Ed Driscoll

MSNBC Wags the Dog at GE

When MSNBC first went hard left in the mid-naughts, the assumption among many on the center-left and right was likely something along the lines of, “Hey, it’s Air America with pictures. The TV network for the Kos Kidz. A place for Olbermann to hop out of the bathtub every day. No big deal, right?” But the hard left worldview at MSNBC is seeping elsewhere into those affiliated with the channel. As of last month, Comcast now own MSNBC; recall the news from last month that “Comcast Bans Gun and Ammo Ads Following NBCUniversal Purchase:”

The Comcast Corporation, sole owner of NBCUniversal now, recently made the decision to refuse advertising from gun stores and ammunition manufacturers. Operating in 39 states and the District of Columbia, it is by far the largest cable company in the country. What’s more, it holds a regional monopoly on cable TV in a multitude of markets, meaning it’s the only affordable televised commercial access that many gun stores have.

The blanket directive was issued just as soon as its purchase of NBCUniversal was finalized, which has had a long-standing policy against gun-related ads on its networks.

As our readers are well aware of by now, their so-called cable ‘news’ outlet MSNBC has consistently expressed strong opinions on the subject of gun control, without much of an opportunity to present counter-arguments. Hosts like Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews, Martin Bashir, etc. have gone out of their way to demonize the NRA and gun owners in general.

Of course, NBCUniversal has made millions off of movies and TV shows where gun play is prominent, so the move to ban ads by gun stores catering to law abiding citizens is highly hypocritical.

Comcast isn’t alone among corporate cable outlets to ban such ads. The nation’s second biggest cable provider, Time Warner announced in mid-January that it would no longer air ads with semiautomatic weapons in them. Cox Communications had already imposed restrictions before the Newtown massacre occurred. The irony of this approach certainly appears to be lost on all of them.

As big as they are – Comcast, Time Warner and Cox won’t lose much (if any) revenue, but gun control advocates still call Comcast’s decision a “brave move.” With few other options available to them and none as pervasive, local gun store owners and ammo dealers are sure to feel the economic sting though.

“Frankly, I’m a little confused,” Indiana gun store owner Rick Oliver told reporter Jessica Contrera of the Journal and Courier. The co-owner of Haley’s Lodge, a gun and ammunition dealer in Lafayette, Indiana had no idea why his money wasn’t good anymore. “I’ve been running TV ads for 30 years, but if they don’t want my money, I’ll take it elsewhere.”

The deal to hand GE’s percentage of its ownership of NBC over to Comcast wasn’t completed until last month, however, the taint of ownership or MSNBC lingers on there; today, the Wall Street Journal is reporting, “GE Capital Cuts Off Lending to Gun Shops:”

This month, Glenn Duncan, owner of Duncan’s Outdoor Store in Bay City, Mich., said he received a letter from GE Capital Retail Bank in which the lender said it had made “the difficult decision” to stop providing financing services to his store. Other gun dealers have received similar notices.

GE is at least the second big financial firm to retreat from the gun business following the school shootings, which claimed the lives of 20 first-graders and six adults in December.

Days after the killings, private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP said it would try to sell the gun company it owns—Freedom Group Inc.— which makes brands including Remington, Bushmaster, Marlin and H&R.

The moves highlight how companies, closely attuned to the concerns of investors and employees, have reacted to public horror caused by the attacks, even as complicated political considerations doomed new gun-control legislation in the Congress.

GE is based in Fairfield, Conn., and many of the GE’s employees live around Newtown, and several have children in the Sandy Hook elementary school, where the shootings took place. Peter Lanza, the father of Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza, is an executive at GE Capital. GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt held a town hall meeting with affected employees after the shooting, and the board has been updated on efforts to help staff, a person familiar with the matter said.

“Industry changes, new legislation and tragic events” led GE Capital to reexamine its policies on financing firearms, spokesman Russell Wilkerson said.

Fortunately though, there’s good news at NBC:

 CNBC, which lately has become a sad, one-sided caricature of its once informative self, whose only agenda is to get the most marginal Joe Sixpack to dump his hard-earned cash into 100x P/E stocks, and where according to data from Nielsen Media Research, the total and demographic (25-54) viewership during the prime time segment (9:30am – 5:00 pm) just tumbled to 216K and 40K – the lowest recorded viewership since mid 2005 and sliding.

And that’s in addition to the report from February that “NBC To Finish 5th In Sweeps For First Time; Network Falls Behind Univision.”

CNBC and the predecessor network to MSNBC were both created by Roger Ailes, who left NBC in 1996 when given the opportunity — and $900 million budget — to build an alternative news network by Rupert Mordoch, taking many of his former employees with him. As Ailes once said, “The greatest danger to journalism is a newsroom or a profession where everyone thinks alike. Because then one wrong turn can cause an entire news division to implode.” And given how a news division can wag the dog, other areas of a conglomerate as well.