Throwback Thursday: “MSNBC Drama: Olbermann vs Matthews Round 3”

KOrantThe Huffington Post reports, using that headline above; you decide:

Discussing Hillary Clinton’s upcoming speech, Matthews began talking about women ‘s reactions to Hillary. His producers, likely wary of any more cries of sexism against the host and the network, presumably tried to get him to wrap, as he said, “I’ll wrap in a second, I’ll wrap in a second.”

Olbermann then tried to attribute Matthews’ point about women voters to Rachel Maddow, to which Matthews said, “Good ideas can be shared.”

Then, when introducing Steny Hoyer, Olbermann mocked Matthews for “[going] off at the mouth” and made a hand gesture implying that Matthews talked forever.

“You make that sound, Keith,” Matthews said. “I can do the same to you. That’s what I thought. And I said it.”

Translated: “I’m rubber, and you’re glue…” C’mon guys, grow up! Chris, this won’t help your Senate run, even if the experience of sharing a set with Olbermann in Denver makes Matthews more determined than ever to go seek a new career in elective politics.

And of course, The New York Post’s “Page Six” is stoking up the fratricidal fires, chronicling the on-air war of the words between David Shuster and Joe Scarborough, and adding this tidbit:

Insiders say Olbermann is pushing to have Brokaw banned from the network and is also refusing to have centrist Time magazine columnist Mike Murphy on his show.

“The idea of anyone trying to ban Tom Brokaw is ludicrous,” said one MSNBC-er. Brokaw was on MSNBC for an hour yesterday afternoon. Murphy, who was bumped from Olbermann’s show on Monday night, told us, “They told me technical problems and I have no reason not to believe them.”

The Cable Gamer can only offer this comment: television, like any form of entertainment, is naturally full of big egos and prima donnas. Nothing new there.

But a TV network has to function, on air, as a cohesive team. Why? Two reasons:

First, the mechanics of TV, transitioning from one talking head to another, from one guest to another, from one show to another are simply too delicate to allow for bad behavior. (And that lack of collegiality was a big reason why the same David Shuster got axed from Fox News a few years back.)

Second, the viewers—if there are to be viewers—like to think of the network as a team, as a family. After all, the folks in the box are being invited into folks’ homes. And as guests, TVers are supposed to be pleasant and civil. Otherwise, they won’t be invited back. Again, it’s human nature for ambitious people not to like each other, but if the on-air chemistry is too obviously terrible (think Barbara Walters and Harry Reasoner in the 70s, think Connie Chung and Dan Rather in the 90s), well, then, the show just doesn’t work.

In the meantime, it’s pretty clear to The Cable Gamer that Olbermann is the principal cause of the trouble at MSNBC. His acidly volcanic personality and temperament is all too clear on the air. And if we can see it on the screen, imagine what it’s like to be around him on the set, or in the office. TCG can only imagine that profilers and bloggers are gathering their string on KO—the better to hang him with it.

Which is why TCG has never thought he will last on TV, even if he is pulling down decent ratings—it’s just not possible to run a network with someone like him making everyone else’s life miserable.

And of course, MSNBC has an even bigger problem: It is connected to the rest of the NBC media conglomerate, and then to GE. Suits don’t like trouble, because trouble wrinkles.

And as KO would be the first to proclaim, he is trouble.

UPDATE: Jeff Bercovici, ace Cable Gamer for Conde Nast Portfolio, adds this, under the headline, “Scarborough Losing Patience with MSNBC-ers.”

Reposted from The Cable Game, 27 August 2008

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