Four Years Later And CNBC's Still Bashing Obama

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Fortune magazine reported that after receiving critical coverage in that publication following his unsupported, conspiratorial claim that the September employment numbers had been rigged by the White House for political gain, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch notified Fortune that he was "terminating" his writing contract with the journal.  

"Welch Can't Take The Heat: I Quit," read the Fortune headline.

Note however, that Welch didn't sever his association with CNBC, the partially GE-owned cable channel that Welch used to oversee and where he still regularly appears as a commentator.

Maybe Welch isn't sore at CNBC because the channel played such a central role in promoting Welch's anti-Obama conspiracy last week and giving it legitimacy with constant coverage. "The tweet heard around the world," was how one CNBC anchor described Welch's Twitter-based conspiracy salvo last week.

Indeed, while interviewing Labor Secretary Hilda Solis about the dip in the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent, host Carl Quintanilla's first question to the cabinet member on Friday was about Welch's half-baked claim that the Bureau of Labor Statistics had "fixed" the numbers. Time and again Quintanilla returned to the conspiracy theory, insisting "a lot of people do not believe the 7.8 number." (Later that day Quintanilla referred to Welch as his "former boss" and "a man we all like.")

I'm not suggesting it's been all bad at CNBC since Friday. Several commentators there have poked on-air holes in Welch's unserious job speculation. (See here.) The problem is CNBC kept circling back to the scheme as a topic worthy of serious debate. It wasn't and that should have been self-evident to anyone in the business of journalism.

Yet on Tuesday, CNBC hosted a call-in from Donald Trump who cheered Welch's theory, calling it "100 percent correct." Worse, days after so many experts had dismissed the Welch claim as nonsense, CNBC host Becky Quick told Trump that she agreed with him that the 7.8 figure wasn't "real." He quickly concurred: "Nobody buys it."

What a mess. (And also very Fox-inspired.)

It's fitting though, that just weeks before Election Day CNBC is wallowing in an irresponsible anti-Obama conspiracy theory, considering that just weeks into Obama's presidency the all-business channel engaged in wildly irresponsible Obama bashing, bordering on demagoguery.

Remember that it was CNBC host Jim Cramer who appeared on NBC's Today in 2009 and attacked Obama's "radical agenda" and claimed it was "the most, greatest wealth destruction I've seen by a president." He claimed that under Obama, "no stocks can be considered truly free from danger" and instructed viewers to "Obama-proof that portfolio -- like bomb-proof." Cramer also referred to Obama as a "Bolshevik" and said he was "taking cues from Lenin." (Since 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen nearly 5,000 points under Obama.)

And it wasn't just Cramer who was bashing Obama:

CNBC news anchor Melissa Francis announced she'd never vote for Obama's stimulus package. Host Joe Kernen mocked Obama as having been "hijacked by those -- the crazy -- by [Nancy] Pelosi, by [Harry] Reid" and described Obama's budget as "far left." During the same segment, reporter Carl Quintanilla said of Obama's budget, "There is some social engineering going on."

Not to mention the fact CNBC helped give birth to the stridently anti-Obama Tea Party movement.

Based on its decision to hype the hollow Welch conspiracy, it appears CNBC is going wire-to-wire during Obama's first term with regards to giving a national platform to business commentators desperate to air dark Obama fantasies and conspiracies.

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Jim Cramer, Carl Quintanilla
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