Media Blog

That ABC Infomercial

A good take from Matt Mackowiak:

There are several troubling aspects to ABC’s relationship with the administration. Linda Douglass, a former ABC News journalist, is now communications director in the White House’s Office of Health Reform. The Washington Times recently reported that employees of ABC gave 80 times as much in contributions to Obama’s campaign ($124,421) as they did to his Republican opponent, McCain ($1,550). And a study released this month by the Business and Media Institute found that ABC News had aired stories with positive reviews of Obama’s health-care policy 55 times, while it featured just 18 negative stories on the subject.

But the fawning coverage has not been limited to the broadcast networks. A recent study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs examined all the evaluative comments in New York Times stories during Obama’s first 50 days in office. It found that 73 percent of them were favorable.

Even more troubling is the administration’s relationship with MSNBC parent company General Electric:

General Electric, the world’s largest industrial company, has quietly become the biggest beneficiary of one of the government’s key rescue programs for banks.

At the same time, GE has avoided many of the restrictions facing other financial giants getting help from the government.

The company did not initially qualify for the program, under which the government sought to unfreeze credit markets by guaranteeing debt sold by banking firms. But regulators soon loosened the eligibility requirements, in part because of behind-the-scenes appeals from GE.

As a result, GE has joined major banks collectively saving billions of dollars by raising money for their operations at lower interest rates. Public records show that GE Capital, the company’s massive financing arm, has issued nearly a quarter of the $340 billion in debt backed by the program, which is known as the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program , or TLGP. The government’s actions have been “powerful and helpful” to the company, GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt acknowledged in December.

GE’s finance arm is not classified as a bank. Rather, it worked its way into the rescue program by owning two relatively small Utah banking institutions, illustrating how the loopholes in the U.S. regulatory system are manifest in the government’s historic intervention in the financial crisis.

If Obama can fire the CEO of GM, he can fire the head of GE, too. Shouldn’t all the White House coverage coming from GE-owned media do more to acknowledge that fact?

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