Murdoch and Immelt tried to broker MSNBC-Fox News peace accord
The on-screen and behind-the-scenes feuding between cable news rivals MSNBC, owned by General Electric Co., and News Corp.'s Fox News has become so ugly that the chief executives of their respective parent companies recently held a hush-hush meeting to try to broker a peace treaty.
News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch and General Electric chief Jeffrey Immelt met up at -- appropriately enough -- the Microsoft CEO summit in Redmond, Wash., to figure out how to diffuse tensions between the two channels, Company Town has learned. The primary focus of the chit-chat was the back-and-forth sniping between MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox's Bill O'Reilly. The two often exchange insults, Olbermann by name, O'Reilly by insinuation.
If Immelt and Murdoch took their message of peace and love back to their respective news channels, it doesn't seem to have taken. Olbermann, who generally is the aggressor, has been attacking Fox News and O'Reilly on a regular basis. O'Reilly still takes occasional shots at MSNBC, NBC and General Electric.
For example, on July 9, Olbermann, commenting on reports that Murdoch's London tabloids had to settle lawsuits for illegal wiretaps, said "why did News Corp. go to all that trouble, rather than just get the secret personal information from the Bush administration?"
O'Reilly, meanwhile, accused NBC News on June 18 of being in President Obama's pocket and said last month that "there is compelling evidence that NBC is giving President Obama favorable treatment so that GE will be awarded billions, billions, in government contracts."
A Fox News spokeswoman said "we can't comment on any meeting that may or may not have taken place between Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Immelt," while a News Corp. spokeswoman declined to comment. A General Electric spokesperson was unavailable to comment.
While Fox News and MSNBC don't get along, News Corp. and NBC are in bed together on other ventures including, most prominently, video site Hulu.com, which also counts Walt Disney Co. among its owners.
Since Murdoch and Immelt seem unable to get these two to play nice, maybe President Obama can bring them all in for a beer.
-- Joe Flint
Photos: Rupert Murdoch (top left) by Andrew Gombert/EPA. Jeffrey Immelt (bottom right) by Jonathan Fickies/Bloomberg.