Two-Way Street

Welch's Comments and Trash Talk Reverb

One sad fact of the news business is that people pay more attention when someone is getting trashed rather than praised.

Take the Jack Welch comments yesterday. The GE Legend came on our air Wednesday and said some pretty tough things about current GE Chief Jeff Immelt's situation; things like Immelt got his "ass-kicked" and that he had a "credibility problem."

Now if you look at his comments in the context of his conversation with the "Squawk Box" gang, it's pretty obvious that Welch wasn't intending his comments so much as pointed criticism but as sympathetic observation ... sort of like when your favorite quarterback can't quite pull off a certain two-minute drill.

Nonetheless, the business media grabbed hold of Welch's comments as a condemnation of the current GE strategy. (BTW, GE is our parent).

Welch tried to clarify where he stands on Immelt and GE Wednesday morning, saying he thinks the GE strategy is right on and Immelt is a "helluva CEO." But I'm afraid that message won't go as far as yesterday's critique. As Joe Kernan pointed out during the show, we live in a sound-bite world.

Welch's Wednesday comments, in video and text form, were one of our Number One draws in site traffic yesterday. The early numbers today tell me that Welch's Thursday clarification won't do as well.

They say nice guys finish last. Apparently nice words don't do so well either.

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