Did MSNBC Receive Taxpayer Money?

According to government records, the Obama administration paid nearly $500,000 in stimulus money to a PR firm to run advertisements on MSNBC promoting the White House’s green job training program.

The Labor Department shelled out $495,000 to McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations in 2009. The PR firm then bought advertising on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” and “The Rachel Maddow Show.” The ads were scheduled to run 14 times a week for two months.

While it’s impossible to tell if the ads had any indirect influence in drawing people to green job training, the official online entry on the contract for the deal noted zero jobs were directly created as a result.

Republican officials have decried the ad buy as both a waste of government resources and a move that appeared to have political motivations. MSNBC, whose current network motto is “Lean Forward”, is commonly thought to have a left-wing tilt in its programming. Olbermann, who is no longer with the network, and Maddow are well-known left-wing pundits.

In response, the Labor Department said that the decision on which networks to run the green job promotion advertisements was up to the PR firm, and not them. However, this led one right-wing critic, Americans for Limited Government spokesman Rick Manning, to say “[t]he fact that they claim that they delegated this spending authority to a consultant without oversight is outrageous.”

In total, $9 million of stimulus money went into growing the green job training program, with 60,000 students eventually participating.

— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPlace Money & Politics Editor

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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