General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt has made nice with President Barack Obama on several occasions. Among other things, he chaired the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which met a grand total of four times in 2011 and 2012 before it was unceremoniously allowed to expire a year later. He fully expected that his company would benefit from its involvement in green energy and its membership in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. He also endeared himself to Team Obama by calling "other U.S. business leaders greedy and mean."
In more than a minor comeuppance, as well as the latest evidence that business-related news reflecting badly on the Obama administration almost never escapes the business pages and center-right blogs and outlets, Inmelt's company has seen its medical division hit hard by the onset of Obamacare. Portions of Bloomberg News's original April 17 report follow the jump.
CBS sided with supporters of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests on Monday's Early Show, bringing on former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold to boost the left-leaning demonstrations, with no Republican and/or conservative critics appearing as guests during the program. Feingold slammed Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain as "un-American" for his critique of the protests.
Near the end of her interview of the Wisconsin politician, anchor Erica Hill raised Cain's attack on the continuing anti-corporate rallies: "Republican candidate Herman Cain, weighing in over the weekend. He said that, basically, it's un-American to protest capitalism. Businesses have to make money, and if they can do a better job making money oversea- it's an unfortunate reality for many Americans- but they're concerned about their bottom line. Can there be some sort of common ground here?"
At the end of his "60 Minutes" interview with Lesley Stahl this evening, GE CEO Jeff Immelt asked her: "I don't know why you don't" root for GE, and by extension for American business, the way company employees do? Did Immelt leave Stahl speechless? Rather than providing an answer, 60 Minutes could only cut to its tick-tick-tick stopwatch. View video after the jump.
This could confirm what many suspected all along - the corporate heads at General Electric (NYSE:GE) would try to use their media holdings to portray President Barack Obama and his administration in a positive light in order to gain a corporate advantage.
According to Gasparino, GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt had "helped his company feast off of the subsidies of Obamanomics," including the green energy initiatives and health care reform. And although Immelt is a registered Republican, Gasparino detailed how Immelt would walk around his company's headquarters saying "we're all Democrats" now at the prospect of government checks going to GE. But later, Gasparino explained how Immelt would use his authority to manipulate the editorial coverage of on Obama for that reason:
On the same day Comcast announced it was buying a 51 percent stake in General Electric's NBC Universal, its CEO sent a letter to President Obama supporting the Senate's healthcare bill.
At virtually the same time, high-ranking Democrats in the House and Senate said Thursday they will closely scrutinize the proposed alliance to determine its impact on the media marketplace.
Here's the letter from Comcast's Brian Roberts to Obama (h/t Politico):
Dear Mr. President: [...]
Because of our announcement today that we have formed a joint venture with General Electric consisting of NBCU's businesses and Comcast's cable networks, I am unable to attend the Summit. I very much appreciate the outreach to the business community, and want to express one of the thoughts I intended to make at the Summit -- that enactment of comprehensive health care reform legislation is, in my judgment, critical to putting this country on a path of sustained growth and prosperity.
As the nation's largest cable and broadband company with over 100,000 employees in 36 states and the District of Columbia, we are proud to offer health insurance to all Comcast employees. But sadly, there are millions of Americans who simply cannot afford to get sick, as health coverage gets increasingly difficult to secure and the resultant demands placed on federal and state budgets are enormous. This cycle is not sustainable.
While there has been much controversy and debate over hundreds of provisions and alternatives, it is my view that the current legislation pending in the Senate provides a workable framework for this country to take an important step toward enhancing health care accessibility, promoting operational efficiencies and technological innovation, and reducing the cost of health care and the federal deficit. My support of meaningful health care reform is buttressed by the estimate by the Congressional Budget Office that, while the Senate legislation would cost $848 billion, it would also reduce budget deficits by $130 billion over the next decade. A strong dose of fiscal responsibility will be essential to achieve meaningful health care reform and lasting economic recovery. [...]
I want to commend you for your dedication to health care reform and for the remarkable progress that has been achieved in this area under your leadership. We cannot allow perfection to stand in the way of critically needed and very good legislation, which is why I support your efforts. Comcast stands ready to assist you and this nation in the effort to enact sensible health care reform. We also look forward to working with your Administration to make health care information technology the best in the world.
Moments after the deal was announced, The Hill reported:
The proposed Comcast-NBC Universalmerger (see earlier post) will be getting some tough scrutiny by the federal government.
Key lawmakers and regulators say they will review the deal in detail to ensure it does not harm the industry or consumers.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Commerce Committee, said the agreement "has the potential to reshape the media marketplace."
"This proposal raises questions regarding diversity, competition, and the future of the production and distribution of video content across broadcasting, cable, online, and mobile platforms," he said in a statement. "It is imperative that the FCC, the Justice Department, and the FTC rigorously assess whether this transaction is in the public interest." [...]
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, said the Comcast-NBC deal "is extremely significant in scope and raises some complex questions."
"My subcommittee will monitor that process closely to ensure that any legitimate anticompetitive and public interest concerns are fully addressed.”
As this alliance has been rumored for several months, it seems quite logical Roberts was expecting Congressional scrutiny.
Is this why he sent his healthcare endorsement to Obama on the very day the deal was announced?
Three years ago, NBC launched a holiday tradition of environmental awareness. In 2007, it kicked off its "Green Week" by turning off the lights during a Sunday sports broadcast (as if turning off studio lights for one minute could mitigate three hours of blazing stadium lights).
The rest of the week consisted of cringingly cheesy, greenwashed TV moments, like the cop on the crime drama Life buying a solar farm in his quest to find the person who framed him for murder.
Sadly, the line-up for this year's "Green Week," which launches Nov. 15, is just as cringe-worthy. Al Gore will appear again on "30 Rock," undoubtedly spewing dire warnings of the Earth's imminent doom. "The Biggest Loser" will coach its participants to buy organic food and bring their own mugs to coffee shops. Dwight Schrute from "The Office" will role play as a character named "Recyclops," and, in the comedy "Community," Greendale Community College will be renamed "Environ-Dale."
They warned back in 2008 what might happen if Barack Obama was elected president, and according to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh and Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck, a lot of bad stuff is unfolding right before our eyes.
Limbaugh appeared on Beck's Aug. 26 program to discuss the threat of the federal government attempting to regulate the media. He explained the president's policy maneuvers were evidence that this can happen - with very limited opposition in the media.
"The stimulus plan - Glenn, look at what they're doing to the U.S. economy," Limbaugh said. "Anybody with a sense of economic literacy would know that this is not how you create jobs. You do not rebuild the private sector. This is being done on purpose. All of these disasters are exactly what Obama wants - the more crises, the better, the more opportunity for government to say let us in and fix the problem. And, with his number one opposition is on radio and Fox News. His number one opposition is on radio. They can't go Fairness Doctrine because it's too obvious. So, they're trying to do this backdoor route with diversity and ownership, a 100-percent tax on operating in order to pay public radio because they're supposedly fair."
Although the ongoing feud between Fox News's Bill O'Reilly and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was apparently good for ratings -- likely more for the latter than the former, of course -- the heads of the parent companies of both networks stepped in recently to end the on-air squabble.
Not only that, but News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch and General Electric's Jeffrey Immelt were apparently coaxed into doing so by PBS's Charlie Rose.
The inside scoop was reported Saturday by the New York Times's Brian Stelter (h/t Bruce Bartlett):
As both Noel Sheppard and I reported recently, General Electric boss Jeffrey Immelt faced a tough crowd at GE's annual stockholder's meeting in April.
First, Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli asked if media reports that Immelt had tried to silence anti-Obama reporting on GE-owned networks are true. During her dialogue with Immelt, her microphone was cut off (it was restored after she continued talking anyway).
It has been something that there have been rumblings about, but no one has really put the x's and o's together entirely - that General Electric (NYSE:GE) is using its media arm, NBC Universal to promote President Barack Obama's so-called progressive agenda for its own financial gain.
However, as just previewed by Amy Ridenour, Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly attempted to do so at the top of his April 23 "The O'Reilly Factor" broadcast during his "Talking Points Memo" segment. O'Reilly outlined how Obama has gotten support from the NBC networks both pre-election and post-election.
"Will General Electric get paid for supporting President Obama - that is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo," O'Reilly said. "As everybody knows, GE, which owns NBC has been very aggressive in helping Barack Obama - first supporting the president in the election and now attacking his critics."