FOX News - GE's Jeffrey Immelt showdown cheered by conservatives

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt was ambushed by a FOX News producer who works for Bill O'Reilly earlier this week. The producer grilled Immelt on a comment made on Keith Olbermann's show last week from actress Janeane Garofalo. Garofalo alleged that tax day protesters were racists.

The right side of the web is buzzing over a showdown between a FOX News producer who works for Bill O'Reilly and General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt.

First some background...

Anyone who's watched Bill O'Reilly's show knows he's not a fan of Immelt. In fact, Immelt is one of O'Reilly's favorite targets. The FOX commentator regularly boasts of his huge ratings advantage over any program at GE-owned MSNBC. And he frequently lampoons Immelt, mentioning yesterday that Forbes just ranked him one of the worst CEOs in America.

O'Reilly swears his distaste for Immelt isn't personal. He perceives Immelt being too chummy with President Obama and alleges the NBC network is a cheerleader for the president's policies.


The issue that ticked off O'Reilly this week was a comment that actress Janeane Garofalo made recently on Keith Olbermann's show. We told you about the incident here.

She doesn't think the tax day tea-parties were about outrage over taxes and spending at all.

"This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of ...rednecks," Garofalo said.

O'Reilly called the claim ridiculous but seemed more incensed that Olbermann didn't challenge Garofalo. He called the incident a "new low for NBC."


Enter O'Reilly producer Jesse Watters. Well known for ambushing O'Reilly targets, Watters was sent to attend a GE stockholders meeting in Orlando, Florida. He's a stockholder so he could get in.

After Immelt's remarks, Watters asked a question during the Q & A session (see video below).

"Last week on MSNBC Janeane Garofalo said that Americans who attended tea parties and were protesting high taxes and government spending were racist rednecks," he said. "She was not challenged by the anchor on MSNBC. Are you OK with that and do you consider this a form of hate speech?"

Immelt couldn't answer the question immediately as Watters (who didn't identify himself) was applauded by stakeholders for the question.

"My own personal beliefs aside, I believe that MSNBC has some standards that they follow and that's what you are seeing," Immelt said.

But unlike Watters, Immelt was greeted with boos.

Watters kept going. "With all due respect, this is the kind of hate that MSNBC traffics on a regular basis. Are you comfortable with this and do you think this hurts the GE brand?" he asked -- again to applause.

"Again, we're in the network business," Immelt answered. "We compete with FOX News, MSNBC, and others. Again, I don't censor what they do or what they say despite the fact that I might disagree with some of it or much of it, some of the time."

Right side

As we mentioned, the right side is cheering this incident on.

The Ace of Spades calls the incident "awesome" and says "it's the response, not the question that is heartening."

HotAir wonders: "Why the sudden shareholder crankiness? Is it because Maddow’s ratings are tanking and Fox is crushing them in every time slot?"

RedState's Josh Painter brings up the ratings as well asking, "Some of the rumbling may be due to the fact that Fox News consistently gets ratings which equal or better those of MSNBC and CNN combined.


Meanwhile, Gawker has decided that they want to ambush the ambusher because he won't agree to be interviewed by the website.

"So we decided to track him down and ask him about his ambush interview tactics face-to-face," they write. "If we find him, we'll post the video as soon as we can. If we don't, we'll keep trying, and for that we'll need your help."

"If you see him, snap a camera phone picture and send it to us. Or better yet, ask him why he stalks and ambushes people that his boss disagrees with, and tell us what he says," they add.


But how does this seeming unrest jibe with President Obama's approval ratings?  After all, they're pretty solid.

His first quarter in office concluded on Sunday and Gallup reports that Obama has averaged a 63 percent approval rating. How does that compare?

"[It] matches the historical average of 63% for elected presidents' first quarters since 1953. However, it is the fourth highest for a newly elected president since that time, and the highest since Jimmy Carter's 69% in 1977," they write.

100 days

President Obama will hit the 100 day mark this Wednesday and polls show that -- as you might expect -- that there is a big partisan gap in how the president is received.

"Democrats are highly laudatory of Obama, with 88% rating him excellent or good. Republicans offer more measured criticism -- only 40% say he has done a poor or terrible job, while 35% say he has done 'just okay,'" Gallup writes.

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