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NBC is never critical of General Electric

Just in case you thought Fox was the only corporate media organization with a credibility problem, NBC has, once again, omitted criticizing its parent, GE. NBC pretends GE only does good things on earth, distributes puppies and the like, and isn’t one of the worst corporations on the planet. Of course, facts are troubling things…

Just in case you thought Fox was the only corporate media organization with a credibility problem, NBC has, once again, omitted criticizing its parent, GE. NBC pretends GE only does good things on earth, distributes puppies and the like, and isn’t one of the worst corporations on the planet. Of course, facts are troubling things…

Electricity comes from other planets

It’s the kind of accountability journalism that makes readers raise an eyebrow, if it doesn’t raise their blood pressure first. General Electric Co., reported the New York Times last week, earned $14.2 billion in worldwide profits last year, including $5.1 billion in the United States — and paid exactly zero dollars in federal taxes.

The front-page story drew widespread commentary in newspapers and on many Web sites. ABC News and Fox News, among others, were all over it.

But the story was conspicuously absent from the reportage of one news organization: NBC.

During its Friday broadcast, “NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams” had no time to mention that America’s largest corporation had essentially avoided paying federal taxes in 2010. Or its Saturday, Sunday or Monday broadcasts, either.

Did NBC’s silence have anything to do with the fact that one of its parent companies is General Electric?

NBC News representatives say that it didn’t. “This was a straightforward editorial decision, the kind we make daily around here,” said Lauren Kapp, spokeswoman for NBC News. Kapp declined to discuss how NBC decides what’s news or, in this case, what isn’t.

But to others, NBC’s silence looks like something between a lapse and a coverup. The satirical “Daily Show” on Monday noted that “Nightly News” had time on Friday to squeeze in a story about the Oxford English Dictionary adding such terms as “OMG” and “muffin top,” but didn’t bother with the GE story.

Ignoring stories about its parent company’s activities is “part of a troubling pattern” for NBC News, said Peter Hart, a director at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a liberal media watchdog group that often documents instances of corporate interference in news. He cited a series of GE-related stories that NBC’s news division has underplayed over the years, from safety issues in GE-designed nuclear power plants to the dumping of hazardous chemicals into New York’s Hudson River by GE-owned plants.

What’s more, Hart notes, NBC News has covered corporate tax-avoidance stories before — that is, when they didn’t involve GE. All three networks’ news divisions, according to Hart, have become reliable sources of publicity for their parents’ other corporate interests, doing news stories about upcoming sporting events or new TV shows carried on their own networks.

(click here to continue reading On NBC, the missing story about parent company General Electric – The Washington Post.)

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