Obama’s Network

First Family frequent guests on NBC and other Comcast-owned nets

AP Images
April 7, 2012

The first family has been selective in its cameo appearances, reserving its star-power for networks owned by major supporters.

Barack Obama will be gracing cable TV screens Saturday night when he introduces the movie of the week—To Kill a Mockingbird—on USA Network. Gregory Peck’s family, as well as several cast members, will join Obama for the prime time introduction for the film’s 50th anniversary.

"It’s a classic movie that elucidates the need to do the right thing even when it’s hard," White House press secretary Jay Carney said. "It’s a fantastic movie … especially if you have kids."

The appearance comes six days after Michelle Obama made a cameo appearance on NBC’s weight-loss show, The Biggest Loser.

Both channels are owned by NBC Universal, which is controlled by Comcast and General Electric. The two companies have close ties to the president and his administration.

Obama named GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt to his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in January 2011. He enjoys an even friendlier relationship with Comcast executive vice president David Cohen, a former lobbyist.

Cohen has emerged as a prolific fundraiser for Obama in 2012, raising at least $1.2 million for the president after hosting a $10,000 per head fundraiser at his Philadelphia home. He has contributed $224,850 to liberal groups and candidates since 2007, including a $2,300 donation to Obama in 2008.

Comcast has followed suit, flooding Democrats and Obama with money since 2008, donating $2.3 million to Democrats. That is $300,000 more than it gave to Republicans.

Comcast attained 51 percent ownership of the entertainment division after merging with GE in 2011. The merger raised eyebrows, leading to a yearlong antitrust review, which was later approved by a 4-1 Federal Communications Commission vote.

Comcast reportedly spent approximately $100 million lobbying Congress while the merger was under review.

Michelle Obama has made frequent appearances on NBC-owned networks, including cameos on Bravo’s Top Chef and multiple appearances on late night shows hosted by Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon.

NBC Universal is not the only entertainment company that has benefitted from the first lady’s star power. She has also made a slew of appearances at Viacom-controlled companies, including Comedy Central and Nickelodeon.

Viacom employees have donated more than $115,000 to Obama since 2008.

Michelle Obama left the set of Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards covered in green goo after getting "slimed" while presenting an award two days before her appearance on Biggest Loser.

She will return to the weight loss show next week, when she is also scheduled to appear on Viacom-owned Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.

The Obamas’ television appearances are part of a media blitz as the president’s re-election campaign kicks into high gear.