24 Jun 2009 ABC World News Sponsors to Be Monitored in Light of White House “Town Hall” Meeting on Health Care, Group Says
Washington, DC – The Free Enterprise Project of the National Center for Public Policy Research is today calling on General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and Monica C. Lozano, Publisher & CEO of La Opinion, to resign from President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.
The group says their participation on a government policy panel creates a potential conflict of interest and undermines the objectivity of publications under their control.
Lozano is on the board of directors of the Walt Disney Company, which owns the ABC network, and is CEO of La Opinion, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the U.S. Immelt is CEO of GE, which owns NBC, CNBC and MSNBC.
The Free Enterprise Project is calling attention to this potential conflict of interest in light of today’s ABC World News “Town Hall” meeting on health care being hosted at the White House.
“Our liberty depends on a free and independent media and company participation in Obama’s economic panel threatens news independence,” said Tom Borelli Ph.D., director of the Free Enterprise Project.
“We are concerned that Lozano’s participation in Obama’s advisory board will affectLa Opinion’s coverage of the president’s health care initiative and her role as a board member for Disney raises even more concerns. Did Lozano play a role in the selection of ABC over other news networks and, if so, will Obama’s plan get favorable news coverage in exchange?” added Borelli.
Disney CEO Bob Iger has already shown a willingness to put politics over profit. Iger is politically-liberal (his personal political contributions are mostly to Democrats) and his wife, Willow Bay, holds a senior position with the Huffington Post.
In addition, under his direction, Iger refuses to sell the DVD or its distribution rights of the ABC miniseries “The Path to 9/11.” The miniseries was criticized by liberal politicians and advocacy groups when it was aired in September 2006 because they believed it made President Clinton look responsible for the terrorist attacks in 2001.
Because of concerns that Iger’s political views are harming its investors, this year a mutual fund filed a political contributions shareholder proposal with Disney to increase transparency of the company’s political donations.
“GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s participation in Obama’s panel is also controversial,” said Borelli. “GE’s NBC media network has been criticized for biased media coverage of Obama and his policies. Most concerning is the way its media units promote Obama’s energy policy, which will also benefit GE’s investment in green technologies.”
“Most recently,” Borelli added, “Obama promoted NBC’s new late night show hosted by Conan O’Brien through a skit he coordinated with news anchor Brian Williams. We are concerned that Corporatism is a key feature of political strategy in which major corporations work in concert with Obama to advance their political and corporate interests. With media giants GE and Disney, as well as La Opinion on Obama’s team, the public may never understand the problems associated with the president’s energy or health care policies. Given these issues, the media company executives should resign from Obama’s advisory group,” said Borelli.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is non-partisan, non-profit educational foundation based in Washington, DC. It is a truly independent foundation with 94% of its revenue derived through hundreds of thousands of small contributions. Just 1.5% of its revenue comes from corporations and 4.5% from philanthropic foundations.