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Barack Obama and General Electric: Why MSNBC and NBC Talking Heads Supported Obama So Vociferously

President Barack Obama and GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt

President Barack Obama and GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt

It is starting to look like General Electric is Barack Obama’s Halliburton.

A “Negotiated Settlement” of the Olbermann-O’Reilly Media War

Yesterday Dakinikat wrote a post on the “negotiated settlement” in which Keith Olbermann of MSNBC and Bill O’Reilly of Fox News were silenced by their respective corporate masters, General Electric and News Corp. Here’s a little refresher. From The New York Times:

At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in mid-May, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, about the feud.

Both moguls expressed regret over the venomous culture between the networks and the increasingly personal nature of the barbs. Days later, even though the feud had increased the audience of both programs, their lieutenants arranged a cease-fire, according to four people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal.

GE and News Corp were concerned that the long-running feud between Olbermann and O’Reilly was hurting the parent corporations’ business interests.

Over time, G.E. and the News Corporation concluded that the fighting “wasn’t good for either parent,” said an NBC employee with direct knowledge of the situation. But the session hosted by Mr. Rose provided an opportunity for a reconciliation, sealed with a handshake between Mr. Immelt and Mr. Murdoch.

But like any title fight, the final round could not end without an attempted knockout. On June 1, the day after the abortion provider George Tiller was killed in Kansas, Mr. Olbermann took to the air to cite Mr. O’Reilly’s numerous references to “Tiller, the baby killer” and to announce that he would retire his caricature of Mr. O’Reilly.

“The goal here is to get this blindly irresponsible man and his ilk off the air,” he said.

The next day, Mr. O’Reilly made the extraordinary claim that “federal authorities have developed information about General Electric doing business with Iran, deadly business” and published Mr. Immelt’s e-mail address and mailing address, repeating it slowly for emphasis.

Then the attacks mostly stopped.

Shortly afterward, Phil Griffin, the MSNBC president, told producers that he wanted the channel’s other programs to follow Mr. Olbermann’s lead and restrain from criticizing Fox directly, according to two employees. At Fox News, some staff members were told to “be fair” to G.E.

Reaction from Blogger Glenn Greenwald

Dakinikat also quoted from Glenn Greenwald’s piece in Salon in which he points out that the author of the NYT article quoted above, Brian Stelter, apparently didn’t understand or perhaps didn’t care that he was reporting on censorship of news programs by two giant corporations.

So now GE is using its control of NBC and MSNBC to ensure that there is no more reporting by Fox of its business activities in Iran or other embarrassing corporate activities, while News Corp. is ensuring that the lies spewed regularly by its top-rated commodity on Fox News are no longer reported by MSNBC….

This is hardly the first time evidence of corporate control over the content of NBC and MSNBC has surfaced. Last May, CNN’s Jessica Yellin said that when she was at MSNBC, “the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this [the Iraq War] was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation”; “the higher the president’s approval ratings, the more pressure I had from news executives … to put on positive stories about the president”; and “they would turn down stories that were more critical and try to put on pieces that were more positive.” Katie Couric said that when she was at NBC, “there was a lot of undercurrent of pressure not to rock the boat for a variety of reasons, where it was corporate reasons or other considerations” not to be too critical of the Bush administration. MSNBC’s rising star, Ashleigh Banfield, was demoted and then fired after she criticized news media organizations generally, and Fox News specifically, for distorting their war coverage to appear more pro-government. And, of course, when MSNBC canceled Phil Donahue’s show in the run-up to the Iraq war despite its being that network’s highest-rated program, a corporate memo surfaced indicating that the company had fears of being associated with an anti-war and anti-government message.

Why did MSNBC Support Obama So Strongly?

What I’m wondering now is why did MSNBC support Barack Obama so strongly during the primaries, and why did they do everything they could to destroy Hillary Clinton’s candidacy? I admit, I bought into the notion that talking heads Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and David Shuster were really huge fans of Obama.

In the light of this latest turn of events, I have to ask, were the on-air personalities at MSNBC really that biased, or were they acting on orders passed down from GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt? Did Immelt know ahead of time that Obama administration would look favorably on GE after they helped him win the nomination and the general election? Is it possible that Clinton wasn’t as amenable as Obama to making commitments to provide financial benefits to GE ahead of the nomination and election? Because Obama’s policies and appointments clearly have been a big help to GE in their current economic troubles.

Recently, GE announced that its latest quarterly earnings were down significantly, but better than expected.

The company earned $2.9 billion, or 26 cents a share, in the quarter, down 47% from the $5.4 billion, or 54 cents a share it earned in the year-earlier period. Analysts surveyed by earnings tracker Thomson Reuters had forecast earnings of 23 cents a share in the period.

While earnings topped forecasts, overall revenue at the company fell 17% to $39.1 billion from $46.8 billion a year earlier. Analysts had expected revenue to drop to $42.2 billion.

Benefits to GE from the Election of Barack Obama

But where would GE have been without taxpayer assistance?

…GE Capital has been most severely hurt by the problems that have dogged U.S. credit and financial markets for the last nine months, causing it to turn to the government for help.

While GE Capital did not receive help from the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, which was used to bail out banks and automakers, it was one of the largest users of an Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. program to guarantee its debt. It used those guarantees on more than $43 billion of the debt it issued.

Even with that help, problems at GE Capital caused the company to lose its vaunted AAA corporate debt rating in March, and to cut its dividend to preserve capital.

Still the finance unit is on track to be profitable this year, the company said…

Hmmmm….that’s interesting. GE got those billions in loan guarantees through the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TLGP).

Since…TLGP took effect last November, financial firms have issued more than $330 billion worth of federally backed bonds and notes at below-market interest rates.

That subsidy has been a sweet deal for stressed-out debt issuers such as Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500) and General Electric (GE, Fortune 500). It gave them access to low-cost funding and helped boost their profits.

Get this. The day after the election, on Nov. 5, 2008, Amey Stone wrote at Blogging Stocks:

while pondering what stock I would buy as a play on the new Obama America, my pick would be General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE). GE has long been a play on global economic growth. It is a huge conglomerate with businesses in consumer finance, media, energy and household appliances — just to name a few. Its returns pretty much track the S&P 500 or other broad market indexes over time (although with more volatility than the index).

Given recent months of financial crisis and worldwide economic slowdown, GE’s stock is cheap. It is trading today around $20 a share, a 50% drop from a year ago. It’s price-earnings ratio is just 10 and its yield is a hefty 6%.

Plus, it is building major businesses in a lot of industries that should benefit from an Obama presidency — wind power and other sustainable energy sources, healthcare technologies, railways. Power generation, aviation and clean water technologies could increase in demand as global growth returns.

There are some potential near-term catalysts for GE — it receives capital from the Treasury to help with its troubled finance unit. CEO Jeffrey Immelt recently said he would be cutting costs next year, which could lift earnings (and hopefully not cost too many jobs).

GE and Obama’s Energy Policies

GE is likely planning to cash in on President Obama’s energy initiatives through their Ecomagination campaign. Stateofdisbelief recently wrote a post on why some liberals oppose Obama’s cap and trade bill, from which GE stands to make big bucks. For example,

Rep. Pete DeFazio (D-OR)

The cap and trade system included in the energy bill is an unregulated market based system, susceptible to gaming by Wall Street. A cap and trade system sets pollution limits (the “cap”) and doles out allowances that can be bought and sold to meet the targets (the “trade”). Carbon credits can be sold as “futures contract” meaning, the carbon credit is sold at a certain price, on a specified date. This is a form of “derivative.” We can look forward to carbon offset derivatives futures tranched into collateralized debt obligation insured by credit default swaps mimicking the recent mortgage trading by AIG and others.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)

“The bill allows 2 billion tons of carbon offsets a year, roughly equivalent to 30% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Supporters of the bill point out that coal use will continue to increase until at least 2020 because electric utilities will continue to use dirty coal, the prime source of pollution.

“With 2 billion tons of offsets per year, we are told that electric utilities will reduce carbon emissions at places other than their generating plants. So they really don’t have to actually decrease their emissions at all when it counts the most and coal fired CO2 emissions will increase. No wonder there are 26 active coal plant applications. Will increased CO2 emissions be our gift to the next generation? Apparently, the planet is not melting; it is just getting better for polluters.”

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA)

The creation of a massive, trillion-dollar new carbon market should scare all of us. The new, highly complex carbon market will be ripe with opportunities for Wall Street speculation and manipulation. The Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission estimates that the carbon market will consist of 180 million contracts within 5 years, making it the world’s largest commodity and derivatives market. The subsequent market volatility will hurt consumers by ensuring that energy prices continue to fluctuate. Market volatility will also dissuade long-term investments in clean energy and efficiency. This is the scenario that has played out in the European Union, where prices have swung wildly and some power plants have actually switched back to coal due to the low cost of emissions permits.

And according to the Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2009, GE’s “green” products really aren’t all that green.

GE said the 80 product lines in its “ecomagination” line tallied $17 billion in sales last year, a 21% jump over 2007 even as most of the conglomerate’s other divisions treaded water or went backwards. GE is aiming for $25 billion in sales in the unit this year, “despite the tough economic environment,” chief executive Jeff Immelt said.

How to explain the success of “ecomagination”? Aside from the growing appeal for everything from wind turbines to efficient locomotives, there are two other reasons. The products GE has certified as part of the “ecomagination” group include plenty of things that at first blush don’t sound very green, and the definition gets broader every year.

Furthermore, Timothy P. Carney writes at The Washington Examiner that most of GE’s income from “ecomagination” comes through government subsidies and regulations.

…closely read the Ecomagination annual report, or carefully listen to the words of Ecomagination boss Steven Fludder, and you realize that it’s mostly through government regulations, mandates, and spending that GE turns green into green. In other words, ingenuity mixed with lobbying gives GE direct access to the wallets of taxpayers, businesses, and consumers.

Lobbying is at the heart of Ecomagination. Scattered throughout GE discussions of Ecomagination is talk of “working with government.” GE was the seventh most prolific lobbyist of all U.S. businesses in this year’s first quarter.

Fludder and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt wrote this week, “ecomagination also has provided us with the opportunity to work with global thought leaders and legislators to craft longer-term policies designed to accelerate innovation and spur action.”

GE donated far more to Democrats in the 2008 election cycle than to Republicans, and they are very happy that Obama won in November.

Ecomagination benefits from Obama’s election and strong Democratic majorities. Fludder, speaking last week at Goldman Sachs Fourth Annual Alternative Energy Conference, explained his optimism for Ecomagination’s future:

Ecomagination benefits from Obama’s election and strong Democratic majorities. Fludder, speaking last week at Goldman Sachs Fourth Annual Alternative Energy Conference, explained his optimism for Ecomagination’s future:

“I like to describe it as a funny thing happened on the way to the end of last year,” he said, referring to the elections, “and that is all of a sudden, green is relevant. And there are some pretty bold decisions that have to be made—and some courageous decisions, in some cases.”

One “bold decision” benefitting Ecomagination was Obama’s passing the largest spending bill in the history of the world. From the annual Ecomagination report: “By some estimates, the total green component of all global stimulus programs now exceeds $400 billion.”

Goldman Sachs runs an alternative energy conference? Is there anything they aren’t into? I’m pretty sure that GE is into just about every possible money-making scheme.

GE and Obama’s Health Care Plan

GE’s Healthymagination program stands to gain from Obama’s health care policies, including mandates included in Obama’s stimulus bill.

May 7, 2009, should be inserted into your calendar as a day of “smart” bandwagon leaping. It’s the day when General Electric launched “Healthymagination,” a generous commitment of $6 billion “to enable better healthcare focusing on cost, access, and quality.” Of this total, half (about $3 billion) is pledged by 2015 to foster healthcare innovation, delivering better patient care at lower cost, with EMR software packages for the public and private sectors becoming an integral part of the mix. With EMR packages in place to a much greater extent than currently, GE targets to improve healthcare access are
likely to be met.

In fact, among the critical need areas outlined by Healthymagination is “accelerating healthcare information technology,” a bullet point that implies proliferating EMR software and could well be the key.

So our medical records will be computerized by GE? Yikes!

And Much, Much More

I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of the connections between General Electric, Immelt, and the Obama administration. Of course, we can’t forget GE’s role in the Great American War Machine, backed by its media empire.

This article at Op-Ed News pulls together more connections between GE and the Obama administration.

With Obama’s Dept. of Justice pick to head the Environment and Natural Resources Division, there can be little doubt the man of “hope” and “change” shills for the worst corporations on the planet. Not only has Obama chosen:

* Monsanto’s Michael Taylor to captain the corporate takeover of our food supply;

* Iowa’s Biotech Governor, Tom Vilsack, who promotes genetically modified organisms in our food supply, as Secretary of Agriculture;

But now he has nominated Ignacia Moreno, defender of environmental terrorist General Electric, as Assistant Attorney General.

How cozy to have Monsanto and GE lawyers working together! Now we can all eat frankenfood produced by corporations that poison the environment. Don’t you love corporate-run government?

As for GE Chairman Jeffrey Immelt, he is a member of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and member of the Board of Directors of the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Here is an interactive map showing Immelt’s connections from those two posts. You can click around to see more.

Another, related question

what are News Corp and Rupert Murdock getting out of the “negotiated settlement” of the Olbermann-O’Reilly feud. If you have any ideas and speculations, please post them in the comments.

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97 Responses

  1. Two men fighting? Bad for business!

    Bigotry towards women? Great for business!

    As usual, Wall Street is about sexism and selling out Democratic principles.

  2. GE’s plans to monopolize the green technology market have a lot do with the koolaid in the watercoolers over at MSNBC.

    • I’d give anything to know if there was a meeting of the minds between Immelt and Obama before he began his run for President. I’d bet there was, and I’m not a gambler.

      • Excellent Post, BB.

        The one line says it all: “It is starting to look like General Electric is Barack Obama’s Halliburton.”

        That has long been speculated, especially by high ranking, retired military network.

        The established military industrialists will continue to get their contracts re specific areas. however they will also likely see cut-backs, such as F22, to provide more work for GE.

        GE will definitely be the Obama Haliburton, with an ever-broadening, multi-faceted, role, and a plethora of contracts in all areas.

        The next question is, will they use an already existing sub-element, or create a new one, to replicate KBR? Or will they simply buy KBR?

        Again, good post, and you are absolutely correct that Obama and Immelt did the “Pretty Woman” thing. “You rescue me and I will rescue you, right back”!

      • OK now let’s simmer down. So, Immelt is so precient that he could predict very very early in the primary season that this Obama character would win — not just over clinton but the large field? Because he was certain of that, Immelt pushed GE/MSNBC “All In” for Obama all the time knowing there would be little “downside” because if another candidate other than Obama won there would be no “downside?” And, he could be confident that NOT A SINGLE PERSON IN THE CHAIN OF COMMAND at MSNBC/NBC would leak word that he was “censoring” the news and had picked a candidate such as Obama to back without reservation? Look. I definitely like a conspiracy. But I prefer my conspiracies to be plausible…. IMHO, this won doesn’t rise to that standard.

        • Are you denying that MSNBC has been the Obama Network for over a year and a half?

          Timmeh, Tweety, Shuster, KO – Maddow admitted it before she drank the Kool-aid.

          Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler has documented their antics – you don’t think they were/are doing that all on their own do you?

          • Exactly! nuf said.

          • I CERTAINLY agree that a good number of MSNBC’s featured personalities (I cannot call them “reporters”) were way too favorable and not sufficiently critical of Obama during the primary and general election process. (…and post election, post inaugural…) But some perspective is useful. Did their efforts “elect Obama?” No. I believe MSNBC has about a million viewers in a good time slot and the vast majority of those viewers were inclined or already supporting Obama by the time of the general. I am questioning whether the CEO made a decision and it was promulgated down the line and everyone followed it because he could predict first that Obama would win and second that GE would need a bailout and that Obama would provide it to GE in some way or another that someone else in that office would not. First, it would seem unnecessarily risky to point MSNBC in the Obama direction without reservation as a matter of strategy because it was unlikely to have that much of an impact on the outcome of the primary contest. Not enough viewers. Not enough influence with undecided viewers. Second, it doesn’t seem plausible that such an undiversified bet would be made by a sophisticated large corporation CEO in a period were the odds of it coming home as a winner seemed so long. My candidate, Hillary Clinton, was considered the leading candidate up until Iowa. Third, if GE had such insight about the economy and other trends to play the political game this way, why didn’t GE have the same ability to turn that knowledge of future conditions into business advantage. Look at their stock value, revenues, etc. They didn’t “win” during this period on the corporate side. Now, MSNBC’s ratings rose by 61% in the period of the primaries. My guess is that an eye to the ratings reinforced some of the on air personalities to become and stay outspoken. FInally, the problem with conspiracies is they require an ability to command and control and maintain tight secrecy that is seldom really accomplishable in either the public or private sector. In the end, while MSNBC much annoyed us, they didn’t much influence the outcome. And I doubt it was a conspiracy directed by Immelt. That’s my two cents.

          • Go read Glenn Greenwald:

            Instead, GE is now openly and proudly boasting of their editorial control over the news organizations they own, and publicly rubbing it in the faces of NBC News journalists that they’re subservient to GE’s corporate agenda.

      • myiq2xu — You quote a blog that is about GE requiring “peace” with Fox. It, of course, has nothing to do with supporting a conspiracy theory that Immelt/GE made a decision very early on that MSNBC would support Obama because it would benefit GE. My point is that such a bet would be a poor and risky bet at that point. You do not counter that view in any way. You point out, indeed, that GE exerts editorial control. I had never doubted that. But I DID doubt that they’d use it at that point in this way. Understand?

        • How are you doing “Rhonda?”

          I haven’t seen you in a while. As a matter of fact I haven’t seen you since the last time I banned you.

          I didn’t miss you then and I won’t miss you now.

    • Have you seen what NBC has done to the Weather Channel since they bought it ? Al Roger will be doing stupid skits and there will be business news!..plus hours of weather history shows. They use to have gasp, current weather and very good environmental programs …. oi. It was a haven on the TV…they had to talk about reality…but trust NBC to find a way around that

      • NBC Universal even turned Scifi into freakin “Syfy”

      • I couldn’t agree more. Every morning I’d get dressed with the weather channel on, now that Al Roker show is soooooo bad, I’m too embarrassed for him to watch it. It’s the opposite of everything the weather channel is and it sucks. Even Stephanie Abrams looks forced and uncomfortable, the complete opposite of her 7:00 am with Bettes.

        I know this thread is probably long dead, but I hate this Roker show.

    • Well, GE Capital needed a bailout, and GE is big into Nuclear power and GE is big into defense too. And GE benefited from financial bailouts, 0bama’s pro nuclear stance and his increase in war mongering with respect to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and of course Iraq…etc. Now why would they Kiss 0bama’s behind?

  3. If even 60% of the people who continue to watch cable talk were to stay away from those channels for just one week (the same week, of course), the country attitude would noticeably improve.

    Watching the way they have created a culture here of jumping on the joyful bandwagon that someone of substance is having problems is getting really old.

  4. To your question about what NewsCorp is getting out of the settlement, good damn question. The main thinking is that they’re getting the same thing as GE, namely removing something, though profit making for their respective hate-talk shows, that was hurting the bottom line of their parent corporation. But since NewsCorp is riddled with hate and fear mongering at many levels of their operations, it’s kind of hard to believe that’s true for them. But perhaps that stuff was so over the top, it was actually hurting the bottom line of their other tabloid stuff. Ha, maybe they think that’s what’s been hurting MySpace.

    • could be in anticipation of a merger of some sort… I mean, why would they call off a feud? They spend most of their of time creating them . lol!

    • I’m going to see if I can figure it out, but I figured the post was already too long.

      • The O’Reilly campaign against Olbermann was helping their ratings, so the motive isn’t helping the TV operation.

  5. GE among a few other megacorporations, especially the ones that make up the military industrial complex, oil, media, drugs, and insurance, have owned the federal government for a long time. Nothing new here. Basically the candidate that appears to have the least convictions and will suck up to the oligarchy the best gets anointed. There really doesn’t appear to be that much difference between what we have and the aristocracies we rebelled against. Except that our population is more pacified because they actually think they have power and a choice. Silly people.

  6. I’ve also read somewhere that GE stands to make billions off of the electronic medical records program that Obama instituted. I forget where I read it, I’ll go look for some links.

    Great post, BB. I think it’s something that many of us have figured out, but it’s important to put it in print and open it up for discussion so that we can start to figure out what we can do about it.

    • The stuff about GE computerizing our medical records is in boomer’s post, too. ;)

      • Oops! Thank you! I read through about two thirds, but then my short attention span became challenged! Please delete my comments and I’ll go back and read the entire post like I should have in the first place!

        *blushing*

        • Nah, I like the link you dug up. The more links on this topic, the better. Since this administration seems to measure things by looking at google trends (see Larry Summers claiming the economy is turning around because the spike in google searches of “economic depression” has gone down), maybe they will catch on to us googling this topic.

        • Don’t worry about it. I didn’t do that much research on it, and I actually think it’s a big story.

    • Well my goddess, there are an unbelievable number of links if you go to bing dot com and put in GE electronic medical records. Apparently, GE is offering interest free financing to healthcare providers to buy its equipment and software because the stimulus money is taking too long…

      http://www.pddnet.com/news-ap-ge-to-offer-electronic-medical-record-financing-061509/

    • I provided a link about that toward the end of the post. But more links would be appreciated, thanks! I found some stuff at right wing sites, but I wasn’t sure if I could trust them.

  7. Yes, we could see that MSNBC went all out against Hillary during the primaries with orders from above. The only hillary supporter on that net Joe Scar was asked to go on leave during the last few weeks of the primaries, if you remember. But I thought all that support to Obama was to beat him in the general and the network would switch to McCain, due to GE’s repub leaning. That did not happen. So the whole thing was pre-wired for Obama, it turned out.

    • Yeah, it sure looks that way, and it’s disgusting.

    • People kept saying wait till the summer, wait til the conventions are over , wait till Sept, ….but the press never came to its supposed dreamboat , McCain’s aid. Hell, even the overt right wing media sat down .
      The upper crust didn’t want Barry over Hillary so MaCain could win. They always wanted Barry .

  8. There continues to be huge numbers of CEOs willing to pay to play this administration. GE lives off the federal that. Good stuff BB!

  9. I’ve said before that no one would pay all that money to Tweety, KO and the rest to act like fools unless that was what they wanted them to do.

  10. Interesting post, bb! I remember another lifetime — oh, maybe a year ago — when I would’ve been pretty sure this was tin foil hat material. Not any more. When the puppets all keep jerking their arms the same way, at some point the most parsimonious explanation is that there are strings attached.

    The only unusual thing about the Billy & Keith affair was that they let the strings show. And now, as you point out, we can start to see them everywhere.

    I guess that’s good, but it sure feels bad.

    • Thanks, Quixote. When I was researching this I was literally feeling sick. I’m sure this has all gone on forever, but it does seem to be a lot more blatant these days. I guess it’s because the media doesn’t even care enough to hush up the corruption.

      • Well, I knew the corporations were running the election when Michelle Obama starting telling the girls at their rallies to NOT work for corporations. We all know the sexism in corporations is huge.

        They want women out at all costs.

  11. Is that Valerie Jarrett in the background? Figures.

    • You can bet your bottom dollar Valerie Jarrett already holds stock in the Chicago commodities market where the millions in carbon credits will be bought and sold, with NO REGULATION.

  12. Great analysis, BB. I’ll continue to follow this with you.

  13. OT: This TNR piece on Obama’s foreign policy team is…interesting, but it’s another one of those pieces where you have to get past the Obama fawning tone to get to the interesting parts.

    http://www.tnr.com/toc/story.html?id=3cec0b39-4950-4a27-9e03-ad8d3a07f52f

    Excerpt

    So far it has worked. Take the example of Richard Holbrooke, whose famed bureaucratic maneuvering and media-friendliness runs directly counter to Obama’s no-drama ethos. Six months in, Holbrooke has caused surprisingly little trouble. He reports directly to Hillary Clinton, doesn’t visit the White House without her (one known exception being when Clinton fell and broke her elbow in a State Department garage, but granted Holbrooke permission to carry on without her), and has generally deferred to her in the meetings there. True, Holbrooke has tussled with Douglas Lute, who oversees the military campaign in Afghanistan at the NSC, over establishing benchmarks for progress in that country. And, in at least one instance earlier this year, Holbrooke received an angry phone call from White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel after the diplomat was perceived to have stepped on Obama’s public message about the war effort. But, in general, one administration foreign policy official says, “He hasn’t acted like a showboat. He’s kept a low profile. By his standards, he’s a pussycat!” A small triumph of process.

    • Speaking of the “war effort,” I heard on Face the Nation this morning that Obama has soft-pedaled his Afghanistan policy to the public, and Emmanuel keeps close watch on anyone who doesn’t play the game.

      Apparently, these journalists speaking, including Bob Woodward (good sources), says he ALWAYS intended to be in Afghanistan for 5-6 years, and intends full nation building. Woodward even implied Obama is planning on doubling the number of troops we have there, in the future.

      There goes your healthcare, budgetwise.

  14. Thank you for this great post! All in one, thanks.

    Bill O’Reilly has been ranting about these Obama/ GE connections since the ending of Hillary’s run. He did say it had to do with making money from energy and more.

    “O’Reilly Claims ‘Corruption': GE Using CNBC, MSNBC to Promote Cap-and-Trade for Financial Gain”

    http://newsbusters.org/blogs/jeff-poor/2009/04/23/oreilly-claims-corruption-ge-using-cnbc-msnbc-promote-cap-trade-financial

    etc.

    I haven’t watched him in a long time but I am bothered that he no longer “educates” the public on these important connections. (Fox News gets such huge ratings, I do wonder why they would stop reporting it. Indeed, why compromise?)

  15. Also note: most of that very expensive new state of the art medical equipment is manufactured by GE: MRI’s, mammography screening, ekg and echo stress, those wands that capture your temp w/o touching you—just some that I have noticed.

  16. Can you spot the empty suit figure head in that picture. Hint, it’s both the men in front. Ah, power. It’s rarely the front people.

    • Oops, spoke too soon. I was thinking of another of our favorite corps. No, Jeff is indeed a major power of GE as well as of course the NY federal reserve.

  17. It would be interesting to find out what O’Reilly thinks about the peace agreement. I think he really had genuine contempt for Immelt and saw him as a man who was destroying a great company. Clearly, the conflict with KO was not hurting O’Reilly.

    One possibility for Murdoch might be entree to the DC circles of Obamaland. Fox has to struggle to get Democrats to appear on its programs. It may be that Murdoch has some media projects that he wants to get by the Democrats and this is a step in laying some of that ground work. I think you would have to look at Murdoch’s operations world wide to have a clue. The other piece of this may well be that Murdoch wants to buy GE out of the media business. I don’t think NBC and affiliates are helping GE’s bottom line all that much.

    • They’re not. Last stockholders meeting at GE, many many stockholders complained about the NBC/MSNBC favoritism shown to Obama during primaries and election, diminishing the brand.

      Really angry confrontations with Immelt, to his face.

      Intriguing thought re Murdoch buying GE out of media business. Just the thought of Schultz, Olbermann, and Maddow working for him, makes me laugh out loud. Not that they would.

      • O’Reilly sent a producer to infiltrate the meeting and there’s some speculation that it was all part of FreedomWorks anti-GE/cap and trade AstroTurfing, or, at least, it all got entwined around the same time. In mid April, about a week before the shareholders meeting, Jeff Zucker and Immelt told Jim Cramer to dial it back re:Obama-bashing and Rick Santelli/Tea Parties at a company dinner. Then, after the shareholder’s meeting, the MSNBO/Fox tea party/tea bagging brouhaha erupted. FreedomWorks/Armey/Axelrove (AstroTurfers) and Microsoft (medical records) are as inextricably tied up in all this as Fox/GE, but, it was likely O’Reilly’s man in the shareholders meeting that brought things to a head, imo.

      • For the right price, they would.

        • You know, jangles, I think you’re right. Media whores, playing the company line, while pretending to “stand for the people.” You’d think if they were so “principled,” they’d be incapable of working for Immelt, or would tell those “people” the truth about GE.

          I never watch O’Reilly, except for the time he interviewed Hillary.

          But if he’s helping Americans understand GE’s influence in and benefits from the Obama administration, then he’s more of a true journalist than Tweety, Keith, or Rachel ever were.

  18. Mary, I’d love to know which exact stockholders stood up to Immelt and told him off. It would be great to have a line to those people some time in the future. I knew the pay off had to be a big one and I wondered about the stock holders when the big year and a half long campaign commercial known as MSNBC was going on.

    I knew it had to do with dollars…nobody goes that far over the top KNOWING they won’t get fired for such incredible jaw dropping bias and spew without good reason behind it.

    This is a great article…chickens are starting to meet roost. It can’t happen to fast for me. I wish I could say it will result in this fake democrat being a one termer but, sadly with thugs like these on his side who knows what levels of tripe they will feed American’s next..and a lot of them will buy it.

    • There were lots of us, Alice, but we had been complaining in writing for MONTHS before the shareholders’ meeting.

      Yes, O’Reilly’s producer was there (he’s a stockholder, too), but many, many shareholders had been complaining before that, given MSNBC’s notorious sycophantic adoration of Obama, and vicious trashing of Hillary. Hundreds of us did so, before O’Reilly even noticed.

      There may have been some astroturf, but most of it was legitimate stockholders sick to death of MSNBC’s lack of integrity in its political reporting. Immelt got LOTS of angry letters for letting it go on too long.

  19. Here’s the Reuters/Hollywood Reporter article on the GE shareholder meeting.

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKTRE53M0CO20090423?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

    It quotes Tom Borelli of the rightwing climate skeptical Free Enterprise Action Fund.

  20. Recession Won’t End Until Year End, Roubini Says

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aQwbwmRnTEsg

  21. This is a stupid question, but isn’t there one Congressperson who will step up and say that collusion between 2 supposedly competing corporations is antithetical to the concept of public airwaves? I know they’ll try to play the free speech card, but if one Democrat and one Republican would get together, couldn’t they haul them up to DC for hearings rather than focusing on steroids and tobacco for a change?

  22. check out no quarter there is a link about the brith certificate and Kenya. seems it might be a big deal. you can link to other sites and they are showing a certificate supposedly from the republic of kenya

  23. I figured, just thought you might want to check it out

  24. BTW The government of Kenya shut its site down

  25. {{sigh}}

    • Probably – but you also want to know if the big shots at GE (stockholders and executives) hold CCE stock under their own names.

      If they really want to hide it they will set up shell companies that hold the stock for them. – corporations provide numerous opportunities to play hide the ball.

    • GE would trade carbon credits through GE Capital , I believe, and I read that they are poised to make billions there if cap and trade passes. I also understand that GE Capital received money from TARP, just not publicized. Also, guess which American company has the most money invested in wind technology and wind farms? It’s not Oscar Meyer! And isn’t is so cozy that Immelt is one of Obama’s advisors on energy policy?

      • YEP. And keep in mind, the commodities market is completely un-regulated. It’s the same market that Enron and Ken Lay gamed, while screwing California.

        Even Obama said “Cap and trade will make electricity prices skyrocket.” But that was before he was for it, because General Electric was for it.

  26. Happy now? Are you glad that this mass transfer of wealth from our pockets is occurring?
    Thanks a lot — for nothing.

  27. From Glenzilla:

    I want to return to the subject of GE’s silencing of Keith Olbermann both because there are new facts I’ve obtained that shed light on what happened here and because this is one of the most blatant examples yet of pernicious corporate control over America’s journalism. The most striking aspect of this episode is that GE isn’t even bothering any longer to deny the fact that they exert control over MSNBC’s journalism. They’ve dispensed with the long-held fiction of the sanctity of journalistic independence from interference by the corporate parents that own America’s largest news organizations.

    • Wow. GE spent $21.5 million lobbying last year for cap&trade and healthcare bill (computer records, of course).

      I thought Obama was AGAINST lobbyists.

      (snark)

  28. Democrats.com:

    Dennis Kucinich came today to Aurora I helped organize the talk. My main message is he was not pleased about HR 676 coming to the floor, he thought it was basically a trap where they were going to kill it and declare it dead ASAP.

    I told you so!

  29. You were right, myiq. It’s kabuki.

    Coulda seen this one coming a mile away, huh?

    Giveaways to banks, giveaways to insurance companies, giveaways to GE.

    The president will need their financial help for his re-election campaign.

    Bamboozled again, our A-listers.

  30. No wonder the media has lost its importance. What is fact, fiction, opinion etc. ? Or could it be propaganda via influence.

    Very worrisome times.

    Dixie Burkhart
    Facts Don’t Matter
    http://www.eloquentbooks.com/FactsDontMatter
    http://www.squidoo.com/Dixie-Burkhart

  31. […] Posts Barack Obama and General Electric: Why MSNBC and NBC Talking Heads Supported Obama So VociferouslyMoanday Morning NewsI'm tired and I don't wanna do itThe Kitty Genovese Case: A Fascinating […]

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