A far-left Democratic congressman is accusing conservative commentators of improperly -- perhaps illegally -- conspiring with advertisers to shill for their products under the guise of political opinion. The accusers, however, conveniently ignore liberal commentators that do virtually the same thing, only on a far larger scale.
Rep. Anthony Weiner released a report yesterday alleging that Goldline "has formed an unholy alliance with conservative pundits to drive a false narrative and play off public fears in order to sell its products," according to a release. Under "conservative pundits," read the Fox News Channel, and specifically Glenn Beck.
Weiner has this far neglected to criticize Fox's cable news competitor MSNBC and its parent network, which consistently shill for policies that would dramatically enrich their parent company, General Electric. GE's communications arm consistently further's Weiner's own political agenda, so a double standard seems to be afoot in his failure to call NBC out on its colossal conflict on interest.
Washington Examiner columnist Tim Carney has reported extensively on NBC pushing policies that stand to make the parent company boatloads of cash.
GE spends millions lobbying to protect and expand the cornucopia of wind subsidies that includes a "production tax credit" for wind farms, government mandates on utilities to buy wind power and local subsidies. In one case in upstate New York, the GE turbines will be powering a wind farm completed using eminent domain.
GE’s coal gasification, solar power generation, electric cars and biodiesel businesses are the same: Consumers and investors acting with their own money would not patronize these technologies, but Congress, acting with your money, will. GE’s $20 million annual lobbying budget sees to it.
GE has also launched a venture dealing in "greenhouse gas credits," which are literally worthless until Congress starts limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Throw in the expensive but unattractive light bulbs they’ve convinced Congress to mandate, and the pattern is clear.
But the innocent viewer of NBC isn’t informed of the network’s vested interest in environmental laws. He is just fed a parade of beautiful celebrities talking about the virtues and necessity of "going green." If David Schwimmer and Alicia Silverstone can convince you to become an environmentalist, then GE has "grassroots" demand for the federal policies that will enrich it.
NBC's Green Week is perhaps the most striking example of NBC's concerted effort to push the green agenda, and, concurrently, laud policies that would dramatically enrich GE.
I called Weiner's office to ask whether he would also be investigating the conflict of interest inherent in NBC's pushing policies that benefit GE, given his concern about TV personalities spreading hysteria under the guise of political commentary for financial gain. Weiner's office did not return a request for comment by press time.
Green Week is an extensive operation, as Joel Makower, director of Greener World Media notes. The scope of the week's message goes far beyond simple advertisements. The project
involves the full spectrum of NBC properties, including its eponymous TV network as well as CNBC, MSNBC, NBC News, NBC Sports, SciFi Channel, Sundance Channel, Bravo, USA Network, and Telemundo — plus Universal Studios and its related theme parks, and the company's websites, including female-focused iVillage. Dozens of shows will have environmental themes or messaging, from Sami and Lucas' green wedding on "Days of Our Lives," to MSNBC's examination of green issues in the 2008 presidential campaign, to "The Office" (based at a fictional paper company) considering recycled paper, to CNBC's broadcast from a clean-tech conference. Tom Brokaw, Matt Lauer, Bob Costas, and other heavyweight talents have been conscripted into the effort. Local NBC stations will incorporate green-themed stories into their newscasts and some will run a half-hour special on "Going Green at Any Age!" Universal Pictures will run environmental public service announcements as part of its online movie trailers and as ads in theater lobbies.
There's more. You get the idea. Suffice to say it's a full-court press.
And needless to say, it a much more concerted, sustained, and large-scale effort than your average television commercial or on-air endorsement. In other words, GE's subsidiaries do far more to push the green agenda than any pundit does to sell gold to his or her viewers.
Beck postulated on his radio show yesterday that Weiner's effort is part of a campaign to get him off the air. He noted that "three advisors of this president … have launched official campaigns boycotting my sponsors" and accused Weiner of using McCarthyite tactics.
Goldline was also a bit accusatory in discussing the report. “It feels like it’s politically motivated," said CEO Mark Albarian, "in that neither the Congressman nor anybody from his office ever contacted executives form the company to really ask the important questions that they need to ask to understand this business.”
Others were simply dismissive of Weiner's allegations, such as former GOP presidential contender Fred Thompson, who told Politico,
The runaway spending policies of Congressman Weiner and his international soul mates drive up gold prices and he blames talk radio? Apparently, those correspondence courses in economics are letting him down again. Frankly, I am outraged that he thinks me so crass as to use every opportunity to pitch a product ... and by the way, my new book, Teaching the Pig to Dance is in bookstores today, or from my website: teachingthepigtodance.com.