Spiking Solyndra: Big Three Networks Barely Mention Burgeoning Scandal
Energy Secretary Steven Chu's admission, on Thursday, that he approved more taxpayer money to the financially strapped solar panel company Solyndra, after it defaulted on a $535 million loan from that agency. Big Three network coverage? Zero. This is just a continuing pattern of ABC, CBS and NBC barely touching the bourgeoning scandal for the Obama administration.
What initially began as an embarrassing collapse of one of the green companies touted by the Obama has turned into a story of coverup of still more stimulus money being wasted on the left's pet cause of climate change. Yet, as a search of Nexis shows, the networks have glanced over the Solyndra story with the Big Three networks running a total of just 8 total full stories, two anchor briefs and a couple of mentions on their evening and morning news shows, since the company declared bankruptcy in August.
When the CEO and CFO of Solyndra, on September 23, invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, the networks mostly skipped over the news. As the MRC's Brent Baker reported, 'neither ABC nor NBC mentioned the development Friday night and CBS allocated a mere 25 seconds.'
NBC's Lisa Myers did note on the September 24 Today show: 'Images of its executives taking the Fifth today are not the optics the White House had hoped for,' but neither ABC nor CBS advanced that angle on the story on their morning shows.
Myers, to her credit, explained the severity of the story as seen in the following excerpt:
MATT LAUER: Top executives from a now bankrupt solar energy company who were given half a billion in taxpayer loans by the Obama administration are appearing at a congressional hearing this morning but they are pleading the Fifth. NBC's senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers is in San Antonio with the latest on this. Hi, Lisa. Good morning.
LISA MYERS: Good morning to you, Matt. This company was the poster child for the President's green jobs initiative. So, images of its executives taking the Fifth today are not the optics the White House had hoped for. Taxpayers now stand to lose as much as a half billion dollars. Solyndra executives personally showed the President around their operation last year. Top executives promised to testify today, under oath, before House investigators. Their lawyers now say they will show up but decline to answer questions and invoke their Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination.
FRED UPTON (R-MI): They have now broken their word yet again we're not going to stop until we get all the answers.
MYERS: As recently as this summer, Solyndra officials gave Congress an upbeat report. Now Republicans and Democrats feel deceived.
REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D-CA): In July, the CEO of Solyndra told me that company was doing very well. They were even going to double their revenues. And a month later they went into bankruptcy. I feel like I was misled.
MYERS: So far the investigation has revealed that even before the $535 million loan guarantee was approved two years ago, there were warnings that the project potentially runs out of cash in September 2011, which it did. Another key point came early this year when Solyndra was in trouble and the administration debated whether to pour in still more taxpayer money. In a January E-mail, a staffer suggested it might be better to let the company fail. "If Solyndra defaults down the road, the optics will arguably be worse later than they would be today," he wrote. "Questions will be asked why the administration made a bad investment not once, but twice."
UPTON: They should have stopped then knowing they were playing with taxpayer money, not funny money.
MYERS: Instead the administration decided to let Solyndra draw down $75 million more in taxpayer loans. And to lure private investigators, it agreed that some investors would take priority over taxpayers in a bankruptcy which is highly unusual. Administration officials say they believe they made the right decision at the time, that giving Solyndra more money may have enabled the company to succeed if solar prices had not plummeted. The FBI is now investigating whether the company intentionally misled about its finances. The company says it did not. Matt?
- Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Geoffrey Dickens on Twitter.