Schultz looks like another MANBEARPIG. He deserves unemployment.
MSNBC, the home of Dysfunctional Evening Talk Show Hosts.
and Dysfunctional Morning Talk Show Hosts
Brzezinski and the Green Nazi Agenda
Joe "Dead Intern in my Office" Scarborough
What do you expect when you work for the largest depopulation company on the planet...
Run until 2001 by “Neutron” Jack Welch, who made it a matter of principle to lay off 10% of his workers per year, the world’s biggest company churns out plastics, aircraft engines and nuclear reactors and media spin through NBC, CNBC, Telemundo, and msnbc.com.
CEO: Jeffrey R. ImmeltMilitary contracts 2005: $2.2 billionDefense-related contributions in the 2004 election cycle: $220,950*
The world’s largest company by market share, General Electric’s revenues in 2003 totaled $134.2 billion. GE was run until 2001 by “Neutron” Jack Welch, who made it a matter of principle to lay off 10% of his workers per year.
General Electric makes household appliances, plastics, water treatment systems, lighting, medical equipment, and commercial financial services. It also makes aircraft engines and nuclear reactors, and keeps criticism at bay with its ownership of media giants NBC, CNBC, Telemundo, Bravo, and, in partnership with Microsoft, msnbc.com. GE’s recent partnership with Vivendi added Universal Studios, USA, Trio and Sci-fi cable channels to its $43 billion media empire.
General Electric is one of the world’s top three producers of jet engines, supplying Boeing, Lockheed Martin and other military aircraft makers for the powering of airplanes and helicopters. The “war on terrorism” has seen GE’s military contracts rise substantially.
But the company’s “defense” side has been doing well for a while. GE and other military contractors got a big boost under the Clinton administration from Presidential Directive 41 which stated that it was the job of US diplomats to promote arms sales abroad in order to safeguard American jobs; this directive tied the promotions of diplomats to how effectively they hocked US armaments.
GE has designed 91 nuclear power plants in 11 countries, yet its nuclear reactors around the world have a fatal flaw. In the event of a nuclear meltdown, there is a 90 percent chance that radiation from GE-designed reactors would be discharged directly into the atmosphere. While the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is aware of the problem, it continues to license GE nuclear reactors. GE’s history with nuclear power is an ugly one.
In the 1940s-1960s the company ran experiments on humans with radiation, including irradiating the reproductive organs of prison inmates in Walla Walla, Washington, without warning them of the risk of cancer. Other tests were run on the elderly and hospital patients. General Electric intentionally released large amounts of radiation into the air from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Richland, in order to see the distance it would travel. These atrocities were revealed in hearings in 1986 held by Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts.
The company has also been accused of knowingly poisoning its workers at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Schenectady, New York with radiation and asbestos.
General Electric is currently attempting to overturn the US Superfund Law of 1980, which allows the government to hold polluters responsible for cleaning up their toxic chemicals. GE argues that it is “unconstitutional” for the Environmental Protection Agency to force the company to pay $500 million for the cleanup of the Hudson River, where GE dumped carcinogenic PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, over three decades. In March 2004, a federal appeals court has revived GE’s lawsuit. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that GE is trying to change the Superfund Law: the company is responsible for 78 Superfund sites around the US. It’s clearly not safe to be a worker for GE either. The US government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, has cited the company for 858 workplace safety violations from 1990-2001.
General Electric has been involved in so many cases of fraud that in the 1990s the Pentagon's Defense Contract Management Agency created a special investigations office specifically for the company, which indicted GE on 22 criminal counts and recovered $221.7 million. In one case, in 1992, GE entered a guilty plea to criminal and civil charges for defrauding the Pentagon in a case where money was funneled to the Israeli military. GE was fined $69 million for violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
GE’s financial division has been another area ripe for fraud. GE was fined $100 million for trying to get bankrupt creditors to pay without informing the bankruptcy courts, in effect paying debts that they no longer legally owed. Not surprisingly, General Electric is the financial backer of WorldCom, the telecom company whose massive fraud and creative accounting led to the largest bankruptcy in US history.The company has been involved in countless scandals, but strangely enough, they don’t seem to affect General Electric’s ability to win government contracts
– but then, this is typical of all military contractors. According to a survey by the Center for Public Integrity, from 1990-2002, 30 of the US government’s top contractors were found guilty of fraud in 400 cases, leading to settlements and fines amounting to at least $3.4 billion. General Electric paid $982.9 million for 63 cases in this period.
Such repeated behavior and continued contracts wouldn’t be possible without friends in high places, of which General Electric. GE spent more than $31 million in 2001 and 2002 lobbying lawmakers; in 2000 it spent $16 million. Reigning CEO Jack Welch had enormous influence and was consistently ranked CEO of the Year by the slavish business press; he was major Republican donor as well. GE director Sam Nunn was senator for Georgia for 27 years, and also sits on the boards of ChevronTexaco. GE’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel and Secretary, Benjamin W. Heineman, used to work for the US government’s Department of Health, Education and Welfare. General Electric's defense sector gave $221,200 to political campaigns in the 2004 election cycle, with 50 percent going to Democrats and 50 percent to Republicans.
*Source: opensecrets.orgGeneral Electric
Fair Finance Watch
United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)
GE Workers United
EnviroHealthAction US: Energy Group Plans to Build Nuclear Plants in Gulf States
by Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times
September 23rd, 2005
A consortium of eight companies said on Thursday that it would spend about $100 million to prepare applications to build two nuclear reactors, in Mississippi and Alabama, a step that seems to move the industry closer to its first new reactor order since the 1970's.US: Court Revives GE Challenge of Superfund Law
by Devlin Barrett, Associated Press
March 4th, 2004
A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the 1980 Superfund law that allows the government to assess polluters for cleaning up toxic waste sites. US: Big Media Gets Bigger
by Bill Moyers, NOW with Bill Moyers on PBS
October 10th, 2003
Big media companies keep getting bigger – with more and more power over our lives. This week's deal between General Electric (GE) and Vivendi means that GE'S NBC, which helped elect Arnold Schwarzenegger Governor of California
, has just picked up not only Universal Studios, but the USA, Trio and Sci-fi cable channels, to go with CNBC and MSNBC, all now part of a $43 billion dollar empire. US: The Case Against General Electric
August 1st, 2001
General Electric has a lengthy record of criminal, civil, political and ethical transgressions, some of them shocking in disregard for the integrity of human beings. This article will list a few examples. World: General Electric's Global Assault
by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, Mother Jones
May 26th, 2000
While the 20-reign of General Electric's CEO has been a golden era for shareholders - the company's stock value has risen three time more than the Dow Jones average, leading Forbes magazine to name Welch the "Most Admired CEO of the Century" - it has been a disaster for employees. US: General Electric Expose Garners an Oscar
by Megan Rosenfeld, Washington Post
April 23rd, 1992
Chasnoff's film indicts the multi-billion-dollar corporation on two counts: failing to clean up the site of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, and knowingly poisoning workers with asbestos and radiation at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Schenectady, N.Y. Scenes of Hanford area residents who have had or know of birth defects and cancer are juxtaposed with the familiar jingle: "GE: We bring good things to life."
General Electric Makes it to the top war profiteers list:
Top Military Contractors/War Profiteers
The following companies are the top 10 recipients of U.S. military dollars.
David J. Lesar, CEO, Kellogg, Brown & Root (subsidiary of Halliburton )
2003 military contracts revenue: $3.9 billion
Runs US military bases in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Djibouti, Georgia, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey and Uzbekistan, built Guantanamo Bay, Cuba prisons, South Vietnam & Diego Garcia military bases
Vance D. Coffman, CEO, Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Maryland.
2002 Salary: $25.3 million
Campaign Contributions in 2002: $9.7 million, Military Contracts 2000-2003: $69.1 billion,
Products: F-16, F/A-22 jet fighters, C-130J air transport, Hellfire, Javelin missiles
Philip M. Condit, CEO, Boeing of Chicago, Illinois
2002 Salary: $4.1 million
Campaign Contributions in 2002: $1.6 million, Military Contracts 2000-2003: $60 billion
Products: F-15 fighter, C-17 air transport, Apache Helicopter, JDAM "smart" bombs
William H. Swanson, CEO, Raytheon of Lexington, Massachusetts.
2002 Salary: $8.9 million, Military contracts 2000-2002: $27.5 billion
Products: Patriot & Tomahawk missiles, "Bunker Buster" bomb
Ronald Sugar, CEO, Northrop Grumman of Los Angeles, CA
2002 Salary: $1.5 million, military contracts 2000-2002: $34.6 billion (including TRW)
Products: B-2 stealth bomber, amphibious assault ships
Nicholas D Chabraja, CEO, General Dynamics of Fall Church, Virginia
2002 Salary: $15.2 million
Campaign Contributions in 2002: $1.64 million, Military Contracts 2000-2002: $25 billion
Products: Abrams M1 tanks, Trident submarines
George David, CEO, United Technologies of Hartford, Connecticut
2002 Salary: $9.7 million, Military contracts 2000-2002: $9.8 billion
Products: Black Hawk, Sea Hawk, Comanche helicoptersJohn F. Welch, Jr., CEO, General Electric of Fairfield. Connecticut
2002 Salary: $15.1 million
Campaign Contributions in 2002: $221,350,
Military Contracts 2000-2003: $7.7 billion
Products: Aircraft engines, nuclear reactors, NBC news, msnbc.com
Paul V. Lombardi, CEO, DynCorp
Owned by Computer Sciences Corporation of El Segundo, California
Campaign Contributions in 2002: $221,350, Military Contracts 2000-2003: $5.5 billion
Products: Rent-a-cops in Afghanistan, Bosnia & Iraq, US-Mexico border, defoliation missions in Colombia.
General Electric's ownership of the NBC TV network has been in the news in recent months. As Extra! went to press, companies like Time Warner, Disney, ITT and Turner Broadcasting have reportedly been negotiating to either buy NBC outright or enter into some kind of partnership with GE. But a little-noted aspect of communications law raises questions about GE's ownership of NBC's broadcast licenses -- and its ability to sell those licenses to another company.
The Federal Communications Act of 1934 created the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the airwaves, which are considered public property. The act states that the FCC should assess the "character...of the applicant to operate the station," and ensure that the "public interest...would be served by the granting" of a license.
Despite a general decline in the FCC's enforcement of the public interest aspect of this law, there is at least one factor that the FCC still considers before granting a license: whether the applicant has committed a felony.
In 1989, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, complained of FCC laxness in examining felons (Broadcasting, 1/1/90); his office said the policy "represents one of the excesses of the last eight years." This apparently led the FCC to issue a statement saying it would "consider all felony convictions," as well as "misdemeanors in certain circumstances," as factors in granting or renewing broadcast licenses. This announcement toughened a policy that had been weakened in 1985.
Shortly thereafter, the FCC revoked the broadcast license of WFXL-TV in Georgia because the license-holder was an individual convicted of laundering drug money. The FCC also denied the licensee's appeals to be able to sell the station, forcing him to forfeit his investment (Broadcasting, 8/12/91).
Not all felons have been treated so harshly. Alan Gottlieb, an anti-environmental, pro-gun activist who helped raise money for the 1988 Bush/Quayle campaign, was convicted of tax evasion in the mid-'80s. Though he was denied a gun permit for a time, he was granted the license for KBNP in Portland, Ore. in 1989.
Gottlieb, who also owns a chunk of the Talk America radio network, told Extra! that he disclosed his felony conviction to the FCC, but they still allowed him to purchase the station; apparently he convinced the FCC that his felony was due to a record-keeping mistake. To Gottlieb's knowledge, no one has contested his license.
A corporation, like an individual, can also lose its license on character grounds. "If you're going to permit corporate licenses in the first place -- which is questionable -- you've got to apply the same standard" to corporations and individuals, former FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson told Extra!.
Broadcasting reported in 1991 (3/25/91) that "the FCC was considering holding license revocation hearings" for WNCN-FM in New York after its parent company, GAF, was convicted of securities fraud. The FCC dropped the matter after the conviction was overturned on appeal.
Even without a felony conviction, a corporate entity can lose its license because of character questions. In a prolonged case, the FCC decided not to renew the licenses of 14 of the TV and radio stations owned by RKO General, a subsidiary of General Tire (now GenCorp). "The FCC decision was not based on the quality of broadcast service...but on the question of RKO's corporate integrity," Fortune noted (4/21/80). "General Tire was maintaining slush funds for such uses as improper overseas payments and questionable campaign contributions," Time later reported (8/24/87), and "allegedly filed false and misleading financial statements." Of particular concern was RKO's lack of candor in reporting these wrongdoings to the FCC.
RKO was stripped of one station (Boston's WNAC-TV) without compensation,and was forced to sell other stations for less than full market value, resulting in major financial losses.
These cases would pale in significance if the FCC applied the "character question" to NBC's parent. As the owner of the network, GE controls the licenses for NBC's six owned-and-operated TV affiliates. These stations,located in key markets, are worth an estimated $2.5 billion.
But these assets could be threatened if the FCC ruled that GE's criminal record -- including a host of fraud, environmental, financial and employment violations -- made the corporation unfit to hold broadcasting licenses. (See Extra!, 6/92.) As William Greider writes (Rolling Stone, 4/16/92), "Citizen GE practices its everyday politics unhindered by its status as a convicted felon."
When GE acquired NBC's licenses, the rules were somewhat looser. On Dec. 10, 1985, the FCC relaxed the policy on character qualifications, declaring that a large corporation could be held responsible for felonies only if the heads of the corporation or those directly involved in the broadcasting aspect were the wrongdoers. The very next day, GE announced it would buy NBC's parent, RCA, for $6.2 billion. (The timing, of course, was completely coincidental -- as was the fact that GE chair Jack Welch was an old friend of then-President Ronald Reagan, who had gotten his start in politics largely thanks to GE.)
GE was a direct beneficiary of the new FCC policy, as an AP report noted the following year (6/5/86):
Acting for the first time under a new policy on judging the "character" of broadcast licensees, the commission determined there was no reason to deny the license transfers because GE had rehabilitated itself [since pleading guilty to fraud charges in 1985] and convinced the government it had taken steps to insure that similar violations would not happen again.
GE's Rap Sheet
But despite the FCC's faith in GE's redemption, the corporation has returned to its criminal ways repeatedly since it took over NBC. A partial sampling of its rap sheet since then:
In 1990, GE was "convicted of defrauding the Defense Department by overcharging the Army for a battlefield computer system." (Fortune, 9/5/94) GE paid $30 million in criminal and civil fines.
In 1992, GE "pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, money laundering and corrupt business practices in connection with its sale of military jet engines to Israel," the Washington Post reported (7/23/92). "Bob Pettit, general counsel to the FCC, said today that such convictions are 'relevant' for the commission to consider, but do not result in automatic loss of license," the paper noted.
GE currently faces anti-trust charges "of a scheme by GE executives to rig prices with DeBeers Consolidated Mines, the secretive South African cartel that controls much of the world's diamond production." (Fairfield County Business Journal, 5/25/92)
Most recently have come revelations of illegal reporting at Kidder Peabody, GE's investment subsidiary, which resulted in the dismissal of Kidder CEO Michael Carpenter -- who was brought in from another GE division by Welch in 1989 to put Kidder in order. "Like it or not, the scandals at Kidder Peabody were brought on by GE's management," Fortune asserted (9/5/94).
A February 1994 report of the Project on Government Oversight found that GE had 16 instances of fraudulent activity against the government since 1990 -- the most of any company listed (Daily Citizen, 3/14/94). Such revelations led Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, to note, "If the law were 15 strikes and you're out, GE would be banned."
The FCC is particularly concerned with questionable activity before other government agencies, since this might indicate a willingness to deceive the FCC. Despite GE's unsavory record, formal challenges have rarely been made to its ownership of the NBC licenses. Such cases were to be raised in a hearing against NBC by National Capital Communications Inc., which was filing a competing application for WRC-TV, NBC's D.C. affiliate. But NBC and NCCI made a deal whereby NBC would pay $295,000 (ostensibly for legal costs) to NCCI, in return for NCCI dropping its challenge Television Digest, 5/24/93).
"The Price They Ought to Pay"
In the past, the FCC has ruled that non-broadcast legal cases against GE "raise no substantial and material question" as to NBC's qualifications to own its licenses. (See Communications Daily, 3/5/92). But this was under an FCC with a more conservative cast, and preceded the somewhat toughened 1990 character policy. As things stand, "the FCC's rules on the subject are vague about what impact wrongdoing by one corporate subsidiary has on another," Electronic Media reports (7/27/92).
Any sale of NBC's licenses has to be approved by the FCC. This may give the agency (and anyone seeking to challenge NBC's licenses) an additional opportunity to review GE's fitness to own the outlets in the first place. Any action by the FCC against GE would likely result in a prolonged court battle, but could prove disastrous for GE should it lose.
GE maintains that it should not be held responsible for the actions of rogue employees. But Greider, in his book Who Will Tell the People, writes that this argument is disingenuous, given GE's "high-pressure management culture":
GE first turns up the heat on its line managers by creating a climate of purposeful insecurity -- everyone's job is at risk if his or her division's profit performance lags. Then, when division managers in the field are caught in false billings and other forms of profiteering, GE piously disavows them as "miscreant employees."
The Washington Post (7/23/92) noted that
some disaffected former employees contended that GE's relentless competitive drive to dominate markets and increase profits fostered a climate in which some managers decided to cut corners to preserve their careers.
Says retired FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson of the culpability of parent corporations like GE for illegal activity by subsidiaries: "If you're going to allow conglomerate licenses -- something that was prevented in the case of ITT [which tried to buy ABC] in 1967 -- this ought to be part of the price these guys ought to pay."
"Bozos and Thieves"
GE/NBC's potential vulnerability on this question has apparently been used for less than principled reasons. In 1989, Broadcasting Magazine (4/3/89) announced that "NBC will soon have a competitor for Ted Turner's CNN with CNBC," a cable channel that was originally conceived as carrying round-the-clock news. Shortly thereafter, Ted Turner attacked GE as "the most corrupt corporation in America," It was run by "bozos" and "thieves" who have been "indicted and admitted to stealing from the Pentagon" (Electronic Media, 4/13/89). Turner declared: "These crooks, these convicted felons, should be behind bars."
After hearing this implicit threat -- and after getting a cold shoulder from TCI, the nation's largest cable systems operator, which owns part of CNN -- GE decided that CNBC would become merely a financial and talk outlet rather than an all-news channel, thus preserving CNN's monopoly.
Curiously, one of the few outlets to have noted what it called GE's "Litany of Sins" was Fortune, which ran a cover story (9/5/94) about trading scandals at GE's Kidder Peabody division. This issue was on the newsstands when information that Time Warner (which owns Fortune) was considering buying NBC was first reported.
The complicated politics of broadcast ownership make it questionable whether Time Warner was trying to leverage GE in the Ted Turner fashion. Time Warner has reportedly proposed that GE would keep a majority stake in NBC's affiliates in any deal, since the FCC would (for now) frown on Time Warner, a major cable operator, acquiring broadcast outlets.
Still, it's odd to see Time Warner's Fortune complaining about corporate synergy: "When the Kidder scandal came to a head in June, GE went on CNBC, which it owns, to respond," the September 5 cover story noted.
GE is not the only media company vulnerable to the "character" issue. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. has been charged by the FCC with "either carelessness or recklessness" for failing to disclose a fraud settlement. (See sidebar.)
Turner ally TCI, which benefited from GE's backing down on CNBC, faces similar license problems; although its cable systems are not licensed by the FCC, TCI relies on FCC-regulated licenses to maintain its national system. A TCI anti-trust conviction led to a license challenge from the non-profit Media Access Project; TCI managed to hold on to its broadcast licenses, but had to pay the Media Access Project $50,000 in attorneys' fees (Multichannel News, 6/10/91).
And after the Wall Street Journal (1/27/92) ran an article headlined "Cable Cabal," which tracked a series of insider stock transactions by TCI Chair Robert Magness and CEO John Malone, Broadcasting (2/24/92) noted that
If TCI were ever convicted of a wrongdoing, its microwave licenses (and its current attempts to get a DBS [Direct Broadcast Satellite] license) could be jeopardized. Any conviction could disqualify TCI under the FCC's character-qualification policy, which is primarily concerned with felony convictions that suggest a willingness to deceive a federal agency or the public.
In the past, the government's potential to abuse the FCC's power to strip the licenses of felons has chilled news media. In 1971, the Washington Post was concerned that if it was ruled to have violated the law when it published information from the "Pentagon Papers" -- classified documents about the Vietnam War -- the Post's broadcast holdings might be jeopardized. Publisher Katharine Graham "was really risking the television stations, all of them," by its reporting, editor Ben Bradlee noted (AP, 5/13/91).
What's needed are clear, tough and consistent FCC standards regarding the character of licensees. This would better ensure that the airwaves are used in the public interest in a vibrant manner without fear of political manipulation.
Sam Husseini is FAIR's activist coordinator.
Sidebar: NBC Brings Good Things to GE
While a licensee's deception of any government agency is always problematic, the FCC is particularly concerned when the commission is itself lied to. The FCC allowed GE to take over NBC in part because it accepted "GE's assurance that NBC News will operate autonomously, without interference by the new bosses." (Advertising Age, 6/16/86) But there is considerable evidence this has not been the case.
"Don't bend over backwards to go after us just because we own you," former NBC News president Lawrence Grossman said GE chair Jack Welch told him. The GE boss was worried, Grossman reported, "that in the news division, we might be off the reservation and might want to demonstrate our independence."
Grossman also reported that Welch gave him specific criticism, like telling him that "NBC's reporters should stay away from using depressing phrases like 'Black Monday'" to refer to the 1987 stock market crash. Welch even insisted that Today show weather forecaster Willard Scott continue to mention GE light bulbs on the air. "It was one of the perks of owning a network," Grossman said. "You get your light bulbs mentioned on the air.... People want to please the owners."
Grossman, who was fired in 1988, says he also got pressure from NBC head Robert Wright (who had come from GE Financial Services) when NBC News aired reports critical of MCA/Universal, whose TV arm supplied fare to NBC. "The vibrations or message that was being communicated [by Wright] was 'We're losing money and you guys are risking even more when you put on these reports,'" Grossman told Electronic Media (11/11/91).
Grossman's revelations were shrugged off by the FCC. William Johnson,deputy chief of the Mass Media Bureau, said (Electronic Media, 11/11/91): "If the owner has an opinion, he's entitled to say that to his employees. It's hard for me to see what's wrong with that."
NBC News has also edited out or excluded negative reporting on GE, from GE's use of defective bolts in airplane engines to references to the INFACT-led boycott against GE. NBC News has also plugged subjects dear to its corporate parent's heart, as with a 14-minute series on a GE-manufactured breast cancer detector. (See Extra!, 1-2/91.)