Saturday, August 01, 2009

Time to grow up?

Could one of cable TV's most famous feuds be winding down?

As I mentioned in a post a couple of years ago, anyone who watches either or both MSNBC and FOX News could not help but notice the near state of war between the two networks. The red hot core of the feud has been between FOX's Bill O' Reilly and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann. In another more polite era it might have been said that the two men cordially detest each other. Remove the "cordially" part and you probably have a pretty accurate picture of things. They have been taking shots at each other on the air for years. In fairness Olbermann has gone out of his way to make the feud highly personal by attacking Mr. O"Reilly ad hominem with sharply worded invective. However both sides have launched very caustic attacks on the journalistic integrity of their rival.

In any event it is being reported in various venues (including the NY Times) that the parent companies of the two networks have had enough. The top dogs at both networks have received orders from their corporate suzerains to throw a bucket of cold water on Olbermann and O'Reilly with the admonision to grow up and knock it off. It sounds like some people may have realized that this nightly blood bath was benefiting no one except CNN.


basilbeast said...

"ad hominem"


I generally find it distasteful how O'Reilly treats the guests on his show, the few times I watch it. e.g., his compadre Geraldo.

What's your opinion of O'Reilly wishing that terrorists blow parts of San Fran up?

There are other items I could remark upon, but I do not wish to make too much of a nuisance of myself.

I do find it more interesting that it is the corporate leadership that decides what will be shown on air or published as news.

Suppose O'Reilly catches Olbermann in a rather large fib, or vice versa? Will their mouths remain zipped?


John (Ad Orientem) said...

I think O'Reilly is a windbag. But I think the same thing of Olbermann. Neither are journalists. They are television op-ed people thinly disguised as journalists. I don't know the terms of the "truce." But the various sources I have read basically said both parties were told to knock it off. My guess is that if something really legitimate comes up that it would be addressed by someone other than the two persons at the heart of the feud.

As for the corporate weenies stepping in, I have no problem with that as long as they are correcting an abuse. There is a big difference between telling the TV people to stick to legitimate news and stop attacking by name other networks or personalities and trying to interfere in actual news coverage. If there were a serious effort at the latter I suspect at least some people would have resigned in protest. Also there was no hint of such in any of the reports I read.

Yours in ICXC

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Disguised as journalists? Oh. I missed that part.

basilbeast said...

"windbag", "weenie"?

Do you read Glenn Greenwald?

If I may, I just finished reading this a while ago and he wrote similar to what you wrote in reply.

Not entirely, but similarly.

But one of his readers wrote what I think is the center of this story:

It's interesting and somewhat shocking to me that a NYT article wouldn't even mention the effect on the hosts' journalistic freedom. . . . I assume that both Olbermann and O'Reilly would not have agreed to the truce, as the battle is ratings gold for both of them, and I'm sure they frankly hate each other and enjoy it.

The sad truth is that what Olbermann and O'Reilly were doing in this particular instance was one of the rare examples of good journalism on these types of shows. Olbermann was holding O'Reilly's feet to the fire about his repeated falsehoods and embarrassing positions. In turn, O'Reilly was giving the public accurate and disturbing information about General Electric, including extensive technology dealings with Iran. In my personal opinion, this was one of the rare useful pieces of information O'Reilly ever presented to his audience, and Olbermann was there to show how lousy the rest of O'Reilly's information was. Though it was in the context of a bitter feud, the two men were actually engaging in real journalism, at least in this case.


J. L. Watts said...

I don't think that Keith O would call himself a journalist, unlike Bill O'. I watch, rarely now, MSNBC, but I did catch a few weeks ago, after the abortionist murder, Keith essentially refusing to mention Bill O because he blamed the murder on Fox's rhetoric.