Double Standard: Fox Attacks GM's Bonuses; Defended AIG's

Fox News has attacked General Motors and Chrysler for reports that they plan to award bonuses to their workers while “you, the taxpayer” are “still waiting to get paid back” from government loans given to car companies. Previously, however, Fox figures have defended big businesses' right to pay bonuses, despite having received taxpayer bailout money, as was the case with the insurance company AIG.

Fox Attacks General Motors, Chrysler For Paying Bonuses To Their Workers

McCallum: “GM Workers Getting $400 Million In Bonuses But You, The Taxpayer...Still Waiting To Get Paid Back On That Deal.” In a tease during the February 15 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, America's Newsroom co-host Martha MacCallum said “GM workers getting $400 million in bonuses, but you, the taxpayer, you're still waiting to get paid back on that deal. So, is that a good deal?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 02/15/11]

MacCallum: Auto Companies “Giving Management And Unions Some Hefty Bonuses. ... What Are You Getting?” On the February 15 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, MacCallum again teased the upcoming segment on the automakers' planned bonuses by asking "[Y]ou bailed out the auto companies, right? Now they're doing a bit better, and they're giving management and unions some hefty bonuses. So here's the question: What are you getting?" [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 02/15/11]

Bolling Calls Bonuses “Outrageous,” Complains About “400 Million Bucks Of Our Money...Going To These Guys.” Later on America's Newsroom, Fox Business host Eric Bolling and MacCallum complained that “GM, GM alone, still owes us $26.4 billion, Chrysler owes us $12.5 billion, still, even after all the payments they've made, yet they're giving record, double the prior record, record bonuses to their hourly workers, 400 million bucks of our money, taxpayer money, going to these guys.” Bolling concluded by saying the auto companies should “lose the workers” and advised the workers to “don't get the bonuses” and “go to Ford.” From America's Newsroom:

MACCALLUM: There is new outrage today after reports surface that General Motors is shelling out bonuses to pretty much all of its employees. According to the reports, GM's top managers are going to get 50 percent of their salary in bonuses. Most managers will get somewhere between 15 and 20 percent. Even the average workers is going to see their pay jump as well, all together the company is giving out $400 million in bonuses. You remember that Americans, of course, this is the punch line here folks, bailed out that U.S. automaker for $50 billion. And the kicker is there-- the stock is not yet at a level where we could get paid back. So that's the punch line. Eric Bolling joins me now, Follow the Money host, of course.

BOLLING: Take your blood pressure medicine, you should go now and go take it. Because if there's no -- this is the most outrageous -- when I saw this story, I e-mailed your producers, I said, “We have to talk about this, this is crazy.” GM, GM alone, still owes us $26.4 billion, Chrysler owes us $12.5 billion, still, even after all the payments they've made, yet they're giving record, double the prior record, record bonuses to their hourly workers, 400 million bucks of our money, taxpayer money, going to these guys. UAW mostly, but go ahead.

MACCALLUM: What really steamed me, is that it turns out, surprise, surprise, GM and Chrysler are about to head into union negotiations, okay? And during the whole thing, during the whole bailout, the, you know, everyone, the whole country said, “Well, you've got to give something back, too, right?” So they got all the union folks to say, “Well, we'll give back this, we'll give back that.” Now they're saying, “Well, we want it back,” right?

BIOLLING: Here's what they gave back. They gave back an hourly wage, their wages were here and there's much controversy on what they actually started at. They reduced their hourly wage, now they're going to back into negotiation in September, I will guarantee you they're going to want that higher wage. In the meantime, Martha, the UAW, on this deal, on the GM deal alone, not the Chrysler deal, has $4.3 billion of our money that they didn't have before, because they were given ownership of GM. Given ownership. Handed over--

MACCALLUM: That's right.

BOLLING: Don't pay a dime for this, this is all yours, -

MACCALLUM: --and the bondholders were not made whole on it.

BOLLING: Seventeen and a half percent of the company, and the taxpayers are still owed $26.5 billion dollars.

MACCALLUM: And you know what? And, this goes back to the main premise of bailing them out in the first place, because what you've got is the executives saying, you know, “Well we got bonuses so we have to give bonuses to the unions now,” and that's all fine and good, but you know what, keep the taxpayer out of it. We shouldn't own this company. And this was why.

BOLLING: And why are they doing it? Why are they giving bonuses? What's their excuse, what do they say? They don't want to lose workers to Ford, a company that didn't take bailout money.


BOLLING: You know what I say? Lose the workers--


BOLLING: All you workers, don't get the bonuses. Go over to Ford, make that company the non-bailed out company that it is, a fantastic company. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 02/15/11]

Fox Previously Defended Bonuses For AIG After They Were Bailed Out

In March 2009, AIG Announced Over $165 Million In Bonuses After Accepting Hundreds Of Billions Of Bailout Money. As the New York Times reported, in March 2009, The American International Group (AIG) announced it would be paying out approximately $165 million is bonuses “to executives in the same business unit that brought the company to the brink of collapse last year.” At the time, the Times reported that “Of all the financial institutions that have been propped up by taxpayer dollars, none has received more money than A.I.G. and none has infuriated lawmakers more with practices that policy makers have called reckless.” From the Times:

The bonuses will be paid to executives at A.I.G.'s financial products division, the unit that wrote trillions of dollars' worth of credit-default swaps that protected investors from defaults on bonds backed in many cases by subprime mortgages.

The bonus plan covers 400 employees, and the bonuses range from as little as $1,000 to as much as $6.5 million. Seven executives at the financial products unit were entitled to receive more than $3 million in bonuses. [New York Times, 3/15/2009]

Beck said “sentiments” of AIG protestors are the same as those of Lenin and Stalin. On the April 10, 2009, edition of Glenn Beck, Beck compared AIG protestors to the revolutionaries of Stalin and Lenin, whose “revolution pitted peasants against the rich, the poor against the wealthy.” Beck stated that "[i]t's a different style, but the sentiments are exactly the same -- find 'em, get 'em, kill 'em." From the show:

BECK: First, we're going to take you to Russia, where under communists like Lenin and Stalin, their revolution pitted peasants against the rich, the poor against the wealthy. They were basically saying: Eat the rich; they did this to you. Get 'em, kill 'em.

These days, the comparison? Demonstrators rioting in front of the G-20; unions protesting in front of AIG, an organized mob; buses showing up at the houses of thse evil AIG executives. It's a different style, but the sentiments are exactly the same: Find 'em, get 'em, kill 'em. They did this to you. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 04/10/09]

Beck: “America, when are your neighbors going to stand up” against taxes on AIG bonuses? On the March 19, 2009, edition of his radio show, Beck criticized calls to tax AIG bonuses, asking, "[W]hen are your neighbors going to stand up" against those who proposed taxing the AIG bonuses? Beck stated that "[t]his is the most unpopular position anyone can have in America right now, to stand up for these AIG bonuses," and said that “when it's wildly unpopular with Washington and with the American people,” it's “absolutely right or absolutely wrong. He added: ” In this case its absolutely wrong." He claimed that lawmakers are trying to “channel America's outrage to AIG,” instead of “trying to solve the problem.” Beck also defended the bonuses themselves, arguing, "[T]his was a contract." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 03/19/09]

Beck: People in Washington are “whipping up mob rule” by holding hearings on AIG bonuses. On the March 18, 2009, edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Beck and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin claimed that politicians in Washington are “whipping up mob rule” against AIG executives. From the show:

BECK: Michelle, this is -- and I think this is why Barack Obama is on Jay Leno tomorrow. That's the first time a president has ever done that. He knows, we've-- they've got to get massively populist here, because things are starting to shake apart.

I mean, I don't know if you saw the Drudge Report today, but there's all kind of story there on the Democrats are starting to back away from him, people are starting to get angry, these tea parties are starting to really take off. I mean -- and I think what these guys are doing in Washington is whipping up mob rule. True or false? [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 03/18/09]

Hannity Attacks Schumer: “In Other Words, [He's] Going To Just Steal [AIG Executives'] Money.” On the March 17 edition of his syndicated radio show, Sean Hannity aired Sen. Chuck Schumer's (D-NY) statement that if AIG employees do not voluntarily return their bonuses, “we plan to virtually tax all of it. ... [W]e'll put in place a new law that will allow us to tax these bonuses at a very high rate, so that it is returned to its rightful owners, the taxpayers.” Hannity then stated: " 'Tax all of it.' In other words, Chucky is coming for you. The government is coming to get your money." Hannity later added: “Whether you like the AIG bonuses or not, think about this: They're going to make a law, and they're going to tax every single penny of it, virtually all of it. In other words, we're going to just steal their money. And they're not going to be able to do a darn thing about it, because we're the government, and if we decide we can confiscate all of their wealth, we're gonna do it.” [ABC Radio Network, The Sean Hannity Show, 03/18/09]

Beck Defends AIG From “Mob Rule” That Is “Attempting To Void Legally Binding Contracts.” On the March 18 edition of his Fox News show, Beck stated that by proposing to recoup the AIG bonuses, Congress is not “trying to solve this problem” but rather trying to “channel the outrage away from their roles” and “direct it toward the faceless bonus recipients at AIG.” After stating that he doesn't “like the idea of failed businesses paying bonuses,” Beck stated: “But what I really, really don't like here is the idea that we are willing to give in to mob rule, and that's what this is.” He added: “I mean, the only thing they haven't said is, 'Bring out the monster.' It's mob rule. They are attempting to void legally binding contracts.” [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 03/18/09]

Byrnes: "These Poor People...The Odds That These People Have These Bonuses Are Slim To None Right Now." On the March 23 edition of Fox News' Studio B, Fox Business Host Tracy Byrnes reacted to “populism pressure” on AIG executives to voluntarily give back bonuses by saying she had “talked about how poor [former AIG CEO] Ed Liddy got grilled that day for things that were completely out of his control. And so then he kindly goes back to his people and say[s] 'do the right thing, and try to give it back' but let's face it, anybody that gets a bonus, that money is spent long before that check comes in the mail. Right? These poor people paying off mortgages, paying off debt, the odds that these people have these bonuses are slim to none right now.” [Fox News, Studio B, 03/23/09]

Bolling, MacCallum Exaggerated The Size Of GM, Chrysler Workers' Bonuses

MacCallum: “Most Managers Will Get Somewhere Between 15% And 20%” Of Their Salary In Bonuses. On America's Newsroom, MacCallum claimed “GM's top managers are going to get 50 percent of their salary in bonuses. Most managers will get somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 02/15/11]

In Fact, Bonuses Will Reportedly Be 4-16% Of Base Pay For “White-Collar Workers.” Contrary to MacCallum's assertion, the Associated Press reported that “white-collar workers such as engineers and managers will get 4 to 16 percent of their base pay,” and “less than 1 percent” of workers “will get 50 percent or more.” [AP, 02/14/11]

Auto Companies Reportedly Giving Bonuses Due To Company's “Rapid Turnaround.” The Associate Press further reported that the bonuses are being given to General Motors' employees “as a reward for the company's rapid turnaround after it was rescued by the government.” From the Associated Press:

In the four years leading up to its 2009 bankruptcy, GM piled up more than $80 billion in losses and was burdened by enormous debt and costly labor contracts.

“On the whole, we made tremendous progress last year,” CEO and Chairman Dan Akerson said Monday in an e-mail message to employees announcing the payments. “With our collective teamwork, this can be just the beginning.”

The company made $4.2 billion in the first nine months of 2010 and is expected to announce a fourth-quarter profit soon.


Bill Selesky, an auto industry analyst with Argus Research in New York, called the recovery “dramatic” and said the payments were needed to stop talent from jumping to other automakers, especially crosstown rival Ford.

The company, he added, is also trying to send a message: “It's the new GM.” [AP, 02/14/11]