James Hirsen baselessly asserted in a Jan. 22 Newsmax column that Conan O'Brien was getting federal bailout money to leave NBC:
Are we, the American taxpayers, financing a bailout for Conan O’Brien?
It has been reported that in order to buy out Conan’s contract and cut him loose from the network, so Jay Leno can become the “Tonight Show” host again, NBC will pay out around $44 million. $32 million will go directly to Conan and $12 million will be paid to the late night host’s staff.
What does this have to do with taxpayers?
Remember, although part of a spinoff to Comcast, NBC is still owned by General Electric. Reuters reports that when it comes to government assistance to troubled American businesses, GE is “among the largest recipients of taxpayer help.”
The company, which has been decidedly supportive of President Obama, jumped enthusiastically into a government program called the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TLGP).
Through this program, GE was able to issue debt with a government guarantee, which means you and I are guaranteeing GE’s bonds. It also means easier access to funds for the company and much lower interest rates. Although GE was one of 88 companies in the program, the $60 billion GE borrowed was almost one fifth of the total TLGP guarantee amount.
NBC is on track this year to lose more that half a billion bucks. So, the ability of GE’s subsidiary to pay Conan his multimillion-dollar severance is thanks to us taxpayers.
In fact, as we pointed out the last time someone (NewsBusters' Ken Shepherd) tried to make a similar argument, the bailout money went only to one GE subsidiary, GE Capital, not the corporation as a whole. And NBC Universal remains profitable, so there's no need for it to dip into corporate funds to pay off O'Brien.