Appearance Alert!
MRC President Brent Bozell to appear on FNC's Kelly File at 9:40 p.m. EST

CBS and ABC Play to Jealousy Over Exxon Chief's Retirement Pay --4/14/2006


1. CBS and ABC Play to Jealousy Over Exxon Chief's Retirement Pay
CBS and ABC played to petty jealousies on Thursday night. Both aired silly stories which contrasted the large retirement package, earned by former ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Lee Raymond, with the average retiree income or the burden rising gas prices supposedly put on a typical family. CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer announced: "The average American enters the golden years -- retirement -- expecting to live on less than $30,000 a year, and that includes Social Security. Well, it turns out to be a little more golden than that if you run a big oil company," as if it's news that a successful executive, just like a network anchor, would retire with more than the average income. Reporter Anthony Mason stressed how Raymond made $190,000 a day in 2005 while "the average American worker...earns $43,000 a year." But Raymond may just get $8 million a year for his pension -- half what CBS will pay Katie Couric. ABC's World News Tonight featured a "First Person" account from a man who lashed out at how he's being "gouged" by oil companies. Vargas then linked gas prices to Raymond's compensation, as if supply and demand have nothing to do with it: "Those high gas prices, in the meantime, are helping finance one of the richest retirement packages in U.S. corporate history."

2. Face the Nation Producer: Hot on Global Warming & Loves McCain
In the CBS News "Public Eye" blog's weekly "10 Plus 1" feature posted Thursday, Face the Nation Executive Producer Carin Pratt sounded typical liberal media notes: She wants more coverage of the planet's demise from global warming, loathes bloggers and loves John McCain.


CBS and ABC Play to Jealousy Over Exxon
Chief's Retirement Pay

CBS and ABC played to petty jealousies on Thursday night. Both aired silly stories which contrasted the large retirement package, earned by former ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Lee Raymond, with the average retiree income or the burden rising gas prices supposedly put on a typical family. CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer announced: "The average American enters the golden years -- retirement -- expecting to live on less than $30,000 a year, and that includes Social Security. Well, it turns out to be a little more golden than that if you run a big oil company," as if it's news that a successful executive, just like a network anchor, would retire with more than the average income. Reporter Anthony Mason proceeded to hype the biggest number possible -- "Lee Raymond is being rewarded in his retirement with a breathtaking package worth nearly $400 million" -- though that counts stocks and options which will take years to amass. Mason concluded by pointing out how Raymond made $190,000 a day in 2005 while "the average American worker...earns $43,000 a year." The Washington Post reported that Raymond may just get $8 million a year for his pension -- half what CBS will pay Katie Couric to read a tele-prompter for a half hour a night.

ABC's World News Tonight featured a "First Person" account from a man who claimed rising gas prices are "forcing him to change the way he and his family live their life." Gary McIlroy used his ABC platform to lash out: "The oil companies continue to have soaring profits and soaring prices. And the American people are the ones taking it. We're the ones being gouged. So I sent a letter to the White House, saying, you know, we can't take this anymore if prices continue to go up and our paychecks are staying the same." Vargas then ludicrously linked gas prices to Raymond's compensation, as if supply and demand have nothing to do with it: "Those high gas prices, in the meantime, are helping finance one of the richest retirement packages in U.S. corporate history. Former ExxonMobil Chairman Lee Raymond received compensation worth nearly $400 million when he retired last year." Unmentioned by Vargas: How the chief of Disney, which owns ABC, got a lot more when he departed.

[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

In an April 13 New York Times story, "Exxon Chairman Got Retirement Package Worth at Least $398 Million," reporter Jad Mouawad pointed out: "The total sum for Mr. Raymond's golden years comes to at least $398 million, among the richest compensation packages ever. The record was the payout of $550 million to Michael D. Eisner, the former head of Walt Disney, in 1997." See: www.nytimes.com

Washington Post reporter Steven Mufson noted in his article: "A company spokesman said he did not know whether Raymond, who worked for Exxon for 43 years, took the lump-sum retirement payout or whether he opted for an $8 million-a-year pension instead." See: www.washingtonpost.com

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide transcripts of the April 13 ABC and CBS stories:

# CBS Evening News. Anchor Bob Schieffer intoned: "We have a story tonight that brings new meaning to the term 'golden years.' The average American enters the golden years -- retirement -- expecting to live on less than $30,000 a year [on screen: $27,639], and that includes Social Security. Well, it turns out to be a little more golden than that if you run a big oil company. Here's Anthony Mason."

Anthony Mason: "He was the mastermind of the ExxonMobil marriage, the merger that created the largest and most profitable oil company in the world. Now Lee Raymond is being rewarded in his retirement with a breathtaking package worth nearly $400 million. And if that's not enough, ExxonMobil will also pay his country club dues, give him use of the company aircraft, and a million dollar consulting contract. Of course, $400 million may seem like small change to a company that earned a $36 billion profit last year. And Raymond, over the years, has been touchy when questioned about ExxonMobil's good fortune."
Lee Raymond, ExxonMobil, on April 23, 2001: "Back when crude oil was $10, gasoline was less than a dollar a gallon, and our earnings were less than $2 billion a quarter, I don't recall seeing CBS in the room."
Mason: "But the shock may be that Raymond's retirement package isn't unusual."
Sarah Teslik, shareholder advocate: "Other companies are doing it. ExxonMobil is not alone. That doesn't make it better, it makes it scarier."
Mason: "The average pay for a CEO rose 27 percent last year to more than $11 million. The SEC is now considering new regulations to require companies to disclose more about what CEOs really make."
Jack Welch, retired General Electric CEO, January 17: "You want everybody to know."
Mason: "Former GE CEO Jack Welch was heavily criticized when his lavish retirement perks came out in divorce papers."
Welch: "But I'll tell you one thing, Anthony, for those of you who want to repeal for free markets and think that disclosure's going to cap compensation, don't hold your breath."
Mason, live at the anchor desk: "Lee Raymond earned $69 million in his last year as ExxonMobil's Chairman. That's $190,000 a day. The average American worker, Bob, earns $43,000 a year."


# ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Elizabeth Vargas: "The average price of gasoline is now $2.68 a gallon, up nearly a dime in one week. That is 40 cents more per gallon than this time last year. It is starting to hurt people who thought it would never affect them, people like Gary McIlroy of Austin, Texas, who tells us how it's forcing him to change the way he and his family live their life. Here he is in the 'First Person.'"
Gary McIlroy, over video of his family and a print-out of his whining e-mail: "We used to spend around $50 to $75 a week in gas for our family. And now, we're spending $100, $125 a week. There are three of us that drive. We tend to car pool more together. Our vacation plans, particularly with summer coming along, we've already began discussing whether we would take a road trip or not down to the Texas coast. And if gas prices reach $3 a gallon, we probably won't do that. We've certainly reduced our evenings out and to try to manage the money that we have a little better. It is surprising that I am at this point in my life, and I have to think about that, because I have a good job, and my wife has a good job. The oil companies continue to have soaring profits and soaring prices. And the American people are the ones taking it. We're the ones being gouged. So I sent a letter to the White House, saying, you know, we can't take this anymore if prices continue to go up and our paychecks are staying the same. People need some help. This needs to stop."

Vargas segued to Raymond: "In the 'First Person' tonight. Those high gas prices, in the meantime, are helping finance one of the richest retirement packages in U.S. corporate history. Former ExxonMobil chairman Lee Raymond received compensation worth nearly $400 million when he retired last year. The company paid Raymond's country club fees and will continue allowing him to use its aircraft. Raymond will pay part of the cost for personal use of the company jet."

Face the Nation Producer: Hot on Global
Warming & Loves McCain

In the CBS News "Public Eye" blog's weekly "10 Plus 1" feature posted Thursday, Face the Nation Executive Producer Carin Pratt sounded typical liberal media notes: She wants more coverage of the planet's demise from global warming, loathes bloggers and loves John McCain.

Pratt once toiled on behalf of far-left Texas activist, politician and radio talk show host Jim Hightower, her online biography reveals:
"Pratt had served as a senior producer of Face the Nation (1987-93), having joined the broadcast in February 1984 as assistant producer. She then became an associate producer.
"She joined CBS News from the Washington Post, where she was an editor. Prior to that, she had been a researcher in Washington, D.C., and an assistant to the Post's Texas bureau chief in Austin (1981-83), after working for Jim Hightower's campaign for the Texas Railroad Commission (1979-80) and for the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University (1977-79)." See: www.cbsnews.com

[This item is adopted from a NewsBusters.org blog posting on Thursday by the MRC's Tim Graham: newsbusters.org ]

Some of the questions and answers in the Public Eye interview:

# "What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?"
Pratt: "The environment. Although with the global warming situation hard to ignore, I figure that will change."

# "Do you read blogs? If so, which ones? If not, what do you read on the Internet?"
Pratt: "I don't read blogs. In fact, I am anti-blog. If I want to hear a bunch of unedited thoughts -- that's what friends are for. Who has the time? Too many newspapers and magazines. Which, one hopes, have been edited."

# "Who is the most fascinating person you've covered and who is the biggest jerk?"
Pratt: "I think Moynihan or McCain in the fascinating column. I won't talk about the biggest jerk(s); suffice it to say, they know who they are."

# "Finally, a question from RonMwanga, posted in comments: 'Is there a fiery competition to get guests among the Sunday morning talk shows? For example, John McCain last week on immigration was the perfect guest. How do you woo a guest like him to come on? Obviously he wants to speak about his message, but is he also barraged by the bookers at Stephanopoulos as well?'"
Pratt: "The competition to get guests among the Sunday talk shows is fierce. But some of the guests, like Sen. McCain, go on the Sunday shows by rotation, which is really the only fair way to do it. I was surprised that Sen. McCain wasn't asked more about immigration on that show. He is very passionate about it, and as usual, a great guest. He answers questions."

For the "10 Plus 1" session in full: www.cbsnews.com

-- Brent Baker