It has been a full week since news of a deal between News Corp. and GE (or, more specifically, between Fox News and MSNBC) broke, and the story continues to evolve.
Today, The Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz reveals some behind-the-scenes insight about the “war” – and the revelations continue to hurt MSNBC host Keith Olbermann far more than his FNC foil, Bill O’Reilly.
Here’s the key passage in Kurtz’ piece:
But the war was just beginning at MSNBC, where an opinionated culture is often at odds with NBC News. The day after Olbermann’s comments about the Tiller slaying, executives convened a large meeting and talked about Fox and the importance of striking the right on-air tone. Olbermann later expressed a willingness to make minor adjustments in his style, but he and his allies, concerned about setting a precedent, dug in for a fight. Olbermann left Zucker and executives with the impression that he might quit if the dispute wasn’t resolved to his satisfaction.
Olbermann has threatened to quit, and has actually done so on several occasions. The seed is now planted in this story, and the implication fuels the fire…that may be headed toward meltdown.
The meeting Kurtz writes about happened in June, but fast forward to this week, and Monday’s attack on Fox from Olbermann.
Fox felt the agreement had been shattered. “This is more of an internal issue that NBC and GE need to work through,” a Fox spokesman said. Fox executives disputed the contention of some NBC officials that any understanding was amorphous. “There was an agreement for no personal attacks,” one said. GE and NBC declined to comment.
The personal attacks then returned Wednesday from O’Reilly, in a direct cause-and-effect moment. And if Olbermann fires back at FNC, thus bothering both his bosses and O’Reilly, expect a similar retaliation. There’s no way out – Olbermann has to change his focus away from Fox, and thus face alienating some of his hardcore fans. He did a good job with that later this week – last night was attack #3 on CNN’s Lou Dobbs. But Dobbs is not the same type of foe as O’Reilly – mainly, he’s not nearly as popular.
In April, I knew vaguely that Richard Wolffe had gone to work for a non-news firm, and that’s about the last I heard of it. It was entirely concurrent with my mother’s fatal illness, and I turned it over entirely to my management team. My first awareness that this was more than just a non-news job, was this week.
If Jonathan Berr, whoever he is, does not like my prioritizing caring for my mother and dealing with her death, and then doing as many shows as I could, ahead of vetting the comments of our analysts and my management team, frankly, I feel sorry for him. Getting myself through those two months were, and are, more important than what is still being investigated about Richard.
Wow. It’s not clear how this will end – but it’s not looking like it will end well.