G.E. and News Corp. Said to Have Silenced Olbermann-O’Reilly Feud

By Andrew Gauthier 

The New York Times reported on Friday that an alleged truce had been established between MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. The deal was reportedly brokered not by the hosts themselves, but by the channels’ respective parent companies. The details of the mid-May peace talks between Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, are just now coming to light.

“For this war to stop, it meant fewer headaches on the corporate side,” one employee said.

“They’ve won their respective constituencies,” said a former member of MSNBC’s senior staff. “They don’t need to do this anymore, really.”


Beginning in late 2005, Mr. Olbermann was sniping regularly at Mr. O’Reilly, sometimes making him the subject of a segment called the “Worst Person in the World.” O’Reilly called his nemesis a “vicious smear merchant,” and frequently accused GE of conducting unpatriotic business dealings. More…

The feud was great for both shows’ ratings, leading some critics to wonder whose interests were really served by the cease-fire:

Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com:
“So here we have yet another example–perhaps the most glaring yet–of the corporations that own our largest media outlets controlling and censoring the content of their news organizations based on the unrelated interests of the parent corporation.” More…

Hal Boedeker, Orlando Sentinel:
“If corporations are dictating what these hosts can say about the competition, what else have G.E. and News Corp. demanded that these hosts and their colleagues avoid?… Ah, the corporate thin skins! These nitwits would put a price tag on the First Amendment.” More…

Aaron Barnhart, TVBarn:
“I believe that the Billo-Keith feud is, like ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ on hiatus, and will return someday with new episodes. And boy, I can’t wait for that. It’s one of my favorite shows!” More…