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GE vs. Keith Olbermann?

MSNBC-TV host Keith Olbermann, appearing on C-SPAN, has declared that “There are people I know in the hierarchy of NBC, the company, and GE, the company, who do not like to see the current presidential administration criticized at all?.” We don’t know who or what he’s talking about, but it seems as if Olbermann is trying to suggest that the corporate executives at GE and NBC, who presumably have some influence over what MSNBC puts on the air, are breathing down his liberal neck.

In fact, GE CEO and chairman Jeffrey Immelt has become a liberal darling, much like Olbermann, for organizing opposition to the Bush Administration’s position on the global warming treaty. Immelt is hardly a pro-Bush sycophant. In fact, the Free Enterprise Action Fund [1] says that Immelt has compromised GE’s position in the marketplace and its business future by trying to make the company “green,” in order to comply with the terms of a dubious treaty that the U.S. and the overwhelming majority of the Senate rejected.

The global warming treaty, embraced by Immelt, blames natural variations in global temperatures on human activity and wants an international U.N.-style bureaucracy to tax and regulate the U.S. economy, in order to reduce the emissions blamed for the warming. The Bush Administration says the science is questionable and the treaty is unfair, since it exempts industrial giants such as China and India.

Olbermann, a former sports anchor, seems to be in left-field somewhere about what the head of his own parent company believes and has done on the critical matter of enforcing the U.N.’s dubious global warming treaty. In fact, Immelt is planted firmly where Olbermann and his left-wing disciples reside. So the idea behind Olbermann’s ridiculous C-SPAN comments-that he is somehow in defiance of corporate bosses-is a fiction of his own imagination.

Immelt even showed up at Bill Clinton’s “global initiative” conference last year. And Clinton, on NBC’s Meet the Press, praised Immelt [2], which may be why Clinton was on that show in the first place.  

It’s an old tactic. Olbermann is playing to apparent public ignorance about corporate executives. It’s a liberal myth that assumes that because they are supposed to be in business to make money, they have to be conservative Republicans. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even on the political giving level, Immelt is not pro-Republican. While he did contribute to Bush for President, he also contributed to the campaigns of Democratic Senators Harry Reid, Byron Dorgan, Jack Reed, Patrick Leahy, and Max Baucus. This is a guy who plays both sides of the street.

Olbermann is presenting himself as a would-be martyr, supposedly spewing the truth while the anonymous Bush conservatives running NBC and GE figure out how to dump him because he dares to criticize the President. But don’t worry. Olbermann also told C-SPAN that his job is probably secure because if “they [GE and NBC executives] look at my ratings and my ratings are improved and there is criticism of the president of the United States, they’re happy.” In other words, in the final analysis, they’re just interested in making money, he claims. One suspects, however, that Olbermann made these comments because he really fears that his job is on the line. A look at his ratings detects a slight rise but his numbers are still anemic compared to Bill O’Reilly on Fox News Channel. 

The Free Enterprise Action Fund [3] has not expressed any concern about Olbermann’s dismal ratings, which are truly an insignificant part of the company, but it is concerned about the course of action that GE has taken under Immelt. It has submitted a shareholder resolution at the upcoming GE annual meeting (April 26) requesting that GE explain and justify its support for onerous global warming regulations that would not only affect the company but the country.

Steve Milloy of the Action Fund Management LLC (AFM), investment adviser to the Free Enterprise Action Fund, explains in a press release [1]: “Our opposition to global warming alarmism is based on three points. First, we don’t believe the available scientific data indicate that human activity is measurably changing global climate-history shows that natural climate change can be far more significant than any slight change in climate that may have occurred over the last 200 years.       

“Second, even if human activity is altering global climate to some extent, such climate change might actually be beneficial-historically, civilization has fared better in warmer climatic conditions as opposed to cooler climatic conditions.

“Third, even if humans are undesirably affecting global climate, the best path forward may be adaptation to that climate change rather than harming the global economy through the expenditure of hundreds of billion dollars under the questionable rationale that greenhouse gas regulation can act as some sort of  global thermostat.”

By voting for the resolution, Milloy says, shareholders can send GE CEO Jeff Immelt the message that company policy on global warming must be supported by facts, not bias.

Speaking of bias, people can send Olbermann a message by watching another channel. Many have already done so. Olbermann still doesn’t seem to get it.