The reigning weasel of news hackery, Stuttering Jesse Watters, is striving mightily to surpass his personal worst. At the GE shareholders meeting, Watters, who did not identify himself as Bill O’Reilly’s attack troll, or even as an employee of Fox News, commandeered the microphone and began lobbing antagonistic questions at GE brass.
Paul Bond’s column in the Hollywood Reporter reports that Watters asked GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt about Janeane Garofalo’s recent appearance on Countdown. There were reportedly several other “shareholders” who rose to ask questions regarding MSNBC’s alleged editorial slant to the left.
It seems somewhat suspicious that a spontaneous collection of objectivity-conscious investors would arise to complain about one of GE’s most successful assets – and one whose success can be directly tied to the work of Countdown’s Keith Olbermann. Would these shareholders prefer that the network had not increased its audience and revenue by record margins over the past couple of years? One complaint focused on Olbermann’s failure to challenge Garofalo’s remarks. Bond then recounts that…
“Immelt told the assembled he takes a hands-off approach to what is reported on the company’s news networks, which prompted a shareholder to criticize him for not managing NBC Uni more effectively.”
That’s a rather curious complaint. Would they prefer that Immelt intervene in the editorial decisions made by NBC’s news production teams? Were he to do so, they would probably complain that he doesn’t permit the journalists to do their jobs impartially. On the other hand, they may indeed have a preference for corporate executives who dictate the editorial content for their networks. Witness their affection for Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes, who run a tightly partisan operation at Fox News.
Needless to say, this affair will likely end up on the O’Reilly Factor soon, and O’Reilly will use it in yet another attempt to bash GE (his proxy for Olbermann) and assert that Immelt should be fired for his poor performance. As usual he won’t acknowledge that both News Corp and GE’s stocks have declined about 60% in the past year. And he won’t call for Rupert Murdoch’s resignation either.
Update: As I predicted, O’Reilly spent the first ten minutes of his show tonight on Watters’ adventure in Orlando. Most of it was the typical tripe O’Reilly is famous for, but there was one moment in his Talking Points that was priceless:
“This is obviously a major story. When a powerful corporation which controls a major part of the American media may be using its power and the airwaves to influence politics in order to make money from government contracts.”
He is talking about Fox News, isn’t he?