02 Jun 2021 Comcast CEO Confirms Lack of Oversight of NBC, MSNBC, Other Comcast News Properties
Washington, D.C. – Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts confirmed today that Comcast’s corporate management team does not supervise the accuracy, quality or journalistic integrity of the company’s news outlets. His comments were made in response to a question submitted by the Free Enterprise Project (FEP) of the National Center for Public Policy Research.
At Comcast’s annual shareholder meeting, FEP Deputy Director Scott Shepard submitted this question:
Comcast’s news media holdings make a regular habit of labeling as “conspiracy theory” or “fake news” things that later turn out to be true, like the information on Hunter Biden’s laptop that implicates the president, while asserting as true things that later turn out to be conspiracy theories, like the farrago of Russian collusion. Most recently it has become clear that the theory that COVID-19 had escaped from a Wuhan virology lab was never a conspiracy theory, and is the likeliest explanation – rendering both false and venal Comcast-property claims that those who suggested the possibility, including Senator Tom Cotton and other respected officials, were liars, buffoons and racists.
Will you now apologize to everyone who was libeled by your properties, and explain in detail what Comcast intends to do to restore some patina of reliability to its news outlets?
Well, thank you for your question. I would comment that I think we’re very proud of NBC News, and they’re committed to producing the highest quality of journalism across our platforms. Same goes for Sky News. And if they believe they’ve done something wrong they usually talk about that.
So I have always honored the pledge that we made when we bought NBC Universal, and our agreement with the FCC, that we would not interfere in the news operations, and we took a similar pledge when we bought Sky News.
So, you’re certainly entitled to your views, and we appreciate you sharing them, but I continue to believe that NBC News does a wonderful service, and we have a hardworking team of journalists throughout the world doing their best to constantly keep the society informed.
An annotated written version of Shepard’s question may be found here. Audio of the reading of Shepard’s question, and Roberts’s response, may be heard here.
After the meeting, Shepard commented:
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts explicitly stated that Comcast does not supervise its “news” properties, including NBC and MSNBC. But given those outlets’ appalling track records of error and of failure to achieve even the most basic standards of journalistic integrity, this amounts to an admission that Comcast has abandoned its fiduciary duty to its shareholders. It has a responsibility to ensure that all of its subsidiaries perform in ways that do not bring the larger company into disrepute and even disgrace. Roberts has proudly proclaimed Comcast’s dereliction of that corporate duty.
Roberts’s response was particularly troubling given that just minutes before this, a shareholder proposal had retailed some of the other profound failures in NBC’s news divisions, headlined by the debacle and disgrace of Matt Lauer and the company’s decades-long failure to address his horrifying behavior. Add to that the wild unpopularity of Comcast’s corporate brand – it’s one of the most hated companies in America by customers – this failure is par for the course. But that certainly does not excuse it. Shareholders must look harder at Comcast and its management team, and consider whether investment in such a badly run company continues to make sense.
FEP associate Davis Soderberg, who also attended the meeting, added:
Surprisingly, Comcast asked our question verbatim. Not surprisingly, Roberts’s answer was, at best, insufficient in justifying his news organizations’ continued practice of suppressing information that is counter to their left-wing narrative. He claimed that Comcast’s news organizations are “committed to producing the highest quality of journalism,” but shareholders want more than just a commitment; we want results that reflect competence and truthful reporting. Roberts failed to recognize any problem despite our specific examples. But those failures are ultimately his failures, and his disinterest in them his breach of duty.
Conservative investors can learn how to oppose leftism in corporate America by downloading FEP’s new 2021 Investor Value Voter Guide and Balancing the Boardroom voting guide. The new website Stop Corporate Tyranny also provides tools for engagement with corporate leaders.
Today’s meeting marks the 37th time FEP has participated in a shareholder meeting in 2021. To schedule an interview with a member of the Free Enterprise Project on this or other issues, contact Judy Kent at (703) 477-7476.
Launched in 2007, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project focuses on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Over the past four years alone, FEP representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings – advancing free-market ideals about health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. As the leading voice for conservative-minded investors, it annually files more than 90 percent of all right-of-center shareholder resolutions. Dozens of liberal organizations, however, annually file more than 95 percent of all policy-oriented shareholder resolutions and continue to exert undue influence over corporate America.
FEP activity has been covered by media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work is prominently featured in Stephen Soukup’s new book The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business (Encounter Books) and Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors.
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