WaPo Looks at NBC’s Noncoverage of GE

The Washington Post‘s Paul Farhi has a piece today (3/30/11) about NBC‘s non-coverage of the revelation that part-owner General Electric is making piles of money–and paying no federal taxes.I’m quoted in it.

Farhi breaks it down, and gets an NBC response:

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 $14.2billion in worldwide profits last year, including $5.1billion in the United States–and paid exactly zero dollars in federal taxes.

The front-page story drew widespread commentary in newspapers and on many websites. 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 isnâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢t.

NBC used to do a series called “The Fleecing of America,” which focused on corporate tax cheats and wasteful spending. GE‘s tax trickery would have been an ideal issue to spotlight–if it wasn’t perpetrated by GE, that is.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.