhibits. Other players such as Nextag are also on the opposing side of Google at this hearing.
At this juncture, it's worth paying attention to all sides. The truth is likely to be in the middle somewhere.
Related: How evil is Google? Your Senators want to know.