Over the weekend came word of an extraordinary cease fire by two fierce enemies. No, it was not the Israelis and Palestinians or the Taliban and the civilized world. I am talking about Bill O'Reilly of Fox News and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, whose intractable feud was ratings gold for their corporate masters at News Corp. (NWS) and General Electric Co. (GE).
That is, until now.
According to The New York Times, the "cease-fire" was worked out between NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker and News Corp. Executive Vice President Gary Ginsberg. Details of the agreement, including the duration, penalties for non-compliance and whether famed diplomat Henry Kissinger provided any assistance were not provided. Oddly, Olbermann apparently knew nothing about it, telling the Times that "I am party to no deal." Fox News had not comment.
The real reason why News Corp. and GE put the feud on the back burner was that the almost nightly O'Reilly-Olbermann slug fest was getting boring. Really boring. How many times can Olbermann name his higher-rated rival "The Worst Person in the World?" The first dozen or so times it was kind of interesting, but after a while it became a drag. Ditto for O'Reilly's jihad against GE for its tiny business operation in Iran and for supposedly fomenting what the cable TV host called leftist hate speech.
Much as I would love to celebrate the Fox-MSNBC détente, I am pretty sure it will not last. Too many egos have invested too much energy into the war between the conservative O'Reilly and (somewhat) liberal Olbermann. They are frothing at the mouth to pounce on their ideological enemies. The lightest breeze on a spring day could well topple the house of cards that's holding up this cease-fire.
For now, there is plenty of other garbage for cable viewers to ponder.
Take Lou Dobbs on CNN. When the journalist is not vilifying illegal immigrants, he is encouraging the "birther" movement that questions whether President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. Glenn Beck of Fox recently opined -- apparently seriously -- that Obama has a "hatred" of white people. Never mind that his late mother was white.
Cable news works the same way as computer programming: garbage in, garbage out.
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