bears5122 - 6:29 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)
Agree with you Tedster that it does make them look bad if a big brand isn't available in a search. On the same note though, it makes them look like hypocrites when they claim that the guidelines apply to all sites the same. So I'm fine with them giving special treatment to big brands as long as they acknowledge that they do so.
The only reason JC Penny was hit and will likely continue to be punished is because this was an article in the New York Times. It's an article that made Google look vulnerable to a large number of people. Large companies in almost every major industry do this on a daily basis (buy links that is).