This morning Barack Obama introduced the members of a newly formed Economic Recovery Advisory Board (ERAB). It is a fairly diverse group ideologically, and most people will have both praise and criticism for the Board’s makeup. One of the members, however, has already set off a nerve in what passes for Glenn Beck’s brain.
Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, is a long-time target of Bill O’Reilly’s wrath. O’Reilly has called him a “despicable human being” and has threatened to “get” him. Now that Beck has joined O’Reilly at Fox News, he is standing in line to get in some lumps of his own.
On his program today, Beck started out ranting that the Obama administration has merged with GE, simply because Immelt is a member of the ERAB. He is not even the chair of the Board (that would be Paul Volcker) which has 15 other members. And the Board is only an advisory group, so they have no policy making responsibility. Nevertheless, this is a merger that spells doom for America because Immelt is just such an evil individual in the demented mind of Beck.
Then, like O’Reilly, Beck demonstrates his brazen dishonesty by railing about how Immelt is a failure as the head of GE. Beck’s proof is that GE’s stock has declined precipitously in the past year (what stock hasn’t?). What Beck does not say, though he surely must know, is that Beck’s employer, News Corp, has fallen an almost identical 65% in the past year. So if Immelt is incompetent, then so is Rupert Murdoch.
Now, here is where Beck’s hysteria goes into overdrive. His in-studio guest was Thomas Borelli, a professional mercenary in the hire of rightist corporate pillagers. He is a principle of the Free Enterprise Action Fund – an investment vehicle described on its web site as…
“….a shareholder activist mutual fund (Ticker: FEAOX) that seeks long-term capital appreciation while aggressively challenging CEOs who use shareholder assets to advance the liberal political agenda which threatens long-term shareholder value, the free enterprise system and individual liberty.”
The acknowledged mission of this phony fund is to harass executives at shareholder meetings. The vast majority of the press releases on their web site are missives directed at companies that dare to oppose global warming. Borelli’s partner is Steven Milloy, a climate change denier and a Fox News contributor whose beat is Junk Science. The two of them used to work for Phillip Morris where they fabricated propaganda that dismissed the health hazards of smoking. Now they co-manage this socially irresponsible (and fiscally failing) mutual fund, one of whose top holdings is GE.
Beck and Borelli blathered on about the bankruptcy of Obama’s budget stimulus plan, and Immelt’s suspicious participation, as if either of these economic prodigies had anything useful to add. For the most part, this was an outstanding demonstration of how Fox News casts its programming with ringers who have no real expertise in the issues, but are adept at the art of disinformation. The most interesting part of the discussion was simply the fact that Beck found someone as ignorant and intellectually corrupt as himself to play with.
Update, 7/31/2010: The Free Enterprise Action Fund appears to have been transformed into the Congressional Effect Fund (CEFFX). The mission of this fund may be even nuttier than it’s predecessor:
The fund’s principal investment strategy is designed to invest in the S&P 500 on days when Congress is out of session (not meeting) and to invest in interest-bearing domestic securities or to otherwise be out of the stock market when Congress is in session (meeting). The Advisor believes that the investment methodology minimizes investment exposure and risk when Congress is in session, while fully investing in the S&P 500 when Congress is out of session.
What monumental ignoramus would invest in this? Other than a Glenn Beck viewer who is tired of being scammed by gold dealers, that is.