Manufacturing consent: Execs called off Olbermann/O'Reilly feud
The high-profile feud between MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly was great for the shows' respective ratings.
So, the suits were happy to let the feud continue. That is, until O'Reilly started assailing MSNBC's parent company, General Electric, for doing business with Iran.
The O'Reilly crusade against GE had real-world consequences. A GE shareholders meeting was reportedly overrun with Iran critics and an O'Reilly producer.
General Electric was not amused. So, a sitdown was arranged to bring the feud to an end, even though it was making money for both MSNBC and Fox News:
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. [NYT]
Executives told the New York Times that the feud was called off specifically because it threatened the business interests of GE and the News Corporation.
Olbermann denies that he's a party to any deal, but the verbal barbs have tapered off.
As Glenn Greenwald points out, it's ironic that Charlie Rose, who brokered the deal, has publicly dismissed the idea that parent corporations slant TV coverage for the benefit of the larger enterprise.