NBC Slams Northern Trust Bank for PGA Related Events

What a crime! A profitable company honors a contract and spends its own money to host events for clients – the audacity!

Taking a page from ABC’s AIG hit job, NBC’s “Today Show” on Feb. 25 took a cheap shot at Northern Trust Bank for the perceived travesty of the Northern Trust Open, a PGA tour event, and its related corporate events. But NBC didn’t tell the whole story or provide any balance.

Following up on a story originally broken by the TMZ Web site, Senior Investigative Correspondent Lisa Myers began her report suggesting Northern Trust Bank was a “bailout bank” because it took $1.6 billion from the Federal Government. NBC failed to mention that former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson essentially forced nearly all the major banks to take money from the TARP.

Myers allowed that Northern Trust Bank contends it is a healthy bank, yet she neglected to include the fact that the firm had turned a profit of $794.8 million in 2008. Banks that have large exposure to the mortgage crisis generally do not make money.

Myers reported that, as Northern Trust Bank put up their clients and executives in the “ritziest hotels” as well as “on the beach” and “Beverly Hills.” The company even went so far as to host “luxurious cocktail parties” and “elegant dinners.” Anchor Matt Lauer noted at the introduction to Myers that these events were connected to the Northern Trust sponsorship of the golf tournament. Yet during the entire report, nary a mention of the five-year contract Northern Trust has to sponsor the event. The PGA and Northern Trust signed the contract in 2007, long before any ‘bailout funds’ were delivered.

Of course Myers failed to include the response from Northern Trust Bank to TMZ denying that any of these events was paid with TARP funds. Neither was the fact that the company is paying $78.8 million on an annual basis as a return on taxpayers’ investment.

But she did reach ‘outraged’ Democratic lawmakers. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) were selected to express their anger at Northern Trust Bank’s style of corporate events. At no point did a representative of Northern Trust, the banking industry, or even a business analyst with a dissenting opinion appear.