Olbermann and O'Reilly Drag General Electric and Rupert Murdoch Into Their Dick-Measuring Contest

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp owns Fox News and the New York Post's Page Six, so there's often a bit of corporate synergy in the targets those two outlets decide to attack. Like NBC, for example. MSNBC competes directly with Fox News and NBC with the Fox network, so it's only good business to undermine them at every turn. But it's become an all-out a war, lately, waged both in print and on television. Let's go back to the beginning!

May 2003. This, according to Jack Shafer, is when Keith Olbermann instigated the NBC/Fox War. In a throwaway wisecrack at the close of his show, Olbermann compared Fox Blowhard Mascot Bill O'Reilly to Joe McCarthy. By 2006, the two hosts were fighting with each other almost nightly.

January 2006 Bill devotes his nightly comment to attacking NBC itself—and not Olbermann by name. "But 'Talking Points' is troubled by the behavior of NBC, which cheap shots FOX News on a regular basis and has been doing so for some time." He then takes it to the next level by going over Keith's head and pinning the blame on NBC President Robert Wright! (Keith responded by declaring O'Reilly his Worst Person in the World.)

October 2006 Fox's NBC war was expanding beyond Olbermann and O'Reilly. Fox gossip Roger Friedman turned a benefit report into an odd swipe at NBC's ratings, blaming Wright for the failure of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

January 2007 The O'Reilly Factor presented a fair and balanced report on The Decline of NBC News. "As we reported NBC News has taken a sharp turn to the left under executive Jeff Zucker and Robert Wright with elements at NBC News now actually using propaganda from far left web sites as primary source material. Unbelievable." He went on to gleefully report on the supposed misdoings of Maria Bartiromo, bringing in a financial analyst willing to publicly trash CNBC.

April 2007 As the odious Michelle Malkin hosted his program, O'Reilly appeared via satellite to blame the Don Imus affair on Jeff Zucker. Meanwhile, Fox business correspondent Terry Keenan gleefully reported that NBC's parent company GE wanted to unload the network.

January 2008 The war heats up! O'Reilly does one of his patented ambushes of General Electric head Jeffrey Immelt! Supposedly because of some deal with Iran, but mainly because GE owns NBC and NBC employs Keith Olbermann and Keith Olbermann makes fun of Bill O'Reilly.

And so the feud widened. From Bill versus Keith to Fox versus NBC to News Corp versus General Electric. It went as high as Immelt and Rupert Murdoch! Fox News head Roger Ailes called NBC head Jeff Zucker personally to complain about Olbermann and threaten to take the battle to the New York Post. Murdoch called Zucker to ask that the network not play a video of a blogger harassing O'Reilly.

Page Six, the Post's gossip arm, constantly runs embarrassing stories about Olbermann. Which often leads to Olbermann naming some News Corp or Post-related figure his Worst Person in the World. And then the cycle begins anew! Over and over again!

Post columnist Andrea Peyser overhears Keith bitching about Connie Chung, Keith calls Peyser the worst person in the world, a few months later, Page Six reports that Olbermann is bad in bed! Then column editor Richard Johnson gets the first of his Worst Person in the World awards. (The second would come when he threatened to rape Vanessa Grigoriadis.) It's fun!

But the involvement of Murdoch? The harassment of Immelt? As GE decides whether it wants to keep its toes in the broadcasting business, this ego-driven bullshit might help convince them it's not worth it. Bill might win this one, sort of!

As in most things Murdochian, Rupert doesn't dirty his hands. While it's fun to pretend to see his fingerprints on each Olbermann smear in Page Six, the truth is Johnson and Post head Col Allen do indeed call the shots. They just know which shots they're supposed to call. Just like Roger Ailes at Fox, all the way down to Bill.

Would that GE and NBC/Universal had a message machine so in tune? They've got the cable blowhards warring with the broadcast newsmen and it all ends up publicized by one News Corp outlet or another.

The real winners, as always: us!