Howard Kurtz has a revealing backgrounder on the battle between Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann. O’Reilly, who has a superstitious aversion to saying Olbermann’s name, has directed his attacks at NBC, calling its chairman, Jeffrey Immelt, “a “despicable human being.” He even blames Immelt for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq. The sad reality is that Ailes, O’Reilly, and Fox News are far more culpable for the tragedy that is Iraq via their persistent disinformation and cheerleading for the war.
Kurtz reports on conversations between Fox News president Roger Ailes and NBC CEO, Jeff Zucker. Ailes is reported to have jumped in swinging at Zucker:
“Ailes warned that if Olbermann didn’t stop such attacks against Fox, he would unleash O’Reilly against NBC and would use the New York Post as well.”
Unleash O’Reilly? Wouldn’t they need a permit from the Department of Animal Control for that? It’s interesting that Ailes openly asserts that he exercises editorial control over both O’Reilly’s program and the New York Post, for which he has no executive responsibility. NBC is to be lauded for their refusal to similarly impose such controls on Olbermann.
While Ailes is violating every tenet of journalistic independence, O’Reilly is behaving like the bully he is known to be. And worse, he is rapidly spinning into the Delusions of Grandeur Zone:
“That Immelt man answers to me. . . . That’s why I’m in this business right now, to get guys like that.”
O’Reilly’s claim to domination of GE’s CEO is both pathetic and laughable. The Factor averages about 2.5 million viewers a day. NBC Nightly News does three times that. The Today Show more than doubles O’Reilly’s numbers. The idea of Ailes and O’Reilly pushing NBC around makes no sense. But that never stopped O’Reilly before.
Now it appears that Ailes is already making good on his threats. The New York Post’s gossipy Page Six is asking whether the “notoriously odd” Olbermann is “on the verge of yet another professional meltdown?” That’s funny coming from the notoriously disreputable Post, and particularly Page Six, which has a history of publishing false items and hiring corrupt columnists.