Clash of the TV Titans
Posted on Jun 28, 2008
When two big TV pundits with larger-than-life egos play out their personal grudge match on their shows, and their respective parent networks join in the fray, guess who loses? In the case of Keith Olbermann v. Bill O’Reilly, just about everybody loses, according to this piece from Variety.
Whichever side you’re on, there’s surely plenty of narcissism to go around here—and it raises a few troubling issues for both.
Critics have long muttered about Murdoch—more than any other mogul—openly using his corporate assets to buttress each other and lash out at his foes. Even if it’s not an orchestrated campaign—as opposed to like-minded foot soldiers simply knowing what the boss wants—the collaboration by Fox News and the Post in this particular endeavor has a bilious odor and doesn’t provide much comfort to nervous journalists seeking reassurance that Murdoch won’t lead his newest toy, the Wall Street Journal, stumbling down a similar credibility-sapping path.
NBC News, meanwhile, risks allowing its talk-driven personalities—the mother’s milk of cable, where loud and inexpensive is the formula—to eclipse what little solid journalism the news division still generates. And while it was initially amusing watching Olbermann playfully try to nudge O’Reilly off the deep end, there’s a significant difference between that and self-indulgently using his forum as a pulpit to bash enemies, which actually makes him more like his Fox counterpart than he would care to admit.
To borrow a phrase from his sports days, there really is such a thing as too “inside baseball.”
Cool it, Keith: Variety’s Brian Lowry points out the pitfalls of the ongoing on-screen squabbling between Olbermann (pictured) and O’Reilly.