Sunday, August 02, 2009

Voices From Above Silence a Cable TV Feud

From the New York Times, the inside scoop on the end of the Keith Olbermann/Bill O'Reilly war:

It was perhaps the fiercest media feud of the decade and by this year, their bosses had had enough. But it took a fellow television personality with a neutral perspective to help bring it to at least a temporary end.

At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in mid-May, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, about the feud.

Both moguls expressed regret over the venomous culture between the networks and the increasingly personal nature of the barbs. Days later, even though the feud had increased the audience of both programs, their lieutenants arranged a cease-fire, according to four people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal.

In early June, the combat stopped, and MSNBC and Fox, for the most part, found other targets for their verbal missiles (Hello, CNN).

“It was time to grow up,” a senior employee of one of the companies said.

More here.

Yeah, I was starting to wonder how long the free hookers and beer would last.

For a while there, I've been able to say that ideologically analyzing the corporate media landscape has, as of late, become more problematic: you can make your arguments one way or the other, but MSNBC really has morphed into the formerly imaginary "liberal media" that the right wing has been railing about for many years now. That is, the "liberal media," being pro-government and pro-big business, and therefore conservative, have never existed, except in the paranoid minds of conservatives. Since MSNBC hired Olbermann, Maddow, and now Ed Schultz, it's not so absolute anymore.

But this General Electric imposed "truce" between O'Reilly and Olbermann is a stark reminder that all this liberal television fun exists only as long as NBC's parent company, deeply entrenched within the military/industrial/entertainment complex, believes MSNBC's antics are both profitable and unthreatening to the corporate establishment. That is, this left-leaning TV news anomoly could be gone faster than you can say "Donohue," if G.E. decides it has become troublesome.

I mean, that's really the ultimate problem with corporate ownership of news reporting organizations: if you're too critical of the corporate business model or its interests, you get the axe. Apparently, going after Fox darling O'Reilly came close to that. So, poof, no more attacks on the big butthole.

Oh well. There's always listener and viewer supported Democracy Now fighting the good fight. No corporate influence there, I guarantee it.