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Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann: A Conspiracy Theory

Posted on August 4 2009 9:50 am
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This post was written by Peter Collier.

Elements of the left blogosphere are in a tizzy—a-twitter, might be a better way of phrasing it, given the frequency of the posts—with conspiracy theories about the execrable Keith Olbermann and his longstanding feud with Fox’s Bill O’Reilly.

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, who complains frequently about “corporate control over the content” of American media, penned a long, inchoate piece that appeared yesterday. He asserted that MSNBC parent company GE has tried to “silence” Olbermann as part of an alleged secret compact with Fox, which in return agreed to force O’Reilly to mute his criticism of: (a) GE’s technology dealings with Iran, and (b) NBC’s contemptuous portrayals of operations by the U.S. military.

In Greenwald’s long and involved piece, GE is portrayed as being afraid that a drumbeat of criticism from “the Right” will endanger its vast contacts with the federal government.  Greenwald implied that Olbermann has been gagged by the GE corporate mother ship when it came to mentioning O’Reilly and Fox. The narrative in the Salon piece was of illicit “corporate power,” which in an even more vulgar form also functions as a sort of tape loop for Olbermann himself, as in his lead story last night on health care (in which he compared today’s health insurance companies to New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, whose lax safety standards were responsible for the death of 146 factory workers in the notorious fire of 1911).

Also featured in last night’s show—and this was an unkind cut to Greenwald’s heroic efforts to gin up outrage over the suppression of the MSNBC host’s free speech—was a lengthy, bitter diatribe by Olbermann not only against O’Reilly but against Rupert Murdoch himself.

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