With the explosion of anti-Bush rage after Hurricane Katrina, Olbermann saw an opening. “I wanted to take over this little corner of the world,” he says. He blasted onto the scene by practicing the well-worn political tactic of punching up, attacking Bill O’Reilly, who, at the time—it’s hard to remember now—was TV’s king right-winger. “O’Reilly punched down on Olbermann and brought attention to Keith,” Phil Griffin tells me. Tensions got so bad that in 2009, Zucker and then–Murdoch adviser Gary Ginsberg discussed a secret truce after O’Reilly began attacking G.E. CEO Jeff Immelt. But these days, Olbermann largely ignores his old foe. “There’s just something missing. There’s some fire that’s gone,” Olbermann says. “He looks tired, he sounds tired.” Olbermann has refocused his artillery on Glenn Beck. “He is the spearhead of the moment. It underscores where the right is,” Olbermann says. “He really is the definition of the demagogue.”…

There’s tension between morning and night at MSNBC. “I don’t have an hour to waste for someone just reading Democratic or Republican Party talking points,” says Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough, who’s positioned himself as a moderate. “We’ve created a safe house,” he says of his show.

“I have no comment about him,” Olbermann says…

Fox, meanwhile, seems on the verge of winning an election with the help of a movement—the tea party—it did much to create. But it, too, is increasingly riven by schisms that mirror those in the Republican Party itself. Bill O’Reilly has gone RINO, palling around with Jon Stewart. Beck, a one-man tea party, is going rogue, and the Establishment is pissed and worried. “People are uncomfortable with Beck,” one person working at Fox News says. “He gets 2 million at five o’clock? He would be dying at HLN. He’s not a popular guy within Fox. Hannity’s not really happy with Beck. Beck is a hired gun who’s benefiting from Fox News.”