Friday, July 31, 2009

Peace Plan Brokered in Olbermann, O'Reilly Cable Flame War!

Well, at least this battle was across partisan lines!

From the New York Times, "
Truce Reached in Cable News Feud":
It was a media cage fight, televised every weeknight at 8 p.m. But the match was halted when the blood started to spray executives in the high-priced seats.

For years Keith Olbermann of MSNBC had savaged his prime-time nemesis Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel and accused Fox of journalistic malpractice almost nightly. Mr. O’Reilly in turn criticized Mr. Olbermann’s bosses and led an exceptional campaign against General Electric, the parent company of MSNBC.

It was perhaps the fiercest media feud of the decade and by this year, their bosses had had enough. But it took a fellow television personality with a neutral perspective to bring it to an end.

At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in May, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, about the feud.

Both moguls expressed regret over the venomous culture between the two networks. Then, even though the feud had increased the viewing audience of both programs, they instructed lieutenants to arrange a cease-fire, according to four people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal.

In early June, the combat stopped, and MSNBC and Fox, for the most part, found other targets for their verbal missiles (Hello, CNN).

“It was time to grow up,” a senior employee of one of the companies said.

The rapprochement — not acknowledged by the parties until now — showcased how a personal and commercial battle between two men could create real consequences for their parent corporations. A G.E. shareholders’ meeting, for instance, was overrun by critics of MSNBC (and one of Mr. O’Reilly’s producers) last April.

“We all recognize that a certain level of civility needed to be introduced into the public discussion,” Gary Sheffer, a spokesman for G.E., said this week. “We’re happy that has happened.”

The parent companies declined to comment directly on the details of the cease-fire, which was led by Jeff Zucker, the chief executive of NBC Universal, and Gary Ginsberg, an executive vice president who oversees corporate affairs at the News Corporation.

Mr. Olbermann, who is on vacation, said by e-mail message, “I am party to no deal,” adding that he would not have been included in any conversations between G.E. and the News Corporation. Fox News said it would not comment.
I like this part, about Bill O'Reilly:
The conservative-leaning Mr. O’Reilly has turned “The O’Reilly Factor” into a profit center for the News Corporation by blitzing his opponents and espousing his opinions unapologetically.

It turns out that PBS's Charlie Rose served as a mediator to bring both sides together and negotiate a cease-fire.

My first thought? Robert Stacy McCain's no Charlie Rose! (See, "Nine Days in July: Nuclear Diplomacy in the Conservative Blogosphere").

But I REALLY like this, "Donald Douglas is trying to be the wingnut blogosphere's Bill O'Reilly."

Maybe that has something to do with this, from Gawker, "Pervy Flesh-Peddler Bill O'Reilly Plays Erin Andrews Peephole Video On-Air."

That O'Reilly's something! Actually, dude knows real news when he sees it!

And of course, "Fox Wins"! Just like American Power!

Could be some differences of opinion, like from the sore losers at Gawker (Deadspin's sister-publication), "NBC Agrees to Muzzle Journalists Following Fox News Pressure."

But, onward and upward!

Hat Tip: Memeorandum.


Dave said...

I'll preface this by acknowledging that I am not exactly a BOR fan, but I do like the fact that he will stand up for abused children when no one else will.

However, there is one abused child BOR should have ignored entirely.

Keith Olbermann.


Greywolfe said...

Neither man, Olbermann or O'Reilly, has one ounce of journalistic or intellectual honesty in their veins, anywhere. They are both political prostitutes that will say whatever they think their audience wants.

Bill is worse because he tries to have it both ways on any issue that even remotely touches Barry. Hell, at least the fat man with the College Dictionary rants from a consistantly liberal point of view.

So, as for the"Donald Douglas is trying to be the wingnut blogosphere's Bill O'Reilly" headline, I wouldn't be so fast to take it as a compliment. Even backhanded.

JBW said...

Once again Greywolfe, you and I agree on something. Both men are basically political hacks, although O'Reilly is worse for not adhering to his supposed principles.

I think that I might actually be able to enjoy your hat now...maybe.

repsac3 said...

JBW, I'm telling you... It's a damned cool hat.

Curious what folks here think about the implications of allowing the corporate parents to dictate what the news divisions--and thus their news and opinion hosts--can and cannot say...

Whatever you think about Olbermann &/or O'Reilly, what does it say when they are kept from speaking about certain issues and events because it's bad for GE and NewsCorp business?

I know how you folks feel about Glenn Greenwald, but I can't help thinkin' that even you would agree with much of what he says, here: GE's silencing of Olbermann and MSNBC's sleazy use of Richard Wolffe - Glenn Greenwald -

It makes no difference what one thinks of O'Reilly's attacks on the corporate activities of GE or Olbermann's criticisms of O'Reilly and Fox News. Whatever one's views on that are -- and I watch neither show very often -- those are perfectly legitimate subjects for news reporting and commentary, and the corporate decree to stop commenting on those topics is nothing less than corporate censorship. A reader last night put it this way by email:

It's interesting and somewhat shocking to me that a NYT article wouldn't even mention the effect on the hosts' journalistic freedom. . . . I assume that both Olbermann and O'Reilly would not have agreed to the truce, as the battle is ratings gold for both of them, and I'm sure they frankly hate each other and enjoy it.

The sad truth is that what Olbermann and O'Reilly were doing in this particular instance was one of the rare examples of good journalism on these types of shows. Olbermann was holding O'Reilly's feet to the fire about his repeated falsehoods and embarrassing positions. In turn, O'Reilly was giving the public accurate and disturbing information about General Electric, including extensive technology dealings with Iran. In my personal opinion, this was one of the rare useful pieces of information O'Reilly ever presented to his audience, and Olbermann was there to show how lousy the rest of O'Reilly's information was. Though it was in the context of a bitter feud, the two men were actually engaging in real journalism, at least in this case.

dave in boca said...

At least BOR has eyeballs to brag about. And Fox's entire evening lineup gets more viewers than either CNN or NBC combined most nights.

And give FoxNEWS credit for at least having some semblance of both sides of a question examined. You don't get that on MSNBC, even with Pat Buchanan...

Back in the day, I worked for three networks and PBS for short periods and never got the impression that journalistic integrity was high on any of their lists of priorities. Still the same twenty years later.