- The Washington Times - Monday, April 6, 2009

GM blogging

New General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Officer Frederick “Fritz” Henderson must be taking media pointers from his benefactor, President Obama.

A few days before Mr. Henderson set out before the Sunday talk-show hosts for a Washington-style political grilling, he chose the friendlier avenue of communicating directly with his audience over the Internet, as Mr. Obama has been known to do.

Boston businessman Bill Alberti penned a nostalgic blog post to Mr. Henderson, reminiscing on his family’s allegiance to American cars, including his own first car, a 1977 Chevrolet Caprice Classic.

“I encourage you to broaden the conversation to include your customers,” Mr. Alberti wrote. “They have a perspective on GM no one else can provide. They found their independence in your cars. They brought their first child home from the hospital in your cars. They fell in love with you. Ultimately, your customers are the ones who will bring GM back to profitability.”

And halfway through the comments section, a poster named “fritz henderson” replied, “Your email is a shot of adrenaline for me and is a clear reminder of what this business is all about. Fantastic cars and trucks that perform superbly and create an emotional connection with their owners. Your suggestion to bring customers, both loyal GM customers and also men and women considering our products anew, into the process to reinvent GM is a good one. Will think about how we can do it, but in the meantime wanted to thank you personally for taking the time to reach out to us. Message delivered! Best regards. Fritz Henderson.”

A GM spokesman confirmed to The Washington Times that “fritz henderson” is indeed Mr. Henderson.

The new GM honcho said his first car was a 1969 Buick Skylark, which he “loved and drove for many, many years.”

Sunday Twitterati

The car-love post by Bill Alberti roped in a second political celeb, NBC’s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory.

Mr. Alberti and Mr. Gregory “tweeted” back and forth for a bit Friday evening about the letter to GM boss Frederick “Fritz” Henderson, who was a guest on Sunday’s show.

[To those not in the Twitter know - Tweets are brief, 140-character messages sent into a common “Twittersphere,” where other tweeters read the somewhat pithy posts. Authors tweet out to each other by placing an @-sign in front of the intended recipient’s name. And much as in high school, Twitter currency is tracked by followers.]

So how do the Sunday talk-show hosts stack up in the ever-important “Twittersphere”?

Mr. Gregory, “@davidgregory,” has 316,086 followers, making him king of the Sunday tweeters. ABC’s Sunday host George Stephanopolous, “@gstephanopoulos” comes in a close second place, holding the attention of 305,051 tweeters. And veteran CBS newsman Bob Schieffer, “@bobschieffer” pulls in 2,152 followers.

While a scouring of Twitter did not turn up CNN’s John King or Fox News’ Chris Wallace, the Twitter feeds for their Sunday shows pulled in followers in the hundreds.

Motor City madness

Readers at the epicenter of the domestic auto crisis have been filling the pages of the Detroit Free Press with letters of cynicism and disenfranchisement.

”Soon America will make nothing, and I wonder where we all will be - workers who cannot afford a home, and a financial class disgustingly rich,” wrote Karl Kish of Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., in Sunday’s paper. “This is the recipe for a Third World country and the instability that brings.”

Steve Sutton of Farmington Hills, Mich., questioned the government’s right to lecture at Gerneral Motors about management and debt.

“During [recently fired GM boss] Rick Wagoner’s tenure, GM lost $82 billion. President Barack Obama is projected to oversee $3,200 billion in U.S. budget deficits over the next two years. Apparently Obama’s slogans of change and hope have been replaced by, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ ”

John Bill of Shelby Township, Mich., questioned why the nation’s bankers don’t get rougher treatment:

“I don’t remember Citibank, Bank of America or AIG being asked for concessions. The only thing I have heard so far is, ‘Sorry, we can’t stop their billions in bonuses.’ AIG and the banks caused this mess, and they get rewarded. GM and Chrysler are victims of this banking scam, and they get punished for having a unionized work force? This is not right.”

Rivals in all things

The Boston Globe’s continued coverage this weekend of a move by its parent company, the New York Times, to win across-the-board pay cuts or close the blue-blooded daily, digging up a fresh angle: the Yankee threat from the South.

Of course, the age-old rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees is the fodder of baseball legend. Less obvious to some loyal readers, the Globe reported Sunday, was the New York holding of the region’s largest daily newspaper:

“Some were especially irked over the origin of the ultimatum. The New York Times Co., facing its own cash crunch, told union leaders last week it is unable to support further losses at its Boston outlet. ‘New York again,’ growled Daniel Doyle, 70, of Somerville as he stood outside Verna’s doughnut shop in Cambridge, where counter staff wear T-shirts saying ‘still here!’ because of its own brush with closing a couple of years ago. ‘I didn’t even know they owned the Globe. If you took the paper away, and I can’t read my sports, what am I getting up in the morning for?’ ”

Big change

Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter for President Reagan, notices in her latest Wall Street Journal column that President Obama’s domestic agenda will be remembered for its crushing numbers.

”In the economy, Mr. Obama’s actions since February have left him not so much more deeply defined as tagged. They can arguably be understood not as a conglomeration of moderate impulses but an expression of a kind of grandiosity. He thinks big! His plans are all-encompassing! There is so much busyness, and so much spending, that journalists have been in an unofficial race to keep track of the flurry of numbers.

“From Bloomberg News this week: ‘The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent or lent or committed $12.8 trillion’ in new pledges. This they note is almost the value of everything the United States produced last year. The price tag comes to $42,105 for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

“I happened to be rereading the economics section of Mr. Obama’s second book, ‘The Audacity of Hope,’ when I read the Bloomberg story. He scores President Bush for contributing to a national debt that amounted to a $30,000 bill for each American. Those were the days!”

• Tom LoBianco can be reached at 202/636-4891 or [email protected]


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