Originally published: August 2, 2009
Last updated: August 2, 2009 - 12:44pm
Owners never tell journalists what to do, right? A look at the running cable news feud between MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly. No, not the ratings war which is the only thing that counts in cable news, right? For years Olbermann had savaged his prime-time nemesis O'Reilly and accused Fox of journalistic malpractice almost nightly. O'Reilly in turn criticized 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).
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