ABC and CBS on Friday skipped any coverage of a congressional investigation into Solyndra and the appearance of its two top executives to plead the Fifth. Only NBC's Today show provided an in-depth look at the now bankrupt green company and the loans given to it by the Obama administration.
Today reporter Lisa Myers noted that taxpayers stand to lose up to half a billion dollars. She explained, "So, images of its executives taking the Fifth today are not the optics the White House had hoped for." Good Morning America and Early Show kept Americans from seeing those optics by not covering them. They did, however have time for a number of frivolous stories.
Instead of Solyndra, GMA devoted a full segment to the online uproar over the new Facebook. Another piece looked at the sixth anniversary of YouTube.
Keeping with the annivesary theme, CBS's Early Show celebrated 20 years of the grunge movement and Nirvana's Nevermind album.
It was left to NBC's Myers to explain details such as this:
LISA MYERS: Another key point came early this year when Solyndra was in trouble and the administration debated whether to pour in still more taxpayer money. In a January E-mail, a staffer suggested it might be better to let the company fail. "If Solyndra defaults down the road, the optics will arguably be worse later than they would be today," he wrote. "Questions will be asked why the administration made a bad investment not once, but twice."
GMA did cover Solyndra back on September 1st. Reporter Brian Ross updated the story on the September 13 and 14th World News. But, even though the network had a scoop, GMA did not follow up after that.
A transcript of the September 23 Today segment can be found below:
MATT LAUER: Top executives from a now bankrupt solar energy company who were given half a billion in taxpayer loans by the Obama administration are appearing at a congressional hearing this morning but they are pleading the Fifth. NBC's senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers is in San Antonio with the latest on this. Hi, Lisa. Good morning.
LISA MYERS: Good morning to you, Matt. This company was the poster child for the President's green jobs initiative. So, images of its executives taking the Fifth today are not the optics the White House had hoped for. Taxpayers now stand to lose as much as a half billion dollars. Solyndra executives personally showed the President around their operation last year. Top executives promised to testify today, under oath, before House investigators. Their lawyers now say they will show up but decline to answer questions and invoke their Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.
FRED UPTON (R-MI): They have now broken their word yet again we're not going to stop until we get all the answers.
MYERS: As recently as this summer, Solyndra officials gave Congress an upbeat report. Now Republicans and Democrats feel deceived.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D-CA): In July, the CEO of Solyndra told me that company was doing very well. They were even going to double their revenues. And a month later they went into bankruptcy. I feel like I was misled.
MYERS: So far the investigation has revealed that even before the $535 million loan guarantee was approved two years ago, there were warnings that the project potentially runs out of cash in September 2011, which it did. Another key point came early this year when Solyndra was in trouble and the administration debated whether to pour in still more taxpayer money. In a January E-mail, a staffer suggested it might be better to let the company fail. "If Solyndra defaults down the road, the optics will arguably be worse later than they would be today," he wrote. "Questions will be asked why the administration made a bad investment not once, but twice."
UPTON: They should have stopped then knowing they were playing with taxpayer money, not funny money.
MYERS: Instead the administration decided to let Solyndra draw down $75 million more in taxpayer loans. And to lure private investigators, it agreed that some investors would take priority over taxpayers in a bankruptcy which is highly unusual. Administration officials say they believe they made the right decision at the time, that giving Solyndra more money may have enabled the company to succeed if solar prices had not plummeted. The FBI is now investigating whether the company intentionally misled about its finances. The company says it did not. Matt?
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