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March 30, 2011

Jon Stewart: Hey, It's Kind of Odd That NBC Is Embargoing The Story About Parent-Corporation GE Dodging All Federal Taxes, Huh?

Which then caused the Washington Post to note it.

Did NBC’s silence have anything to do with the fact that one of its parent companies is General Electric?

NBC News representatives say that it didn’t. “This was a straightforward editorial decision, the kind we make daily around here,” said Lauren Kapp, spokeswoman for NBC News. Kapp declined to discuss how NBC decides what’s news or, in this case, what isn’t.


But to others, NBC’s silence looks like something between a lapse and a coverup. The satirical “Daily Show” on Monday noted that “Nightly News” had time on Friday to squeeze in a story about the Oxford English Dictionary adding such terms as “OMG” and “muffin top,” but didn’t bother with the GE story.

Ignoring stories about its parent company’s activities is “part of a troubling pattern” for NBC News, said Peter Hart, a director at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a liberal media watchdog group that often documents instances of corporate interference in news. He cited a series of GE-related stories that NBC’s news division has underplayed over the years, from safety issues in GE-designed nuclear power plants to the dumping of hazardous chemicals into New York’s Hudson River by GE-owned plants.

What’s more, Hart notes, NBC News has covered corporate tax-avoidance stories before — that is, when they didn’t involve GE.

Stewart calls NBC out near the end of this segment. Until then, it's a lot of liberal defense of teachers' unions and griping that corporations don't pay enough in taxes.


Although, on that point: I don't like tax regimes which impose a high nominal rate and then permit corporations to buy legislative votes for special deductions. This type of regime is fundamentally corrupt and corrupting -- and feudal, relying, as it does, on special relationships, favors, and access.

A clean regime is transparent and uniform. If the rate is 10%, you pay 10%, and you don't have loopholes, credits, and special breaks out the wazoo. That's a lot better than a system where supposedly the rate is 35% but two-thirds of corporations purchase votes for a 0% rate.

Same is more for any tax code -- the more byzantine and complex it is, the more it rewards both the tax-savvy and the corrupt, and the more it punishes the tax-oblivious and the honest. Any system in which a savvy gamer can come in and pay 0% while less-tax-savvy people (who are spending less time thinking about tax consequences and more time on productive endeavors) pay 35% is wrong. Let the tax-savvy have tiny little ways to game things in their favor, a few tenths of a percentage here and there, but it's crazy that someone who's just trying to do his job without hiring a team of tax lawyers winds up being punished for it.


Here's a bonus. I usually don't find Stewart funny but I laughed twice in this long clip about Obama's Not-A-War Address. Once at the beginning about the buffoonish-bordering-on-brain-damaged Grampy Biden, and next at around 4:45-6:00, where Stewart notes that maybe handing off command of the mission to NATO isn't exactly the same as America no longer being in the fight.


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posted by Ace at 03:32 PM

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