As the New York Times media reporter, Brian Stelter, noted on Saturday, December 9, NBC agreed to broadcast a two-hour television show fully funded and sponsored by JPMorgan Chase called the "American Giving Awards." The program showcased solely recipients of charitable donations from Chase, featured commercials for Chase and reminded viewers constantly throughout the broadcast that the entire event was "presented by Chase."
NBC presented the show under the guise of a heartwarming holiday season special, but it was really a promotional/advertising event emblematic of a troubling trend among big businesses of creating their own media and disguising it as entertainment. As Lisa Graves, the Center for Media and Democracy's Executive Director told the New York Times, the show is a "greed-washing campaign to score PR points."
JPMorgan Chase helped bring about the global economic crash of 2008, yet none of its principals have been held to account its role in the Wall Street meltdown, and it has benefited from other aspects of the Wall Street bailout beyond TARP, which the Center for Media and Democracy has documented here.
Earlier this year, after posting over $17 billion in net income in the year after the stock market crashed, JPMorgan "set aside $9.73 billion for 26,314 workers" for pay and bonuses at its investment bank, which was enough, according to BusinessWeek, to pay "an average of $369,651 to each employee for 2010, or 2.4 percent less than in 2009." Meanwhile, JPMorgan recently settled claims about junk bonds it marketed to investors and agreed to pay a fine of $1.7 million and about $2 million in restitution. The fine is just slightly less than what Chase has given in the donations featured on the NBC special. As PRWatch's Graves noted, the $2 million in Chase donations featured on the NBC show "are a drop in the bucket compared to its ultra-lush benefits for bankers who profited richly from the swaps that undermined our nation's financial security."