In Depth: The Story Behind the FNC/MSNBC Feud Tampdown…
The New York Times’ Brian Stelter manages to break through the barrier I’ve been butting my head against for several months and is the first MSM writer to note that there was a high level pow-wow between elements at News Corp. and GE to clamp down on the rhetoric.
News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch and General Electric chief Jeffrey Immelt met up at — appropriately enough — the Microsoft CEO summit in Redmond, Wash., to figure out how to diffuse tensions between the two channels, Company Town has learned. The primary focus of the chit-chat was the back-and-forth sniping between MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Fox’s Bill O’Reilly. The two often exchange insults, Olbermann by name, O’Reilly by insinuation.
If Immelt and Murdoch took their message of peace and love back to their respective news channels, it doesn’t seem to have taken. Olbermann, who generally is the aggressor, has been attacking Fox News and O’Reilly on a regular basis. O’Reilly still takes occasional shots at MSNBC, NBC and General Electric.
What Stelter doesn’t say: ICN reported this story first. I tweeted about this way back on June 7th after being tipped off by a source connected to deep inside NBC Universal. And Stelter is a subscriber to my Twitter feed.
There’s a rumor running around that Olbermann’s boycott of O’Reilly was part of a GE mandate to cut back criticism of FNC.
At the time, the story relayed to me was lacking in focus and had some incorrect info (it was originally tied to a 1 million dollar GE ad buy on FNC…which turned out later to be incorrect…the ad buy had nothing to do with it.) that caused me to dismiss it (which is why it wound up on Twitter instead of the blog). Another factor was the boycott had only been instituted a couple of weeks earlier and it was too soon to note with any certainty a dialing back in the cross network heat. It wasn’t until months later when it was obvious the heat had noticeably decreased and someone came around here asking questions about those Tweets that I revisited the issue and asked my source if they had any new information. This time a chronology emerged which made the story seem more likely. The thrust of the story being pushed was that Olbermann’s “boycott” of O’Reilly was a “sham”, that it was just a means to follow through on the tamp down in hostilities ordered from above. I wasn’t so much interested in that angle as I was in the fact that News Corp. and GE had both agreed to dial the heat back. But I couldn’t get anywhere in advancing the story to the point that I would be comfortable putting it up on the blog. So I give Stelter credit for being able get to the “end zone”.
What will be interesting to see going forward is, now that the story is out in the open, whether things stay dialed back. Also worth noting will be to see if anyone starts posturing over how this went down. This isn’t a story that was in either FNC’s or MSNBC’s interest in getting out because both networks have followers who detest the other and it probably wouldn’t play too well with them if they knew that their networks were now restraining themselves. Now that it is out, what will the reaction be, if any?
Update: The LA Times’ Joe Flint has the story too. If chronology is important Flint appears to have put up the story before Stelter but Stelter’s has much more details.