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Thursday, April 30, 2009
NewsBusters Touts Misguided Anti-Olbermann Petition
Topic: NewsBusters

An April 29 NewsBusters post by Ken Shepherd touts a right-wing petition demanding that MSNBC host Keith Olbermann give up the raise in his new contract because MSNBC's parent company, General Electric, obtained a "$126 billion taxpayer-funded bailout." Shepard seems unconcerned that the people behind the petition are hiding behind a veil of secrecy.

Nor does Shepherd seem interested in the financial facts of both Olbermann's raise (from $4 million a year to $7.5 million) and the GE bailout.

First, the GE division for which Olbermann works, NBC Universal, is a profitable operation, having made $391 million in the first quarter of 2009 alone with MSNBC in particular credited with "significant profit gains." NBC Universal can very much afford to throw a couple million more at the host of MSNBC's highest-rated program.

Second, the $126 billion figure cited is not a total "bailout" but, rather, more of a credit line. As the Bloomberg article to which the petition links shows, GE has tapped only $41 billion of it. Further, none of that bailout is going to Olbermann or even NBC Universal; it's being used for the company's financial unit, GE Capital which operates independently of NBC Universal.

The petition also ignores the fact that unlike, say, AIG, GE as a whole is a profitable company, having made $2.9 billion in the first quarter even with the problems at GE Capital, which is expected to pass the federal government's "stress test" for financial institutions.

To sum up: GE can afford to pay someone who helps to generate income for his employer in a profitable division even more money, and do so with its own money. Can Shepherd say that about the AIG bonuses?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:22 AM EDT

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