Olbermann Insults Matthews On Air, Chris Strikes Back

About 24 hours after dissing Joe Scarborough via an open microphone during Monday's coverage of the Democratic National Convention, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took an insulting poke at partner Chris Matthews.

Wonderfully, Matthews didn't take it lying down.

This raises an important question: is the hatred Olbermann has been spewing on virtually a nightly basis beginning to take its toll on his fellow on air personalities presaging a looming uncivil war at MSNBC?

Consider that on Tuesday evening, after Matthews finished sharing his views concerning Hillary Clinton's upcoming speech, Olbermann arrogantly introduced House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) thusly (h/t TVNewser):

Congressman Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic Leader, has been kind enough to stand by with us inside the Pepsi Center and has listened to us go off at the mouth [making the talking-too-much hand motion] on the subject of Sen. Clinton's speech tonight. I gather you had something...

Matthews was clearly offended, and interjected the following:

Well, if you make that sound, Keith [making the talking-too-much hand motion], I can do the same to you. That's what I thought. Alright? And I said it. That's the point!

When viewed in a vacuum, this might not be that big of a deal. After all, Matthews and Olbermann have had their dust-ups before, and come out hugging and kissing.

However, during a 24-hour period, Olbermann was caught on an open microphone insulting Scarborough, followed by Scarborough and David Shuster battling it out on Tuesday's "Morning Joe," and concluding with this episode between Chris and Keith Tuesday evening.

Is this all a function of the extraordinary hatred that comes out of Olbermann's mouth on a regular basis -- oftentimes emulated by people like Shuster as well as Dan Abrams and Rachel Maddow -- beginning to anger folks within MSNBC such as Matthews and Scarborough? Or is there more to this?

After all, despite his ratings -- which are considered good by MSNBC standards -- there have been internal NBC grumblings concerning Olbermann for many months. These run the gamut from disagreements over: his arrogant, blustery style; his obvious far-left-wing advocacy, and; the fact that he's really an unlikable guy.

What are Matthews' likely beefs? Probably one and three, for Chris must love Keith's far-left-wing advocacy.

As such, when it comes to Matthews, his problem with Olbermann is clearly personal and NOT ideological. That was quite clear Tuesday evening.

Of course, Matthews must also feel slighted by all the attention Olbermann gets given how long Chris has been part of the NBC family, and his favored position years ago given his successful "Hardball" program.

Now, with the emergence of "Countdown," "Hardball" is almost an afterthought as MSNBC builds its entire prime time schedule around Olbermann as evidenced by the recent replacement of Abrams' "Verdict" with a new show by Olbermann protege Rachel Maddow.

None of this can possibly sit well with Matthews.

Add it all up, and we might be witnessing the normal Olbermann modus operandi wherein he offends enough of his co-workers to either be fired or forced to resign.

Potentially making matters worse is a new petition called "Morning Joe's Gotta Go" just started online to get Scarborough fired (h/t Johnny Dollar). This appears to have been created  -- or, at the very least, is supported -- by the blog Olbermann writes for, Daily Kos. 

And, news from the New York Post's Page Six (as reported by my colleague P.J. Gladnick) that Olbermann is trying to get long-time NBC "Nightly News" host Tom Brokaw banned from MSNBC adds more fuel to this looming firestorm.

I'm sure this all sits well with Olbermann's colleagues and the good folks at General Electric and NBC who must be wondering what this bickering between their leading political talking heads is doing for their brand.

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Noel Sheppard's picture