Media World: Was CNBC told to be nicer to Obama?

The brass at General Electric Co. (GE) is telling the on-air talent at CNBC too cool the anti-Obama rhetoric, at least that's the story coming from the New York Post's Page Six.

GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt and NBC Universal head Jeff Zucker held the three-hour meeting at NBC's 30 Rockefeller Plaza headquarters to discuss whether CNBC was beating up on Obama too much. Particular attention was paid to Rick Santelli's now-famous "tea party" rant, the Post said.

"There's great concern that CNBC is now the anti-Obama network," the paper said. "The whole meeting was really kind of creepy."

Santelli was not included in the meeting, but Jim Cramer was, a development the Post finds odd. Perhaps Santelli was hooked into the meeting via a conference call from his base in Chicago. CNBC spokesman Brian Steel told the paper that the gathering was a thank you for a job well done during the financial crisis.

There is a certain amount of corporate schadenfreude going on here. The Post is part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp (NWS), whose Fox Business Network has not put the fear of God into CNBC. That might explain why stories about the supposed jealousy between Maria Bartilomo and Erin Burnett are given such huge play by the Post. Also, the timing of this story appearing on the day CNBC was celebrating its 20th anniversary is undoubtedly no coincidence.

But it's certainly plausible that GE top management might be worried about CNBC, particularly in light of the recent drubbing the network took from Jon Stewart. The top managers are probably concerned that with MSNBC seen as being too Obama-friendly, it doesn't help matters to now have CNBC lumped in with the wacko far right.

Of course, their biggest concern is probably the bottom line. During the first quarter, profit at the NBC Universal fell 45 percent to $391 million because of higher-than-expected expenses from the Super Bowl. Investors could care less whether that is fixed by the network's cable divisions being nicer to Obama or meaner to him -- so long as it's fixed.


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