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August 03, 2009

Obama Administration Twisted Arms To Get Networks To Carry Health Care Press Conference

The Chicago Way.

In the days before President Obama's last news conference, as the networks weighed whether to give up a chunk of their precious prime time, Rahm Emanuel went straight to the top.

Rather than calling ABC, the White House chief of staff phoned Bob Iger, chief executive of parent company Disney. Instead of contacting NBC, Emanuel went to Jeffrey Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric. He also spoke with Les Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, the company spun off from Viacom.

Whether this amounted to undue pressure or plain old Chicago arm-twisting, Emanuel got results: the fourth hour of lucrative network time for his boss in six months. But network executives have been privately complaining to White House officials that they cannot afford to keep airing these sessions in the current economic downturn.

The networks "absolutely" feel pressured, says Paul Friedman, CBS's senior vice president: "It's an enormous financial cost when the president replaces one of those prime-time hours. The news divisions also have mixed feelings about whether they are being used."

Ratings have been declining for these Obama shows and this last one lost out to Fox which carried an episode of "So You Think You Can Dance".

One of my favorite lefty talking points is that the media is actually conservative because it is really nothing more than another big business. I think it's great that Emmanuel finally demonstrated for all how ridiculous that is. He didn't got to the liberals at the news divisions, he went to the liberals running the companies.


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posted by DrewM. at 11:22 AM

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