An earlier version of this article incorrectly described activist Mike Stark, who staged a protest at the home of Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly, as a Daily Kos blogger. Stark has posted opinions and video at Daily Kos but is not affiliated with the Web site.
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Feud Fuels Bill O'Reilly's Blasts at GE
Murdoch's call to Zucker, which was polite in tone, involved a request that Olbermann not air video from a Daily Kos blogger who had made a scene at O'Reilly's Long Island home. That, Murdoch said, should be off limits.
Activist Mike Stark had confronted O'Reilly when he was retrieving his newspaper, planted derogatory signs on his street and distributed derogatory material to neighbors. Olbermann says the only time he ever talked to Stark was to interview him about a stunt in which he called O'Reilly's radio show and mentioned Olbermann's name.
Olbermann says that NBC Senior Vice President Phil Griffin called to ask him to exercise restraint but that he had already decided to criticize Stark for going to O'Reilly's home. He told viewers, "with great regret," that Stark's behavior was "not acceptable."
He and NBC are fair game for O'Reilly, Olbermann says, but "when you start accusing a corporation of murdering Americans, with the thinnest and most ridiculous arguments behind it," it is unfair to GE employees.
While O'Reilly is cheered by conservatives and Olbermann is a hero on the left, their dispute is more personal than ideological. Fox staffers say they don't share O'Reilly's obsession with Olbermann, noting that the "O'Reilly Factor" audience of 2.5 million viewers is 2 1/2 times the size of Olbermann's. "Countdown," however, has become increasingly competitive among younger viewers.
O'Reilly initially retaliated in 2006 with a petition on his Web site that urged MSNBC to fire Olbermann. But he does not mention Olbermann's name on the air. Instead, he routinely assails NBC -- sometimes naming Zucker and Capus -- as an organization that "spews out far-left propaganda," is "the most aggressive anti-Bush network" and is "in the tank" for Barack Obama.
Immelt had GE put out an internal memo last month, saying "a Fox News personality" has been "misleading viewers about our company." GE may continue selling equipment to Iranian hospitals under a humanitarian program licensed by the U.S. government.