David Gregory: Obama’s Failure to Embrace CEOs
by Peter Hart, FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting)
Post-election lessons are everywhere in the media, as pundits either try to explain how Mitt Romney lost or what Obama must do in his second term.
My favorite example of this came on the front page of USA Today (11/8/12):
On Sunday, NBC Meet the Press host David Gregory (11/11/12) was offering similar advice alongside CNBC host Jim Cramer (the one whose prediction of a massive Obama landslide doesn’t prevent him from being a political pundit):
GREGORY: Jim, I always thought that one of the big mistakes of the first Obama term is that he never had a moment in the Rose Garden where he was flanked by the biggest business leaders in America and said, “Look, we’re going to work together in common cause to deal with this economy, to deal with our fiscal position, and ultimately affect America’s influence in the rest of the world.” Can he have that moment now?
CRAMER: Yes, because this time…
GREGORY: Will he?
CRAMER: …the leaders need him. The CEOs need him, because their businesses are going to go down. Their stocks are going to go down. This is what they care about. They care about their own compensation, and they care about higher stock prices. You’re going to get declining compensation and I’m giving you lower stock prices for certain without a deal.
One could identify all kinds of failures in the first Obama term. The failure to do much of to alleviate the problems in the housing market. Unemployment. The escalation of the war in Afghanistan. You could see any of these as the big problems in the first Obama term…or maybe it’s the failure to have a photo op with CEOs.
Gregory’s point doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Obama picked a rather high-profile CEO–Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric, which still owns part of Gregory’s network–to head a jobs task force (which led to a controversy over why a CEO known for outsourcing jobs would offer much help on job creation, at least in this country). The administration has been stocked with people with deep ties to Wall Street like Tim Geithner, while Morgan Stanley director Erskine Bowles was picked to co-chair Obama’s deficit commission.
**UPDATE: Ace labor reporter Mike Elk noted on Twitter that Honeywell CEO David Cote appeared at the White House with Obama to promote the stimulus bill on the day the House was set to vote on it. He was there along with IBM CEO Sam Palmisano. Here’s a photo of the kind of event David Gregory wishes had happened in Obama’s first term–it happened January 28, 2009, eight days after his inauguration:
But it’s been an article of faith among right-wing pundits and Republicans that Obama has been uniquely hostile to corporate America. There’s not much to go on here, but the repetition has paid off, since reporters like Gregory now seem to think that Obama’s neglect of CEOs was a “big mistake.”
Either that, or Gregory knows that this is the kind of criticism you’re allowed to make in the corporate media. It’s likely no one put him up to saying something like this. But if David Gregory were the type of person who thought Obama should have embraced the labor movement or championed a crackdown on corporate tax-cheating…well, he wouldn’t have the job he has today.