Jeff Immelt Does Not Trust Black People
JOSSIP REPORTS — The future of NBC, and what to do about Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews at MSNBC, may be the least of General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt's problems. Because he just dipped himself into the murky waters of race relations, and he's about to drown.
Two weeks ago at the annual Black Corporate Directors Conference in California, Immelt was one of several high-powered guests (among other corporate execs and political powerhouses) on a panel moderated by CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien (she of the Black in America specials). Official guests and attendees of the three-day conference operate under the assumption that everything is off-the-record; reporters and news crews are barred, and participants aren't supposed to share what's said there.
Except somebody did leak the conversation — and told Jossip about Immelt's thoughts on black men and women. We'll give you a hint: He only trusts them as far as he can throw them.
At the panel, O'Brien asked Immelt about diversity at NBC Universal — primarily, its lack of it.
Immelt responded, according to our tipster, that he hires who he is "comfortable with." He followed up that statement by listing, in order, the "type" of people he trusts. And they are:
1) White Men
2) White Women
3) Black Men
4) Black Women
You're not mistaken. Immelt listed, in front of a room full of black executives, the type of people he trusts in order of race and gender. By his own admission, this is a guy who would trust disgraced former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling more than he would Michelle Obama. (An extreme conclusion by our own admission, but you get the idea.)
The audience, we're told, "was gasping and people were surprised how he dug himself deeper. He was completely tone deaf" to the type of comments he just made. "But since these are high ranking Black corporate executives, the outrage was not very outward."
Whether Immelt, who has led GE since 2001, would like to revise his statement is up to him. (Says GE's publicist Megan Parker: "We have yet to confirm what was actually said at the conference,??however we??can confirm??Jeff Immelt's well-known commitment to diversity. Jeff's commitment is exemplified by the fact that he was at the conference.")
But not only does it show his obvious bigotry, his statement demonstrates his complete lack of tact as a man who is paid nearly $20 million to run a $239 billion global corporation. Even if he does, truly at his core, feel this way about black men and women (and, well, white women too), it is stupid to say it in public. And he should know better that "off the record," in front of a crowd, means little.
Meanwhile, we spoke with O'Brien, who moderates the conference every year, and who told us "the conversations every year at this conference are off the record." As such, she wouldn't comment further to confirm or deny our report. Other attendees, adhering to the conference's off the record rules, are also unlikely to comment.
Update: Read the comments from former GE execs Lloyd Trotter and Art Harper, who dispute our version of events. Our source stands behind the original claim.