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August 01, 2009

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.


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Regardless of what you think of O'Reilly's views, you have to admit that it was great to having him skewer Immelt and GE so publicly at such a prominent microphone.

Missing blonde stories? Check. Truth to power? No. Can't have that.

Damn right it was great for O'Reilly to expose GE's dealings in Iran. Props to him.

Murdoch is picking up way too many enemy. News corp. maybe big, but it's no GE.

speaking of transnational conglomerate. Remember when Iranian regime change supporter suddenly start attacking Nokia and Siemens. Siemens is gigantic, the kind of corporation that can literally shut down a government sincee they created a lot of utility grids equipments and telecomunication.

Well Chuck Schumer learns fairly quickly to shut up about Siemens. (I am sure German government brought in full weight behind Siemens too.)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't MSNBC say exactly nothing about the Cramer/Stewart showdown? I read that even Maddow and Olbermann ignored the episode.

Its always touching to see a feuding pair of corporate oligarchs learn, once again, how many interests they share in common. Just imagine how much more inspiring it would be if they weren't pissing on the rest of us!

Lindsay Beyerstein -

Iran is more democratic than China or Saudi Arabia.

Is it wrong for companies to do business with those countries?

I don't think it's necessarily wrong to do business with Iran. But I approve of media keeping tabs on big companies. The idea of Bill O'Reilly getting under the skin of GE makes me happy.

If there is nothing illegal or unethical about GE's business with Iran, then Bill O'Reilly demonizing the GE CEO over it doesn't enlighten the public.

GE likes to present itself to the public as a respectable company that does great things. If they do business with such a reprehensible regime, I want to know about it.

Everyone knows that all companies do business with China, and that many do business in Saudi. But few would have known that the big GE did business in the country so openly hostile.

The cranky old bastard did a great thing, maybe for the only time, by personally attacking the gangsters at the head of one of the largest corporations. It will never happen again - Murdoch, Immelt and cuddly ole Charlie Rose put an end to it.

Shame on Charlie Rose for his leading role in this shushng of an irritant to corporate America.

I read that even Maddow and Olbermann ignored the episode.

Come on, Alon -- a little effort? It would have taken you aprroximately 3 seconds of Googling to determine that that wasn't true.

Rachel Maddow Show - Rachel does a process postmortem on the Stewart-Cramer takedown

Did Fox cover Halliburton working with Iran?

Sorry, Maddow did mention the episode - without saying what it was even about. That's somewhat less abominable than I thought - thanks for the link.

And Eric, companies that bolster Chinese authoritarianism have caught flak from human rights people before. Yahoo, which gave the PRC information that led to the arrest of pro-democracy activists, got skewered for it in an article on the New York Times, which compared its behavior in China negatively with Google and Microsoft's. Bombardier, whose sole crime was building trains to be used on the rail line to Lhasa, got reamed for participating in the colonization of Tibet. I don't think it's much different from how human rights advocates are attacking Siemens and Nokia now for providing Iran with the technology to track dissenters.

Under the Chinese government, bad as it is, hundreds of millions of people have moved from poverty to middle class existence. If you don't challenge the government, they'll pretty much leave you alone.

Under the mullahs, what good has happened to the Iranian people?

Bad as it is, I'd live in China any day if the other choice was the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Under the mullahs, what good has happened to the Iranian people?
Posted by: The Phantom | August 01, 2009 at 07:32 PM

Election in Iran maybe? (compare this to Saudi, Kuwait,...)

and they don't get blown to pieces (like Iraq) despite being attack by US supported Saddam war.

They support Hezbollah. Whatever you want to believe about Hezbollah, they are de facto force in Southern lebanon and win the occupation war.

They are not exactly Sweden, but they certainly is independent and appear to have bigger control of their own destiny than the so called "western allies in middle east. (Egypt, Saudi, Kuwait... etc.)

What does Saudi, Kuwait and Egypt have to show? stagnant autocratic country, petro dollar and complete impotency in arab Israel/palestine war?

Iran is stagnant as well; the lack of an economy apart from oil is one of the main grievances that led the urban middle class to support reformists. And it has elections, but the conservatives have stolen them twice in a row. It's every bit as authoritarian as China and Saudi Arabia, complete with cadres of maladjusted young men beating dissidents.

There are very few truly totalitarian countries - outside Africa, the only ones that come to mind are North Korea and Myanmar, and I think also Syria, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. The other autocracies really do leave people alone if they keep their heads down.

As for the argument that Chinese authoritarianism is fine because it grows the economy, that might appeal to people in Shanghai and Beijing, but Tibetans and Uighurs would dispute the idea that their lives are improving. And in reality, democracies are every bit as capable of generating fast GDP growth. South Korea, Taiwan, Chile, and Thailand all retained their impressive growth rates after switching from military-led autocracy to democracy. India has growth so impressive that it scares some Chinese people, who figure that if India manages 9% growth now with its dysfunctional government and colonial-era infrastructure, then who knows how fast it can grow if it gets competent administration.

Election in Iran maybe? (compare this to Saudi, Kuwait,...)

Yeah, that was some election there.

They support Hezbollah.
Do they get a share of Hezbollah's drug trade profits?

They get welfare from Hezbollah's charity network - I have no idea where that money ultimately comes from.

Regardless of what you think of O'Reilly's views, you have to admit that it was great to having him skewer Immelt and GE so publicly at such a prominent microphone.

Except that it wasn't about "speaking truth to power." It was telling GE, "tell your news channel to lay off me, or I'll go after your ass for not showing me respect." He doesn't care about "speaking truth to power," now, because, they backed down. They didn't back down over Iran. They backed down from criticizing him.

And so what I think of O'Reilly's views is actually pretty relevant: he doesn't care about "speaking truth to power." He just wants people to pimp for his political views, or he'll go after you.

He spoke truth to power, regardless of the motivation.

Now, thanks to the ultracynical Murdoch, along with Immelt, and Charlie Rose, there will be no more of that.

Now, thanks to the ultracynical Murdoch, along with Immelt, and Charlie Rose, there will be no more of that.

Which is just want O'Reilly wanted to begin with.

Keith Olbermann responds:

Alls I Can Say (9+ / 0-)

...(and if this doesn't sound like the ultimate self-promotion, I don't know what would, but them's the breaks)...

Watch tonight. You'll be pleasantly surprised, I hope.

As then-candidate Obama (not to make any undue self-comparisons) once added, with a laugh, after answering a complicated and doubting question from the New York Times editorial board: consider the possibility that I might know what I'm doing here.

Plus there's a Special Comment on health care. About fourteen minutes worth.
"If you're going through hell - keep going!" -- Winston Churchill

by Keith Olbermann on Mon Aug 03, 2009 at 09:49:52 AM PDT

FSM, he's a blowhard.

A blowhard has his hour. On KO's last night, he said the truce had been at his discretion, and let loose on O'R and Murdoch. He's a rainmaker for MSNBC, so I doubt they will fire him. May his strength, and audience share, increase.

He's got a long, long, long, long way to go before he is a competitor to O'Reilly and Fox. ( he has 1/3 O'Reilly's viewers I think ) He makes a lot of noise, but he's not really in the game

Meanwhile, CNN is marketing the fact that it doesn't have partisan screamers like O'Reilly and Olbermann on its network.

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