Leading off Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams spun hard for the Obama administration as he distorted Mitt Romney's opposition to the government bailout of the auto industry: "The fight for Michigan as Mitt Romney scrambles to explain to the voters in his home state why he thought the auto industry should be allowed to fail."
Having ignored the fact that Romney called for a "managed bankruptcy" of General Motors and Chrysler in order for them to reorganize and become healthier companies, Williams announced to viewers: "Mitt Romney's in a tough spot....he's working hard to explain why he was against the government's auto industry bailouts. That doesn't go over well in the state we associate with Detroit and American cars."
In the report that followed, correspondent Peter Alexander continued to portray Romney as a foe to the auto makers: "And at a time when the American auto industry is getting back on its feet, as portrayed in this Super Bowl ad...and evidenced by this General Motors plant in Flint adding a third shift last summer, Romney recently renewed his opposition to the Obama administration's auto bailout."
After playing a sound bite of Romney voicing his opposition to the billions in taxpayer dollars doled out to Detroit, Alexander declared: "A position that may not be shared by many Michigan voters." An unidentified Michigan voter ranted: "To allow the industries that made this state, and made this – put this state on the map, go under would have been absolutely ridiculous. It would have been ludicrous."
After Alexander's report, Williams touted an upcoming story on Rock Center, hailing the auto bailout as a great success: "...a story that Peter mentioned, right out of the headlines from Flint, Michigan, where GM has restored that overnight shift at its Flint assembly plant, a sign of recovery after that big government bailout of the auto industry."
In that Rock Center report later Wednesday night, correspondent Mike Taibbi cheered the infusion of government money: "As the new third shift jobs here have triggered an employment boomlet. They say each job on the line means three jobs in support industry. Well, this is one of the places where that conventional wisdom turns into practical reality....Flint isn't just gaining auto industry jobs. Angelo's Coney Island all-night restaurant, owner Neil Helmkay says business is up 5%, maybe more."
Taibbi described the new jobs in Flint as, "a snapshot of a wounded corporate giant on the rebound, with human consequences beyond....after years of struggle and decline, the nights are again filled with the sights and sounds of an industry lurching back to health. Where hundreds more men and women with families can again support those families."
No criticism of the bailout was included in the story.
Following that report, Williams confessed: "As an American car guy myself, raised in an American car family, it's hard to see anything negative..." He reluctantly added: "...but we should probably remind folks of the numbers. What did GM get from the federal government? How much has been given back? And how much of GM do we all still own?"
Taibbi briefly detailed the staggering amount of money the auto company received and still owes:
Well, they got a lot. GM got $49.5 billion. They paid back about $24.1 billion, a little less than a half, that's the part of it that was a loan. But the U.S. Treasury, meaning all of us, still owns 500 million shares of stock in the reconstituted GM. That's worth about 12 to $13 billion right now. So, we're on the hook, the U.S. Treasury's on the hook, for about 12 or $13 billion right now and they don't expect any further payment from GM. That's still an area of debate.
Rather than end on that uncertain note, Taibbi made sure to reassure viewers: "No debate, though, that GM is back on the rebound. They're back, as you've reported, we all have, as the number one vehicle maker in the world now." It's easy when the government gives you $50 billion.