Best of the Olbermann-O'Reilly Feud
Factor Flashback: Bill Demands Olbermann Out, Donahue In
In February 2006, O’Reilly started a petition to get MSNBC to bring back his old timeslot rival, Phil Donahue, and kick Olbermann to the curb. He couched his request in concern for the network, saying Olbermann’s ratings were worse than Donahue’s at his lowest.
The Falafel-Guy Fatwa: Olbermann Fires Back, Sings
Olbermann countered that his ratings might be lower, but the median age of his viewers was lower as well, an important fact considering television advertisers covet younger demographics. “Be concerned about the odds of your viewers living into next week,” Olbermann cautioned.
The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day: Bill Whips Out His Measuring Stick
Ratings were clearly a sticking point for the hosts. In October 2008, O’Reilly took umbrage with a New York Times article that suggested MSNBC was a competitor for Fox News. “You gonna print that last night, I beat their gutter-snipe at 8 by two million viewers?” O’Reilly asked, referring to his timeslot rival Olbermann. He went on to suggest the Nielsen ratings themselves were being tampered with by NBC sympathizers.
Oddball: Olbermann Whips Out His Own Stick
“Bill-o the Clown has jumped the shark tank that is delusional paranoia,” Olbermann said in his rebuttal. Countering O’Reilly’s argument that the Nielsen ratings had suspiciously odd swings in numbers that were unprecedented in the television business, Keith had his own explanation for the numerical variances: “Um, it’s ‘cause you suck.”
Talking Points Memo: O’Reilly Calls Olbermann a Meanie
In November 2008, CBS Sunday Morning’s Harry Smith interviewed O’Reilly. When asked about Olbermann, an unusually docile, almost vulnerable O’Reilly responded, “They’re just in it to hurt people…The meanness of the discourse in general bothers me.”
Special Comment: Olbermann Quarantines O’Reilly
After Dr. George Tiller’s murder in June 2009, some said O’Reilly’s criticism of the doctor helped incite the violent act. For his part, Olbermann vowed to “quarantine” his coverage of O’Reilly, retiring his graphics, funny voices, and jokes used to mock O’Reilly. “This is serious. Serious as death. Serious as George Tiller’s death,” he said. The self-imposed embargo did not last long, however, casting doubt on the permanence of this network-induced truce, as well.