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General Motors Skips Fox News, Picks CNBC

Reported by Judy - July 13, 2006 -

Fox News likes to brag about what a big name it is in business news, about its two-hour Cost of Freedom business block on Saturday, and how high its ratings are compared to other networks, but when the head of General Motors needed to talk to investors about the company's turn-around plans, where did he head first?

General Motors' Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner appeared on CNBC on Tuesday (July 11, 2006) to speak to investors about his plans to slash jobs, close plants, and start making money again (but not necessarily regain market share in the auto industry).

It was a coup for CNBC, and one CNBC didn't have to lift a finger to get. GM called CNBC and requested the interview. You can read the interview's highlights in Wednesday's Detroit Free Press.

Why CNBC? As a spokesman for GM said, Wagoner wanted to get his points across directly to investors and Wall Street.

Gee, they could have called Neil Cavuto and suggested an interview. You know, Cavuto on Business, on Fox News, the most trusted name in business news. The one with Christian stripper segments alternating with stories on how great Wal-Mart is?

Can you imagine the conversation if some GM flak had actually tried to set up the interview on Fox News?

"Hi, Fox News? This is Joe Chevy from General Motors. Our chairman would like to appear on Fox News to talk about his plans for restructuring one of the largest manufacturing companies in the world.

"What's a manufacturing company? Well, it's a company that makes things, you know, like cars and trucks.

"No, they don't all come from Japan and Korea. In fact, they used to almost all come from Detroit.

"Yes, that's in the U.S. Michigan. Just north of Canada, but that's too complicated to go into right now. Do you have a business show that would be interested in having Chairman Rick Wagoner on for an interview?

"No, I didn't say 'Wal-Mart.' I said 'Wagoner.'"

"Is he a Christian? How would I know, I've never asked him. Religion doesn't seem to matter to our board of directors."

"No they are not Satan-worshipers. I guess because they don't think there is a 'Christian' way to build cars and trucks, only an efficient way or an inefficient way. What do you mean, what would Jesus do? Was he an expert on fuel economy and six-speed transmissions?"

"No, I said 'six,' not 'sex.'"

"Mr. Wagoner definitely is not interested in stripping for your show. He's not that kind of guy."

"No, he's not a cross-dresser, either. He's a car-guy."

"No, I did not say he is gay and wants to get married. I said he is a car-GUY."

"Never mind, I don't think Fox News is the right venue for this interview. Don't call us. We'll call you."

I'm not saying that's how it went. And I'm not saying Wagoner might not show up on Fox News somewhere sometime. All I'm saying is, I can see why Fox News and Neil Cavuto were not the company's first choice.