ABC Touts Entrepreneur Seeking Backing of Government 'Lawyers and Lobbyists'
Published: 6/17/2010 2:51 PM ET
The day after President Obama's oil spill speech - in which the President pivoted from the ongoing mess in the Gulf of Mexico to his call for ending our "addiction" to fossil fuels - ABC's World News obliged the White House's agenda with a profile of solar cell manufacturer Natcore, whose president, Chuck Provini, says he can cut the costs of solar cells (which are right now too expensive to be economically viable without government subsidies).
But the problem, as ABC correspondent Dan Harris helped frame it, is that this entrepreneur was getting nothing but "blank stares" from the "congressional staffers, lawyers and lobbyists" he met with in Washington, D.C. - as if a venture capitalists and other private investors wouldn't be tripping over themselves to get in on the ground floor of a process that could actually make solar power viable.
And the hero of the story, as ABC told it, is China's dictatorship, which has made a deal with the company and will now gain the "hundreds of jobs" that U.S. officials have supposedly squandered by not bankrolling Provini:
Does ABC really think that good business ideas require the support of lobbyists, lawyers and congressional staffers? That the free market cannot innovate and economize with at "big, bold" government "plan?"DAN HARRIS: There was, however, one place offering help: China. The government flew him over there and made him a very generous offer. (to Provini) Would you say that the Chinese officials made your life easy in this process?
CHUCK PROVINI, via Skype: It's been a pleasure. They've been gracious. They've cut through red tape.
HARRIS: He is about to cut a deal to open a factory that will create hundreds of jobs - jobs that could have been created here....Critics say the federal government needs a big, bold plan to dramatically ramp up our use of clean energy. Until then, they say, we're going to see a lot more American companies like Natcore exporting their promising ideas to places like China.
MRC's Brad Wilmouth caught the story from the June 16 World News with Diane Sawyer:
DIANE SAWYER: And, in his speech last night, President Obama used the moment to call for less dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels and making sure that China doesn't get all the new jobs in wind and solar power. But Dan Harris heard a story today of one company, one big idea, but in America, no one to say give it a try.-Rich Noyes is Research Director at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.
DAN HARRIS: Natcore is a small company based in New Jersey that says it's come up with an innovative new approach to make solar technology better and cheaper, one that its scientists are very excited about. The president of the company - this guy, Chuck Provini - says he was determined to set up shop here in America.
CHUCK PROVINI, NATCORE SOLAR: I live here in New Jersey. I'm a former Marine. I consider myself a good American and a patriot. We wanted to do business in the States.
HARRIS: He went to Washington, D.C., and met with congressional staffers, lawyers and lobbyists, but says he couldn't get the help raising the money that he needed. [to Provini] Were you met with blank stares?
PROVINI: They were very polite. We got polite letters, polite conversations, but it was obvious that there was a major disconnect.
HARRIS: There was, however, one place offering help: China. The government flew him over there and made him a very generous offer. Would you say that the Chinese officials made your life easy in this process?
PROVINI: It's been a pleasure. They've been gracious. They've cut through red tape.
HARRIS: He is about to cut a deal to open a factory that will create hundreds of jobs - jobs that could have been created here. (to Provini, via Skype) You're now in China, as we speak, in the middle of the night, and you're not far away from inking a final deal.
PROVINI: Well, I'm really curious as to how you found me at 2:00 in the morning in Jujo City.
HARRIS: To be fair, it is hard for the U.S. to compete with China's dictatorial government, which essentially runs the entire economy. But still, critics say the federal government needs a big, bold plan to dramatically ramp up our use of clean energy. Until then, they say, we're going to see a lot more American companies like Natcore exporting their promising ideas to places like China. Diane?
SAWYER: A real cautionary tale about the need for a fast track here in America. Dan Harris reporting.