By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

More on Olbermann, Greenwald and Stelter

Glenn Greenwald has posted a statement from MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann as well as his own withering response regarding the cease-fire between MSNBC and Fox News. Here’s what Olbermann told Greenwald:

I honor Mr. Greenwald’s insight into the coverage of GE/NewsCorp talks, and have found nothing materially factually inaccurate about it. Fox and NewsCorp have continued a strategy of threat and blackmail by Rupert Murdoch, Roger Ailes, and Bill O’Reilly since at least 2004. But no matter what might have been reported by others besides Mr. Greenwald, and no matter what might have been thought around this industry, there’s no “deal.” I would never consent, and, fortunately, MSNBC and NBC News would never ask me to.

Greenwald then writes:

I certainly believe that Olbermann is telling the truth when he says he was never a party to any deal and that nobody at GE or MSNBC asked him to consent. That’s because GE executives didn’t care in the least if Olbermann consented and didn’t need his consent. They weren’t requesting that Olbermann agree to anything, and nobody — including the NYT’s [Brian] Stelter — ever claimed that Olbermann had agreed to any deal. What actually happened is exactly what I wrote: GE executives issued an order that Olbermann must refrain from criticizing O’Reilly, and Olbermann complied with that edict. That is why he stopped mentioning O’Reilly as of June 1.

Once the NYT exposed this deal between GE and News Corp., MSNBC executives allowed Olbermann to attack O’Reilly last night because neither Olbermann nor MSNBC could afford to have it appear that their top journalist was being muzzled by GE.

Greenwald has some useful links, too, so please read the whole thing. And yes, Olbermann owes Stelter an on-air apology.

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  1. lkcape

    Olberman comes off looking like a real fool. And MSNBC isn't making their life within the GE community any easier.I'm pretty confident that no apology will be forthcoming.Fox wins this one by sitting on the sideline.

  2. mike_b1

    Spoken like a true demagogue.Truth is, no one notices or cares about this, except for the parties involved.

  3. lkcape

    You seem to be glued to it!

  4. Michael Pahre

    Has anybody checked whether or not Olbermann attacked O'Reilly at any time during June or July?Given how regularly he attacks O'Reilly — usually by making him one of the three Worst Persons in the World — the absence of such attacks should have stuck out like 45 sore thumbs.If there aren't any examples, then it would appear that Olbermann agreed quietly to lay off O'Reilly, and that his denials won't be very credible.

  5. lkcape

    Wouldn't necessarily mean that he agreed…merely that he complied with the directive. Potential loss of salary could well be a strong motivation.

  6. O'Reilly

    MP, Olbermann didn't do any Bill-O bits during the period.lccape, Fox wins this one by sitting on the sideline.Fox was a party to the agreement. Did you read the story? It makes me wonder if you read any of the linked articles. Fox had agreed to not broadcast on the topic of GE business interests in Iran, and whether as a result, GE has culpability with regard to US servicemen's deaths in Iraq. Either it was never true and O'Reilly made the claim irresponsibly in order to pressure and damage GE as part of his feud with Olbermann or it was true and they sat on an important story to protect Bill-O. Either way, journalistic ethical principles were dispensed with in favor of other interests. It seems that the NYT story was the catalyst that enabled Olbermann to convince his GE overloards that the truce could not hold once revealed to the public for how it reflected on MSNBC journalism.

  7. O-FISH-L

    What, pray tell, is MSNBC?

  8. lkcape

    Every time Olberman opens his yap AFTER the agreement, Fox wins the issue.Don't YOU read what is written, or are you becoming like our favorite wing-nut and get your exercise by jumping to preconceptions?Olberman and MSNBC look like spiteful fools.

  9. mike_b1

    O-Fish and lkcape are the same person, right? Has anyone ever seen them together in their mom's basement?

  10. Peter Porcupine

    "Olberman and MSNBC look like spiteful fools."And they say appearances are misleading!(Mr. Toilet Paper – why do you feel a need to defend Olbermann? He's a buffoon, not unlike Limbaugh, without the occasional acorn…)

  11. Phil Gallagher

    I find it rather humorus that anyone would refer to Olbermman as a top journalist.One only need look at the ratings to determine that MSNBC in general and Olberman in particular are fringe broadcasts.

  12. mike_b1

    PP, What makes you even suggest that? I don't see any need to defend Olbermann. Unlike the GOP, I don't take my marching orders from talking heads. He's funny on the rare occasion I hear him. I couldn't even tell you what time he's on, however.

  13. Aaron Read

    Y'know, for many years the pubradio show Marketplace was substantially underwritten by GE. So much so that the theme music at the beginning incorporated the "we bring good things to life" motif.Then about 7 or 8 years ago, GE stopped all their financial support of the show. That must've sucked financially…but in retrospect, I think it probably helped Marketplace avoid a sticky situation. How can ANY journalistic media outlet run any sponsorships by GE without looking incredibly tainted right now?

  14. Aaron Read

    Come to think of it, though…ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) used to underwrite NPR quite a bit back in the 1990's.That was before NPR was one of many media outlets that exposed the Enron-like financial scandals that ADM was rife with for most of the previous two decades.

  15. lkcape

    Both Olberman and O'Reilly are "entertainers".Journalism has nothing to do with it.Corporate has every right to muzzle if they feel their business interests are suffering.MSNBC, needs to stop pretending to be card-carrying journalists.BTW… Mr. Toilet-Paper is just entertaining, marginally, but entertaining.

  16. O-FISH-L

    mike_b1 said… O-Fish and lkcape are the same person, right? Has anyone ever seen them together in their mom's basement?—Mr. b_1, with you and Prof. Gates quickly reaching for the gutter with references to an adversary's mother, is that a liberal thing, a Cambridge thing or both? I know it's not a black thing and obviously you're not Yale or Harvard material so we can rule that out too. For the record, I'm not lkcape and don't know him/her. My mother lives in a luxury waterfront high-rise with no basement that I know of. I blog from the study of one of my many homes. Since the last time you were censured, I've been reluctant to follow Dan's recommendation to report inappropriate remarks. In fact, I think it's best that your material be allowed to stand unchecked as it speaks for itself. The anger and malice can't mask the weakness of your arguments.

  17. Dan Kennedy

    The level of civility in recent days leaves much to be desired. I'm at a conference this week and unable to deal with this in a comprehensive way. But I'm thinking about it.

  18. Nial Liszt

    **Mr. Toilet Paper …**PP and Ikcape– Please squeeze the "shaman".

  19. lkcape

    Love your Boston accent.

  20. Michael Pahre

    Not to beat a dead horse yet again, but…Olbermann said on June 1, 2009 that he wasn't going to be caricaturing O'Reilly anymore (via funny names, funny pictures, or funny voices), NOT that he wasn't going to mention O'Reilly anymore:"So as of this show‘s end, I will retire the name, the photograph, and the caricature. The words may still be quoted in the future as developments dictate." [transcript at media blog at National Review]Note that Greg Pollowitz at the National Review inferred from this statement — as did I when I heard it back then on Olbermann's program — that "O'Reilly will still be on Worst Person in the World, Olbermann just won't use a funny voice when announcing it."So, if Olbermann really hasn't mentioned O'Reilly at all in the intervening 45 shows, then he appears to have gone substantially beyond what he indicated on June 1. I can't imagine that Olbermann didn't hear a single word that came out of O'Reilly's mouth since June 1st that he wouldn't want to mention or debunk (with a straight face).Methinks Olbermann has not being straight with his audience — both on June 1st and since the NY Times article ran a few days ago.

  21. O'Reilly

    Dan, your readers, in particular the two right-of-center wingnuts, don't want to discuss the facts of the issue, and considerations like journalistic independence, transparency, and corporate influence. Contributing to your comments section at this point time amounts to little more than fielding insults. Clean it up and I'll come back to join in a conversation about the topic. You were ahead of the curve on this story. Jay Rosen, Sirota, and Greenwald all referred to your analysis, and favorably so. Kudos to the journalism prof from NE.Next time you see an opening, how about digging into the topic of 'Contempt of Cop' – being arrested for doing no more than irritating an officer, and 'testilying' – falsifying police records, apparently a common practice in the BPD and one well-known recent incident in Cambridge.

  22. O-FISH-L

    O'Reilly said: Dan, your readers, in particular the two right-of-center wingnuts, don't want to discuss the facts of the issue…—Wingnuts? Pot, kettle?

  23. O'Reilly

    University of Illinois Professor Robert McCheseny made the following findings — using a Factiva search — that were sent to me [Glenn Greenwald] via email: Olbermann had criticized O'Reilly 40 times on air from February-May 2009, and had made O'Reilly one of his "worst persons in the world" 23 times. In June and July O'Reilly received only one negative mention, in early June, and never made the worst person list. Moreover, Olbermann criticized Rupert Murdoch 25 times on his program between February and May 2009, and only once in June and July. Conversely, O'Reilly went from making 27 negative mentions of General Electric in February-May 2009, to just two in June and none in

  24. O'Reilly

    O-Fish – i wasn't talking about you. funny that you thought i was.

  25. Amused

    Just wondering why Greenwald is assumed to be correct and Olberman assumed to be wrong to the extent that an apology to Stelter is warranted. Not-for-attribution e-mails? Is that the standard? The Times piece was a bit shallow for not presenting a picture of how things work in getting the signature prime-time news programs on the air — and what the role of the host is in that process.Who issued the order and, more importantly, how was it issued? Directly to Olberman or to producers or news executives? How does stuff get on the air at Countdown, is Olberman's word final? How high up the MSNBC food chain are content decisions approved or reviewed? Has Olberman ever been pressured by the corporate side, either before or after taking aposition? Who is involved in the normal decision-making process for content at both Fox and MSNBC? I think we're seeing another of those all-too-famililar examples of something "picked up in the blogosphere" where facts reported by others are parsed into new conclusions and old-fashioned reporting retreats further into the background in favor of commentary and, god help us, "analysis." Journalism would be served best with lot more reporting, unfortunately sometimes process needs to be part of the story, as unsexy as it is..

  26. lkcape

    Gee, O'Reilly, I thought you had taken your keyboard and monitor and gone home…or so you implied, above.Q: Does it really matter how the message to Olberman was delivered and by whom?Or is the focus on "the process" a way, however subtle, of moving the spotlight off of the spin that Olberman and apologists are trying to induce?The core issue remains whether or not Olberman is being disingenuous no matter how many squirrels are dragged across the track..I agree, "journalism" would be better served by more reporting and less analysis, and both protagonists in this little tempest-in-a-television are ones who fail miserably at achieving either.Your mistake is in thinking that these two esteemed cartoons are journalists. They aspire to the title but have a a log way to go.

  27. Michael Pahre

    @ O'Reilly:Thanks for finding the actual data on Olbermann's references to [Bill] O'Reilly. The O'Reilly data are equally interesting.Where is Bill O'Reilly in all this? Sounds like he has similarly given in to corporate-dictated censorship. Anyone know what he is saying about the brouhaha and his role in it?

  28. Peter Porcupine

    Mr. Pahre – not sure in general, but happen to be watching the Factor right now…he just called the heads of GE 'barbarians' for allowing NBC to attack Lou Dobbs' wife. Complete with scary head shots of said executives.Looks like detente is over…

  29. O'Reilly

    I like O'Reilly's GE barbarians rant but you don't have to be a genius to recognize he's using his bully pulpit and there's more bully than truth being spoken. Olbermann did not attack Dobbs' wife unless you consider being identified as Hispanic an attack. Olbermann was calling hypocrisy on Dobbs' xenophobic "brown-people from south of the boarder" rants. However, this is still my favorite Bill O'Reilly story, "Hours after Bill O'Reilly accused he 33 year old female producer named Mackris of a multimillion dollar shakedown attempt, she fired back at O'Reilly by filing a lawsuit claiming that he subjected her to repeated instances of sexual harassment and spoke often, and explicitly, to her about phone sex, vibrators, threesomes, masturbation, the loss of his virginity, and sexual fantasies. In Mackris's complaint, an incredible page-turner that quotes O'Reilly, 55, on all sorts of lewd matters. Based on the extensive quotations cited in the complaint, it appears a safe bet that Mackris, 33, recorded some of O'Reilly's more steamy soliloquies. (Thank about it, Bill O'Reilly steamy soliloquies.) For example, we direct you to his Caribbean shower fantasies:Bill O'Reilly steamy soliloquies Caribbean shower fantasiesNow that is one expensive phone call.

  30. Tom Underwood

    PP – I'm surprised you heard Bill's NBC rant about Lou Dobbs' wife. He is so busy hawking "American Patriot" hats, bags, his website, his book ("A bold, fresh piece of crap" or something like that…)Complete idiot.At least Olbermann earns some points for not being a total whore.BTW – I'm dying for the person who leaked the O'Reilly meltdown on "Inside Edition" to get out another. A bully like him had to have had other episodes.

  31. lkcape

    "At least Olbermann earns some points for not being a total whore."Hmmm…Shades of the "little bit pregenant" argument.What is he, a 99.74% whore?

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