“Did President Obama save General Motors?” CBS’s Dean Reynolds asked General Motors Chairman and CEO Daniel Akerson as both sat inside a GM plant. On Thursday’s CBS Evening News, Akerson affirmed he did and “the Obama administration did a good job.”
Reynolds pointed out how Mitt Romney “argued the bailout was unnecessary, and that the regular bankruptcy process would have made GM and Chrysler stronger companies. Would that have happened?” Akerson rejected the notion, insisting if not for the bailout “you could have written off this company, this industry, and this country.”
“Instead,” Reynolds, hailed, “GM announced today that 47,500 blue collar workers in the U.S. will be getting profit sharing checks next month, checks of approximately $7,000 apiece.”
Anchor Scott Pelley led his newscast by championing good news on the economy, seemingly eager to advance an Obama-friendly storyline:
You’ve been telling us in poll after poll that the economy is the biggest problem facing the country. So we start tonight with new evidence that it’s getting better. The number of Americans putting in their first claims for unemployment benefits is at a four-year low, 348,000; home construction is up one and a half percent and General Motors, back from bankruptcy, reported record profits for 2011, $7.6 billion. We have three correspondents covering...
Meanwhile, Diane Sawyer was giddy about GM over on ABC, leading World News:
What a comeback, tonight, for an American giant, General Motors, announcing a $7.6 billion profit last year -- the biggest in the 103-year history of GM. And this rebound comes just two years after GM emerged from bankruptcy, with the help of that bailout by taxpayers. Today, factory workers, once afraid of getting pink slips, learned they’re getting bonus checks worth $7,000 each. ABC’s David Muir is live for us tonight, from the factory floor just outside Detroit. They must be feeling great, David.
David Muir began: “They sure are, Diane. And it’s incredible when you think about it this way. This very plant, right outside Detroit, just a couple years ago was sitting idle. The workers had been sent home, laid-off. They had no idea if they were ever be coming back...”
From Wednesday night: “ABC Showcases Chrysler Workers to Decry Romney’s Opposition to Bailout”
From the Thursday, February 16 CBS Evening News:
DEAN REYNOLDS: ...U.S. taxpayers have recovered nearly half of their $50 billion investment in GM when the U.S. Treasury took a majority stake in the company back in 2009. The government still owns 500 million shares and if it wants to sell and just break even, GM stock will have to double in value from where it is today.
DANIEL AKERSON, GM CHAIRMAN AND CEO: They’re a shareholder, just like a couple of hundred thousand shareholders we have. We’re working on their behalf and we hope they get all their money back. It will be determined by them, depending on when they want to sell.
REYNOLDS: GM has 12,000 fewer employees than it did the year before restructuring, and has cut back on pay and pension benefits. But work shifts have been added at three U.S. facilities and two plants here have been reopened.
REYNOLDS TO AKERSON: Did President Obama save General Motors?
AKERSON: Without the money, without the funding, it would have been very problematic. So at the risk of alienating a whole lot of potential customers, I would say the Obama administration did a good job.
REYNOLDS: Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and other critics have argued the bailout was unnecessary, and that the regular bankruptcy process would have made GM and Chrysler stronger companies.
REYNOLDS TO AKERSON: Would that have happened?
AKERSON: Not in my opinion, and it would have been in bankruptcy for years, and I think you could have written off this company, this industry, and this country.
REYNOLDS: Instead, Scott, GM announced today that 47,500 blue collar workers in the U.S. will be getting profit sharing checks next month, checks of approximately $7,000 apiece.