O'Reilly, Olbermann Take TV Feuds to Another Level

February 26th, 2006 2:38 PM

Too often, the media operate on a sort of "gentlemen's agreement" not to criticize each other so it's sometimes entertaining to see reporters and commentators step out of the "objective" pose, no matter how bizarrely.

It all started last Thursday when FNC host Bill O'Reilly announced a petition drive to get MSNBC to bring back fired host Phil Donahue out of "concern" for the network since the replacement host, Keith Olbermann, has actually lost viewers in the timeslot compared to three years ago when he first took over:

Time now for "The Most Ridiculous Item of the Day." Bring back Phil Donahue. It was three years ago this month that MSNBC fired Mr. Donahue for low ratings. We felt bad for Phil. They didn't give him much of a chance.

Phil actually said his firing was a mistake, and he was right. His successor after three long years on the air actually has fewer viewers now than Donahue did when he left. That is a disaster.

So in the interest of fairness, we have a petition on BillOReilly.com to bring Phil back, and Marlo, too, if she wants. Kind of like that Maury- Connie thing. If enough of you sign the petition, we'll send it over to NBC and hopefully, Phil Donahue will get the chance he deserves. Let's go to bat for our friend Phil. To not do so would be ridiculous. Maybe we should get a bumper sticker.

Now you could say the feud started when Olbermann started making attacking O'Reilly a regular feature of his program, largely in an effort to pander to liberal viewers, but also partly out of a desire to get O'Reilly's goat. In any case, Olbermann was immensely pleased with the mention, responding on Friday's "Countdown" with an eight-minute-plus salvo, including a rehearsed signing of O'Reilly's petition, and a montage of MSNBC staffers doing the same.

Worth noting in the clip (if you can stand to watch something so dreadfully self-absorbed) was the unintentional irony of Olbermann slamming "Factor's" older viewership after earlier doing an impression of Ted Baxter, the fictional anchorman of the 1970s' "Mary Tyler Moore Show."