Two articles on npr.org are quite telling in their contrast.
In my last blog entry, I noted that the New York Times published an article by reporter Brian Stelter claiming that executives at News Corporation and General Electric, the parent companies of FOX News and MSNBC respectively, had arranged a cease-fire between Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann. Subsequent actions by Olbermann proved that article to be false. So what did Stelter do?
He wrote another phony article!
Executives at two of the country’s largest media companies are still trying to salvage what was essentially a cease-fire between MSNBC and the Fox News Channel.
Fox News executives felt that MSNBC had broken the deal when Keith Olbermann, in an apparent show of independence, insulted his 8 p.m. rival, Bill O’Reilly, and the News Corporation’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch, on Monday. On his show, “Countdown,” Mr. Olbermann called Mr. O’Reilly a “racist clown.”
Mr. O’Reilly responded with his own attack two days later on his program, “The O’Reilly Factor,” where he claimed that G.E., through MSNBC, was “promoting the election of Barack Obama and then seeking to profit from his policies.”
The chief executives at General Electric, whose NBC News division operates MSNBC, and News Corporation, which owns Fox News, reached an unusual agreement last spring to halt the regular personal assaults on each other’s channels.
Eric Burns, the former host of Fox’s media criticism show “Fox News Watch” and the author of “All the News Unfit to Print,” said, “Even in an age where there seemed to be no boundaries, people at the very top of two networks thought, ‘Well, I guess there are boundaries, because they’ve been crossed.’ ”
But the agreement was strained almost from the start, according to employees at the channels, even though it mostly succeeded in stopping the vicious personal attacks lobbed by the two hosts until this week.
Despite the renewed tensions, Mr. Murdoch and his counterpart at G.E., Jeffrey R. Immelt, are still seeking a truce in a feud that has embarrassed both companies, said three employees at the companies with direct knowledge of the situation. Mr. Murdoch was said to be particularly incensed by Mr. Olbermann’s and Mr. O’Reilly’s sniping.
The deal extends beyond the prime-time hour that Mr. Olbermann and Mr. O’Reilly occupy. Employees of daytime programs on MSNBC were specifically told by executives not to mention Fox hosts in segments critical of conservative media figures, according to two staff members. The employees requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal matters.
In a statement, G.E. said, “While both companies agreed that the tone should be more civil, no one at G.E. told anyone at NBC News or MSNBC how to report the news.”
Some Fox employees said they were told in June and July not to flagrantly criticize General Electric. Fox said in a statement Friday, “This has nothing to do with preventing anyone from practicing journalism or interfering with freedom of speech — this is about corporate responsibility. We’ve never suppressed any stories about NBC or G.E. — both organizations are covered as news warrants.”
Still, some watchdog groups said the months-long cease-fire challenged the claims that the two media companies did not interfere in their on-air content.
The advocacy group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting asked its supporters on Friday to contact G.E., urging it to renounce the agreement with Fox.
Jeff Cohen, the founder of the group, said the deal between the two networks’ parent companies was a reason to be wary of corporate-owned TV news.
“It should remind news consumers of who calls the tune and pays the bills — and that TV reporters and even loud-mouthed commentators have corporate bosses whose interests are often not about unbridled journalism,” Mr. Cohen said.
Joan Walsh, the editor of Salon.com, said Thursday that it appeared that “the owners of two large news organizations colluded to make sure their audience got less, not more, information, and to promote their business interests, not the public interest.”
She asked, “How is it any different from a media organization making a deal with a politician not to expose a scandal in exchange for a political favor? We’d call that corruption, and I think this is the same thing.”
The executives had sought for years to tamp down the attacks by Mr. Olbermann and Mr. O’Reilly, to little success. Frustrated by the refusal by NBC’s chief executive, Jeffrey Zucker, to halt the attacks on Mr. O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News, personally instructed Mr. O’Reilly’s program to aim at Mr. Immelt, people familiar with the situation said.
Peace talks, such as they were, resumed in the spring between G.E. and News Corporation executives. At a lunch in April, Mr. Ailes and Mr. Immelt agreed to tone down the attacks. It was not visible to viewers until after Mr. Immelt and Mr. Murdoch shook hands at an off-the-record conference sponsored by Microsoft in May and word of a cease-fire trickled down to both news divisions.
Mr. Olbermann told viewers on June 1 that he would halt his jokes about Fox News because he believed that Fox had played a part in inciting the death of the abortion doctor George Tiller. Inside Fox, executives chuckled. They knew that a pact had already been struck by Mr. Olbermann’s bosses to end the feud.
In the months after, when MSNBC would say something that strained the agreement, Fox News would respond accordingly, and vice versa.
In July, after Mr. Olbermann condemned Fox’s Glenn Beck for letting a guest assert that a terrorist attack in the United States might be a good thing, Mr. Beck booked a segment about G.E. and declared that a “merger between G.E. and the Obama administration” was “nearly complete.”
After the detente was reported by The Times on Monday, the fighting resumed and Mr. Olbermann claimed there was no deal among the parent companies. That was met by heated skepticism among bloggers.
Two days later, Mr. O’Reilly had his turn. His news hook: The Securities and Exchange Commission had fined G.E. $50 million on charges of misleading investors. And on Thursday, Mr. O’Reilly showed Mr. Immelt’s and Mr. Zucker’s faces and wondered how long they could allow “this barbaric display” — that is an Olbermann reference — “under the NBC News banner.”
Mr. Olbermann and MSNBC declined to comment Friday.
It remains to be seen whether the personal attacks will be halted again. Fox’s stance on Friday suggested that the corporate criticism would not.
“At this point,” a Fox spokeswoman said Friday, “the entire situation is more about major issues at NBC and G.E. than it is about Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann.”
That is simply a load of bogus crap! Here is a clip from Countdown on June 17, 2009, in which Olbermann made yet another long and scathing attack on FOX News:
Then the very next night, he did it again:
And yet AGAIN on July 7:
Which would lead me to ask, “What cease fire?” It looks like it was business as usual, with the exception of any direct references to Bill O’Reilly. Again, it was because of the George Tiller issue that Olbermann felt he should refrain from making fun of his rival. But any attack on FOX News in general would certainly be an attack on O’Reilly by implication. You don’t make several attacks on a rival during a “cease-fire”.
Finally, on July 17, Olbermann attacked the notion of news organizations agreeing to cover up any actual news, calling it “slimy”. So if Stelter was correct, that means Olbermann is one of the world’s biggest hypocrites. By this time, if there HAD been a deal of some kind between News Corp. and G.E., Olbermann should have been fired.
The fighting wasn’t “resumed” because it never ended! BRIAN STELTER LIED!
So now, I will repeat my demand to the publishers of the New York Times: Brian Stelter committed libel and not only refused to apologize for it, but has repeated his offense. Any reporter that wrote as falsely as he did, I’d have fired within a week, and Stelter should be NOW!
This is the direct sequel to this earlier blog entry:
The feud between these TV news titans came to a head on June 1, 2009. The previous day, Dr. George Tiller, who O’Reilly had stigmatized for years as “Tiller the baby killer” because he was one of the few doctors who provided late-term abortions, was shot to death at his Lutheran church by an anti-abortion fanatic.
That prompted Bill O’Reilly to attempt some damage control:
At the same time, Keith Olbermann was dealing with the situation in his own way. He made his most bitter attack against O’Reilly and FOX News yet, accusing them of responsibility for Tiller’s death, and declared that FOX News needed to be subjected to a “quarantine”.
Thus, he made the decision to retire his mocking of O’Reilly, merely being content to quote his words. Frankly, I would have done the same. The whole situation was just too disgusting to make fun of.
And that’s where it stood until July 31, when this article was published in the New York Times:
Voices From Above Silence a Cable TV Feud
Keith Olbermann of MSNBC Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel regularly trade swipes at each other on their cable news shows.
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 help bring it to at least a temporary end.
At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in mid-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 networks and the increasingly personal nature of the barbs. Days later, even though the feud had increased the audience of both programs, their lieutenants arranged 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 reconciliation — 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 orchestrated in part 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.
Civility was not always the aim of Mr. Olbermann and Mr. O’Reilly, men who, in an industry of thin skins, are both famous for reacting to verbal pinpricks. Both host 8 p.m. programs on cable news in studios a few blocks apart in Midtown Manhattan.
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. He found his bête noire in the liberal-leaning Mr. Olbermann, the host of MSNBC’s “Countdown,” who saw in Mr. O’Reilly a regenerating target he nicknamed the “Bill-o the Clown.”
The 6-foot-4 Mr. Olbermann started sniping regularly at the also 6-foot-4 Mr. O’Reilly in late 2005, sometimes making him the subject of the “Countdown” segment, the “Worst Person in the World.” Mr. O’Reilly was also a stand-in for the perceived offenses of the top-rated Fox News.
By punching up at his higher-rated prey, Mr. Olbermann helped his own third-place cable news show. “Honestly, I should send him a check each week,” he remarked to a reporter three years ago. Fox noticed. Mr. Murdoch remarked to Esquire last year that “Keith Olbermann is trying to make a business out of destroying Bill O’Reilly.” Mr. O’Reilly refused to mention his critic by name on the “Factor,” deeming him a “vicious smear merchant,” but he regularly blamed Mr. Zucker for “ruining a once-great brand,” NBC.
In late 2007, Mr. O’Reilly had a young producer, Jesse Watters, ambush Mr. Immelt and ask about G.E.’s business in Iran, which is legal, and which includes sales of energy and medical technology. G.E. says it no longer does business in Iran.
Mr. O’Reilly continued to pour pressure on its corporate leaders, even saying on one program last year that “If my child were killed in Iraq, I would blame the likes of Jeffrey Immelt.” The resulting e-mail to G.E. from Mr. O’Reilly’s viewers was scathing.
The messages hit nerves on both sides. Mr. Immelt remarked to MSNBC staff members last summer that he would “never forgive Rupert Murdoch” for Fox’s behavior, according to two people who were present. In private phone calls, the Fox News chairman, Roger Ailes, told NBC officials to end the attacks.
In February, Mr. Zucker told Newsweek what he had told Mr. Olbermann privately: “I wish it weren’t so personal.” The previous year, Mr. Murdoch said that Mr. O’Reilly “shouldn’t be so sensitive” to the attacks lobbed by MSNBC.
Over time, G.E. and the News Corporation concluded that the fighting “wasn’t good for either parent,” said an NBC employee with direct knowledge of the situation. But the session hosted by Mr. Rose provided an opportunity for a reconciliation, sealed with a handshake between Mr. Immelt and Mr. Murdoch.
But like any title fight, the final round could not end without an attempted knockout. On June 1, the day after the abortion provider George Tiller was killed in Kansas, Mr. Olbermann took to the air to cite Mr. O’Reilly’s numerous references to “Tiller, the baby killer” and to announce that he would retire his caricature of Mr. O’Reilly.
“The goal here is to get this blindly irresponsible man and his ilk off the air,” he said.
The next day, Mr. O’Reilly made the extraordinary claim that “federal authorities have developed information about General Electric doing business with Iran, deadly business” and published Mr. Immelt’s e-mail address and mailing address, repeating it slowly for emphasis.
Then the attacks mostly stopped.
Shortly after, Phil Griffin, the MSNBC president, told producers that he wanted the channel’s other programs to follow Mr. Olbermann’s lead and restrain from criticizing Fox directly, according to two employees. At Fox News, some staff members were told to “be fair” to G.E.
The executives at both companies, it appears, were relieved. “For this war to stop, it meant fewer headaches on the corporate side,” one employee said.
Tensions still simmer between the two networks, however, and staff members have been unwilling or unable to stop the strife altogether. This week, for instance, the Fox host Glenn Beck called Mr. Obama a racist, prompting rebukes on a number of MSNBC shows. But for now, the daily back and forth has quieted.
“They’ve won their respective constituencies,” said a former member of MSNBC’s senior staff. “They don’t need to do this anymore, really.”
Olbermann was returning from a two week vacation. When he resumed hosting his show on August 3, he addressed that article directly:
He must have been furious! Had he kept his word and never made fun of Bill O’Reilly again, it would have made him look like a corporate shill, not a legitimate newsman. So in this case, he had to break his word in order to preserve his credibility!
And his action proved to be justified on August 11, when O’Reilly attacked General Electric the parent company of MSNBC:
Thus it appears there was no deal on the side of O’Reilly and FOX News as well. Olbermann shot back the next evening:
So now, I have just one question: Has Brian Stelter been fired from the New York Times yet?
Oh and by the way, Keith Olbermann would not need to do damage control if someone was insane enough to kill Bill O’Reilly. He already denounced one such threat made against his rival on August 19, 2008. That’s right, ONE YEAR AGO!
And that’s why Olbermann is the better man.
I first took notice of Keith Olbermann when I happened to see a video on YouTube of him condemning President Bush for his conduct during the Iraq War.
I thought that was quite amazing, but then I saw these special reports on Bill O’Reilly, which totally blew me away!
You can’t get more damning than that! There are only two possibilities: Either Olbermann slandered Bill O’Reilly (in which case Bill O and FOX News should have sued Keith O and MSNBC as a matter of honor), or he told the truth (in which case FOX News should have fired Bill O). There is no third option. The fact that no slander lawsuit was ever filed and that O’Reilly works at FOX News to this day shows beyond all reasonable doubt that FOX News is a channel with no integrity whatsoever.
Here’s another example of Olbermann busting O’Reilly for falsehoods relating to World War II:
And unlike Bill O, who never makes an apology for his mistaken statements, Keith O does! One evening, he slammed New York Times managing editor Bill Keller for not firing a reporter who had not only printed a false story, but had committed plagerism to boot!
But the very next night, Keith O apologized for his condemnation of Keller. Appearantly, Olbermann had never worked at that newspaper before and knew nothing beforehand about how it was run. So he practiced what he preached!
There is no question that MSNBC is slanted towards the Liberal perspective. I suspect that was done because of FOX News appealing so much to right-wingers, so MSNBC had to balance it out. FOX News certainly has no business calling itself “fair and balanced”, nor does Bill O’Reilly have any business calling his show a “no spin zone”. Look at how arrogantly he dealt with Richard Dawkins:
….and then with Kirk Cameron, treating him with kid gloves while continuing to bash Dawkins:
And he even got into a shouting match with Geraldo Rivera over illegal immigration and drunk driving! How unprofessional!
Meanwhile, Olbermann took on Wal-Mart for several days to expose its terrible wrongdoing towards a disabled former employee:
Until Wal-Mart was forced to back down:
Now, those blind and moronic FOX News fans who call Olbermann a liar, without specifying what he lied about, are YOU going to file a slander lawsuit against him? Is anyone? If not, SHUT UP! In matters of credibility and honor, Keith Olbermann beats anyone at FOX News hands down! The only reason you distrust Olbermann is political prejudice, the irrational assumption that somehow Conservatives have a monopoly on truth and virtues and therefore anyone non-Conservative must be misguided, dishonest, even evil. WRONG! Grow up and deal with real life and not the nationalistic crap you’ve been spoon fed since you were babies!
When I was a child, I had absolute faith in God, in my parents and my country, like most children tend to have. In 1979, I would watch the news and see reports about American hostages being taken in Iran, about the Shah being deposed, and about Iranians chanting “Death to America!”, and I couldn’t understand why. What had we Americans ever done to Iran? I got the impression that the Iranians were evil people who hated us just because we were different.
But years later, I attended college and it wasn’t until then that I finally learned the truth: that in 1953, we Americans, through the CIA, had helped overthrow a democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran and allowed the Shah to take absolute power there. Why? Because that Prime Minister had attempted to nationalize the oil fields owned and operated by British and American oil companies, in HIS OWN COUNTRY! WHAT ARROGANCE AND HYPOCRISY WE DISPLAYED BACK THEN! NO WONDER THE IRANIANS WERE SO ANGRY! But in 1979, these disgraceful facts were never revealed by the mainstream media. The implication was that the Islamic Revolution of Iran had occured for no logical reason. But that was a lie of omission.
If someone like Keith Olbermann had been around in 1979 reporting the political news and slamming reporters of other networks for screwing with the truth, perhaps we would have learned the truth about the Iranian situation much sooner and we the people would not have been stupid enough to elect Ronald Reagan as the next President of the United States.
In any case, it was me learning the truth about Iran and what we did to it that made me reject forever the Conservative Republican politics of my parents and most of my other relatives. I wised up, and it’s about time millions of Americans did also and stopped acting like SHEEP being led to their slaughter by the pied pipers of FOX News and the Republican leaders.
Keep up the good work, Keith Olbermann. This Honorable Skeptic salutes you and hopes to see you on the air for many years to come!