Zucker on Olbermann’s O’Reilly Feud: “He Knows That I Wish It Weren’t So Personal”

By SteveK 

Newsweek’s Johnnie L. Roberts talks to NBCU CEO Jeff Zucker in a web exclusive Q&A about MSNBC, Keith Olbermann and more.

Roberts asks Zucker if he’s “inclined to halt” the growing animosity between Olbermann and FNC’s Bill O’Reilly. “It’s become part of the fabric of both of those shows, and it probably would be better if it weren’t personal. And I wish it weren’t so personal,” he says.

But asked if he’s “inclined to dial it down,” Zucker says: “I trust Keith’s instincts to know what’s right. He knows that I wish it weren’t so personal.”

Zucker had high praise for the cable network. “I don’t think you realize how strong MSNBC is,” he said. “MSNBC used to be an also-ran; it changed the entire game last year. It’s attracted an entirely new audience.”

Click continued to see Zucker’s thoughts on whether perceived MSNBC bias damages NBC’s brand and if he’d consider giving Gov. Sarah Palin a show…

Of perceived MSNBC bias affecting NBC News:

First, there is absolutely no evidence, and probably evidence to the contrary, that it’s had any adverse impact on NBC News. “NBC Nightly News,” “Today” show and “Meet the Press” all now enjoy wider margins of victory over their competition than they did 18 months ago before that perception was widely held. Secondly, what do I think about that perception of MSNBC? It’s driven by a couple of programs in primetime that have a very strong point of view, a real voice and a real audience. The rest of MSNBC programming is what it has always been — traditional reporting. I believe that the audience that comes to MSNBC and NBC is fully capable of distinguishing between the two.

Whether he’d offer Palin a show:

It’s an interesting suggestion. I think she’s a big personality who obviously is very likeable and those are qualities that go a long way in television.