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Did GE boss tell NBCers to go easy on President Obama?


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Washington Examiner:

Did GE boss tell NBCers to go easy on President Obama?
By: TIMOTHY P. CARNEY
Examiner Columnist

General Electric, a company largely dependent on government for its profits, and politically aligned with the Obama administration on issues including climate change, embryonic stem cells, renewable energy subsidies, high-speed rail subsidies, and even Russian relations, also owns three television networks. While GE is selling majority ownership to Comcast, it would retain a minority share, and this relationship seems like a conflict of interest.

We've heard stories in the past about some corporate meddling with editorial content at NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC. Page Six reported last spring:

THE top suits and some of the on-air talent at CNBC were recently ordered to a top-secret meeting with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt and NBC Universal President Jeff Zucker to discuss whether they've turned into the President Obama-bashing network, Page Six has learned.
"It was an intensive, three-hour dinner at 30 Rock which Zucker himself was behind," a source familiar with the powwow told us. "There was a long discussion about whether CNBC has become too conservative and is beating up on Obama too much. There's great concern that CNBC is now the anti-Obama network. The whole meeting was really kind of creepy." One topic under the microscope, our insider said, was on-air CNBC editor Rick Santelli's rant two months ago about staging a "Chicago Tea Party" to protest the president's bailout programs

NBC folks denied this, but last night, Charlie Gasparino, who has jumped CNBC for Fox Business, said the story was true:

I spoke with people there, people got called into this meeting, and they were basically, not exactly read the riot act, but the question of whether they were being fair to the president was brought up. I've never heard that before.

If you don't trust Page Six and a Fox guy that GE interferes with editorial decisions, there's this story from the New York Times, in which the corporate chieftains at GE and NewsCorp reportedly told their big guns (Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann) to stop going after one another because the fighting "wasn't good for either parent":

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.

In early June, the combat stopped, and MSNBC and Fox, for the most part, found other targets for their verbal missiles....

Olbermann denied this, but liberal Glenn Greenwald thought the evidence confirmed the Times' account:

[A] review of all of Olbermann's post-June 1 shows does reveal that he has not ever criticized (or even mentioned) Bill O’Reilly since then and barely ever mentions Fox News any longer. And on June 1—the last time Olbermann mentioned O’Reilly—Olbermann claimed at the end of his broadcast that he would cease referring to O'Reilly in the future because ignoring him (and “quarantining” Fox) would supposedly help get O’Reilly off the air (“So as of this show’s end, I will retire the name, the photograph, and the caricature”)

In light of these instances, it's interesting that rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., would go after Glenn Beck for supposedly shilling gold.
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