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‘We are at war’: MSNBC Infighting Revealed During Olbermann Suspension

November 15, 2010

While it‘s no secret that there’s tension between MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and his boss, network president Phil Griffin, we now know just how heated their battle is. In Griffin’s own words, it’s an all out “war.”

In an extensive (and juicy) story on the Daily Beast, Howard Kurtz details the attitudes and actions surrounding Olbermann’s suspension earlier this month, when it was discovered he donated a total of $7,200 to three Democratic candidates.

“We are at war,” Griffin reportedly told Olbermann’s agent Michael Price at one point, after Price asked why Griffin released a statement to the press. That was after Griffin threatened to “fire” Olbermann if he appeared on CBS’s “Good Morning America” to air his grievances.

Griffin apparently isn’t the only NBC employee upset with Olbermann. According to “eight knowledgeable sources” Kurtz interviewed, “there has been a deepening sense of anger and frustration among his colleagues.” Those sources say many at the network are worried that Olbermann has forever damaged its reputation. They’ve apparently used phrases “like ‘scorched-earth policy‘ and ’totally narcissistic response’ to describe how Olbermann has dealt with criticism of his political donations.”

Even Tom Brokaw, NBC’s grandfather of news, has reportedly voiced concerns regarding Olbermann.

Kurtz’s piece has quickly grabbed headlines. The Huffington Post ran an article titled, “MSNBC President Phil Griffin Threatened to Fire Keith Olbermann,” while Mediaite’s Colby Hall had a piece headlined, “FoxNews.com Pundit: Keith Olbermann Clearly Runs MSNBC.” Hall was referring to a Fox online exchange between Ellis Henican and Jim Pinkerton, who debated the issue via a series called “Skype Gripe”:

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While Henican asks what we’re supposed to take from the whole thing, Kurtz eludes to an answer:

Olbermann quit MSNBC once before, in 1998, after openly criticizing his bosses. He is, today, a far bigger star. Management doesn’t want to turn him into a martyr, but no one will be shocked if he winds up leaving again.

UPDATE:

Olbermann has responded to Kurtz’s story via twitter:

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