Tuesday, April 11, 2006

If Only It Were That Easy: CNBC Advises GM

CNBC has been running a special series this week, featuring their automotive sector reporter, Phil Lebeau. He has been providing the answers on how GM should build better cars "and" a better car company.

If this weren't so hysterically ridiculous, it would be merely good comedy.

I'm guessing at least half a dozen of the country's larger consulting firms- McKinsey, Bain, Accenture, Booz Allen, BCG, AT Kearny - are calling on Rick Wagoner to pitch their solutions. While I may not believe they can cure what ails GM, I'm pretty sure doing so involves more of what they will do than what Phil Lebeau is doing.

I can just imagine the producer(s) at CNBC huddling with the staff to discuss how to capitalize on GM's troubles....."and let's have Phil do some pieces on how they should get out of this mess. After all, he's our auto guy....."

If only it were that simple. Lebeau basically stands in Toyota factories and solemnly intones that GM should "be more like Toyota, which is doing GREAT!" He must know that what he is saying sounds superficial and silly. How can one lightweight, on air sector reporter really suggest that he can deliver the solution for GM in a few 3-minute blurbs?

Suffice to say, some consulting firms will be booking millions in fees before GM bites the dust, or staggers into some semblance of life as a much-shrunken vehicle assembler. It's not going to be because Rick Wagoner was watching CNBC this week.

I think it's pretty embarrassing for CNBC. It suggests that they aim so low in order to reach their audience's level of comprehension. Or, they simply are filling up air time because they have nothing better to offer. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

Either way, I think GM needs more than a news reporter telling them to make better cars with more cool features and fewer defects.

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