Continued from page 1

Olbermann was seen laughing following Matthews’ conversation with Bachmann. Matthews had criticized the congresswoman for failing to answer his questions.

“Are you hypnotized tonight?” Matthews said. “Has someone hypnotized you? Because no matter what I ask you, you give the same answer.”

Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, interviewing Fox’s Chris Wallace the day after election day, said MSNBC was like “double-A ball” in comparison to Fox.

“You can’t defeat Fox by becoming what they say you are,” Stewart said. “The only way you can defeat them is by an earned credibility, not an earned partisanship. They’re making a mistake by becoming an equivalent to Fox rather than a brand new journalistic organization.”

There has been discomfort in the past at NBC News over the roles of Matthews and Olbermann on newsy nights. For part of the 2008 campaign, the two men anchored MSNBC’s prime-time political coverage, but when the general election campaign started, they were replaced by David Gregory and given the role of commentators.

Olbermann, 51, has a volatile work history, feuding with management at ESPN, where he came to prominence as a “Sportscenter” host. He had a different prime-time show for MSNBC in the late 1990s, but said he quit because he was angry that management compelled him to spent a lot of time on the scandal that led to President Clinton’s impeachment.

Because Olbermann is a polarizing figure, his suspension set different sides of the political spectrum aflame. Brent Bozell of the conservative Media Research Center called Olbermann “the worse hypocrite in the world” for complaining about News Corp’s political donations while making similar ones himself, while the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee started an online petition demanding that MSNBC put Olbermann back on the air.

“Is this simply a personality conflict within MSNBC or is one of America’s major corporations cracking down on a viewpoint they may not like?” asked Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent. “Whatever the answer may be, Keith Olbermann should be reinstated immediately and allowed to present his point of view.”

After initially saying Chris Hayes would fill in for Olbermann on Friday, MSNBC changed its mind but wouldn’t immediately say who would do it.

___

Associated Press Writer Bob Christie contributed to this report.