Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly take pride in not backing down from anyone, especially each other. But did they give in to their bosses by agreeing to conclude their feud?
The MSNBC and Fox News hosts have engaged in an often-personal war of words for years. But they put their differences aside — or at least agreed to stop talking about them on-air — because of an intervention by the heads of their companies, The New York Times reports.
See classic on-camera meltdowns by Bill O'Reilly and others
It happened in part because of another host, one less prone to public feuding, the Times said: PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked G.E. chairman Jeffrey Immelt and Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch about the feud during an off-the-record corporate summit in mid-May, the newspaper reported.
Neither network commented to The Times on the specifics of the agreement — and Olbermann, in an e-mail to the Times, said he was "party to no deal."
But Gary Sheffer, a spokesman for G.E., generally confirmed that the networks wanted to tone things down.
"We all recognize that a certain level of civility needed to be introduced into the public discussion," he said. "We're happy that has happened."
Olbermann's snipes at the top-rated Fox News helped improve the ratings of his own third-place show. But the back-and-forth climbed the corporate ladder until O'Reilly targeted Immelt.
Referring to G.E.'s doing business in Iran, he said, "If my child were killed in Iraq, I would blame the likes of Jeffrey Immelt." The business, which G.E. says it has ended, involved energy and medical technology and was legal. But O'Reilly's attack led to a flood of angry e-mails from O'Reilly's viewers to Immelt.
What do you think? Is the feud over? If it is, did the hosts do the right thing?