Having worked in the advertising world for almost 30 years, I can finally divulge the highly secretive, arcanely complex relationship between television news shows and their corporate advertisers:
1) Television news shows go off-the-air, unless they get money from their corporate advertisers:
2) Corporate CEOs ‚Äď who control their companies‚Äô advertising budgets ‚Äď are constantly berated for their compensation by television news shows
Makes you wonder how long the networks will keep biting the hand that feeds them, and the implications for networks‚Äô future ability to advance their anti-business political agendas‚Ä¶ or rather, the political agenda of higher taxes, more government regulations, and tighter scrutiny on executive compensation, as espoused by the Democratic Party, the puppet masters of the major news networks.
Because it‚Äôs a Presidential election year, the news executives at NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post are working around the clock to convince us that Barack Obama needs four more years to complete his ‚ÄúHope and Change Extreme Makeover‚ÄĚ for America.¬† Their liberal view is that Obama‚Äôs Presidency like a kitchen remodel: oh sure, he spent the first term doing demolition, but the real results will come in the second term. (When he has ‚Äúmore flexibility,‚ÄĚ one assumes.)
To oppose giving him four more years means you are raaaaaacist.
The networks‚Äô mission, in partnership with the Occupy Wall Street movement, is to convince you that ‚Äď other than the fact that biggest problems in the world are rooted in the fact that you don‚Äôt pay enough in taxes ‚Äď the ruination of America is caused by corporate greed, especially CEO pay.
Ah, CEO pay‚Ä¶ that populist pander that, for the news media, rings in every election cycle.¬† But, while the networks are in overdrive telling us that ‚Äúmillionaire CEOs,‚ÄĚ are exploiting the masses.¬† But have they looked around their own newsrooms?
Let‚Äôs start with the New York Times. This bastion of liberalism recently gave a $3 million signing bonus to its new chief executive, Mark Thompson, and an annual salary of $1 million.¬† He is eligible for an annual bonus of $1 million, and a separate $3 million bonus for 2013 for meeting long-term incentives, to be paid out over three years.
The percentage of CEOs who will make up to eight million in the next year?¬† Less than 1%.¬† According to published reports (Salary.com; CelebrityNetWorth.com; Forbes magazine; and Equilar executive compensation specialists) the median expected salary for a typical CEO¬†in the United States is $706,673; the middle half earn between $529,165 and $923,354; Only the top 10% — so 50 people, if we‚Äôre talking about the FORTUNE 500 ‚Äď earn more than $1.12 million. ¬†(Most of the crazy CEO salary reports you read about are once-in-a-career stock cash-outs‚Ä¶ like Tim Cook of Apple getting paid $900K and receiving a $900K bonus‚Ä¶ but cashing in millions in a one-time stock transaction that dwarfs his salary and bonus.)
So what happens when you compare CEOs‚Äô $1.12 million to the salaries of top network ‚Äútalent?‚ÄĚ¬† You realize that you should have studied journalism, not business.¬† According to the Huffington Post, the highest paid people in television news are:
Matt Lauer, NBC¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $21.5 million
Kelly Ripa, ABC¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $20 million
Sean Hannity, Fox¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $15 million
Bill O’Reilly, Fox¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $15 million
Brian Williams, NBC¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $13 million
Diane Sawyer, ABC¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $12 million
Anderson Cooper, CNN¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $11 million
Shepard Smith, Fox¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $10 million
Charlie Rose, CBS¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $8 million
Al Roker, NBC ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $7 million
Robin Roberts, ABC ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $6 million
Piers Morgan, CNN¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $6 million
Scott Pelley, CBS News¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $5 million
George Stephanopoulos, ABC ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $5 million
Chris Matthews, MSNBC¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $5 million
Joe Scarborough, MSNBC¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $4 million
Wolf Blitzer, CNN¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $3 million
Gayle King, CBS News¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $2 million
Erin Burnett, CNN¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $2 million
Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $2 million
Savannah Guthrie, NBC ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $2 million
Robin Meade, HLN anchor¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† $750,000
And because these people are paid by corporations‚Äô advertising dollars, their salaries are adding to the cost of goods and services you buy‚Ä¶ just like the CEOs.¬† The only difference is that CEOs have to issue quarterly reports on their compensation, as well as meet Sarbanes Oxley requirements.¬† CEOs must comply with regulations from the IRS, SEC, OSHA, EEOC, EPA, and dozens of other Government agencies… many of whom have the authority to levy fines, close businesses, and seize property.
Newscasters just have to look nice, avoid wardrobe malfunctions, and not curse on the air.
So next time you hear someone on MSNBC railing about CEO compensation, and how Republications ‚Äúfavor the rich,‚ÄĚ remember that Far Side cartoon where a hunter is has two bears in his gun sight‚Ä¶ but one bear is pointing at the other, indicating ‚Äúshoot him.‚ÄĚ¬† Because the more they can keep you focused on corporate CEOs, the less you‚Äôll wonder why you‚Äôre watching some millionaire newscaster reading you stuff that was available on the Internet hours earlier.