Responsible journalism? NBC sends GE story down the memory hole

A story about NBC parent company General Electric earning $5 billion in the US last year and not paying any federal taxes never made it past the editor's desk and on air at the network - if it made it that far.

The story was all over the tube last week, but it somehow never materialized on the network owned by the company in question.

The front-page story drew widespread commentary in newspapers and on many Web sites. ABC News and Fox News, among others, were all over it.

But the story was conspicuously absent from the reportage of one news organization: NBC.

During its Friday broadcast, "NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams" had no time to mention that America's largest corporation had essentially avoided paying federal taxes in 2010. Or its Saturday, Sunday or Monday broadcasts, either.

Did NBC's silence have anything to do with the fact that one of its parent companies is General Electric?

NBC News representatives say that it didn't. "This was a straightforward editorial decision, the kind we make daily around here," said Lauren Kapp, spokeswoman for NBC News. Kapp declined to discuss how NBC decides what's news or, in this case, what isn't.

But to others, NBC's silence looks like something between a lapse and a coverup. The satirical "Daily Show" on Monday noted that "Nightly News" had time on Friday to squeeze in a story about the Oxford English Dictionary adding such terms as "OMG" and "muffin top," but didn't bother with the GE story.

As for the story itself, it doesn't bother me in the slightest that GE paid no taxes. America has the largest - by far - corporate tax rate in the industrialized world and if GE takes advantage of the tax law to avoid federal taxes, more power to them. If it bothers those who hate successful companies, change the law. Don't blame GE.

Still, it is interesting that NBC made the "editorial decision" not to cover what everyone else saw as a story.