NBC Prez on Olbermann-Scarborough Tiff: Don't Publicly Criticize Colleagues

The president of NBC has officially responded to Joe Scarborough criticizing Keith Olbermann for his attacks on Scott Brown.

In a memo obtained by the Huffington Post, Phil Griffin told his on air staff: "We do not publicly criticize our colleagues. This kind of behavior is unprofessional and will not be tolerated."

Griffin was addressing comments made by MSNBC's Scarborough about Olbermann. As NewsBusters reported Monday, the "Morning Joe" host first tweeted his disapproval of the "Countdown" host's comments about Brown -- "How reckless and how sad" -- reiterating on his program Tuesday morning, "Sad and pathetic.

As a result, Griffin sent out the following memo Friday (h/t TVNewser):

From: Griffin, Phil (NBC Universal)
Sent: Friday, January 22, 2010 3:02 PM

MSNBC is THE place for viewers to get the best political analysis and opinion in today's vast marketplace of ideas. We don't tell our hosts what to say. We don't have talking points. We encourage our talent to voice their opinions strongly and smartly, always rooted in fact. All of this has brought us great success, culminating in last year's victory over CNN.

Hosts strongly voicing their OWN opinions can no-doubt lead to spirited, substantive disagreements. This debate is encouraged. What we're doing at MSNBC is something our competition is not. And it is difficult. We have many strong personalities with differing, passionate opinions, but it is important to remember that we are all on the same team. I want to reiterate my long-standing policy: We do not publicly criticize our colleagues. This kind of behavior is unprofessional and will not be tolerated.

Let me be clear: I encourage you to keep doing what you do best. Give the viewers your perspective and a vigorous debate on the issues they care about. But do not turn substantive differences into personal ones.


Griffin also sent the following to TVNewser:

"An important rule was broken. I spoke to Keith and he said in the spirit of teamwork and the free flow of ideas, he didn't think it warranted punishment or suspension. I also talked to Joe and he apologized to me," said the MSNBC president, adding, "That's why I made the decision that this didn't rise to the level of punishment, but I felt it was necessary to reiterate my long-standing policy."

For his part, Scarborough tweeted the liberal website Mediaite Saturday, "There is no 'tiff.' I offered a brief commentary as did others."

Readers should recall Olbermann dissing Scarborough during a live discussion in the middle of 2008's Democratic National Convention saying, "Jesus, Joe, why don't you get a shovel?"

So, is this the end of it?

Stay tuned.

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