Tonight Keith Olbermann returned from vacation and used his "Worst Persons" segment to emphatically rebuff the Times report stating that he and Bill O'Reilly's feud has been muzzled by corporate chieftains. He also addressed the Richard Wolffe situation online.
Olbermann kicked off his "Worst Persons" segment by lashing out at Brian Stelter, the Times media reporter who broke the story that on June 1st Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly were told to stop taking each other to the woodshed on the air because their bloody feud had become detrimental to the corporate interests of the parent corporations running MSNBC and Fox News. Olbermann said tonight that he spoke to Stelter twice last week, both on and off the record, and denied to him that anyone had attempted to silence his stinging criticisms of O'Reilly and Fox News. Olbermann claims that the whole thing is all just a "misinterpretation" of an on-air proclamation he made on June 1 of this year following the murder of George Tiller, the subject of frequent inflammatory attacks by O'Reilly. Here's what Olbermann said at the time:
Fox News Channel will never restrain itself from incitement to murder and terrorism, not until its profits begin to decline, when its growth stops. So not so much a boycott here as a quarantine, because this has got to stop.
That I have a commercial conflict of interest here is obvious. So I‘ll make the first symbolic contribution to this quarantine. One of my pleasures, obviously, is constantly criticizing him in that Ted Baxter voice. It is the idea of laughter as a social sanction against inflexible behavior.
But this is no time for laughter. This is serious. Serious as death. As serious as George Tiller‘s death. 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. The goal here is to get this blindly irresponsible man and his ilk off the air.
So it's all a "misinterpretation," you see, though Stelter reported over the weekend that MSNBC and Fox News "lieutenants arranged a cease-fire, according to four people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal." Someone, either Olbermann or a reporter for the New York Times, is lying. Who do you believe?
From there, Olbermann, likely inspired by a burning urge to squash any notion that he'd been put on a leash with an exclamation point, turned his attention to O'Reilly, who he affectionately called a "racist clown," and O'Reilly's boss, "corporate jackal" Rupert Murdoch. Here's the complete video of the segment:
In regards to the controversy surrounding Richard Wolffe's work as a corporate lobbyist while serving as a Countdown guest host and regular political anaIyst, Olbermann announced on Daily Kos that Wolffe was effectively being suspended from appearing on his show until any and all lobbying conflicts of interest have been fully resolved:
As to Richard Wolffe I can offer far less insight. I honor Mr. (Glenn) Greenwald's insight into the coverage of GE/NewsCorp talks, and his reporting on Richard's other jobs. I must confess I was caught flat-footed. I do not know what the truth is; my executive producer and I have spent the last two months dealing with other things (see above) but what appears to be the truth here is certainly not what Richard told us about his non-news job.
I am confident his commentary to this point has not been compromised - he has been an insightful analyst and a great friend to this show - but until we can clarify what else he is doing, he will not be appearing with us. I apologize for not being able to prevent this unhappy set of circumstances from developing.
So Olbermann says that he and his producers were too busy in June and July to check into Wolffe's potential conflicts of interest. Well, Wolffe started his work at Public Strategies in April of this year. Were Olbermann and his producers too bogged down "dealing with other things" in April and May as well? And did Wolffe never even bother to bring it to their attention at any point? How else would Olbermann be able to claim that he was "caught flat-footed?"
Sorry, but all of this just smells like a steaming pile of horseshit.
UPDATE: Bill O'Reilly made no mention of Stelter's report on his show tonight.