GE Fondly Recalls Its Own 'Reagan Era'





General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt hasn't been popular with conservatives of late. GE was a major backer of the cap-and-trade climate bill that passed the House last year, in part because the capping of carbon emissions would boost demand for its wind turbines and solar panels....

All the more noteworthy, then, is Mr. Immelt latest move, which is likely to improve his P.R. image with conservatives. Last month, he announced GE would give $15 million to mark the 100th anniversary of one of its former employees: Ronald Reagan, who spent eight years hosting "General Electric Theater" on CBS and visiting the company's plants as a corporate ambassador.

The money will go to support a new scholars program as well as the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration, which among other things will update the museum at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California. Included with the overhauled museum will be a General Electric theater that will focus on Reagan's career in radio, television and film.

That career reached an important turning point when Reagan began hosting the top-rated show for GE in 1954. In addition to his hosting duties, Reagan would tour GE's 139 plants around the country, eventually spending 4,000 hours before a GE microphone giving talks that started out with the standard Hollywood patter but ended with the former liberal actor giving full-throated warnings about Big Government. "GE tours became almost a post-graduate course in political science for me . . . ," Reagan later wrote. "By 1960 I had completed the process of self-conversion [to conservatism]."...

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